Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Harry Whitney last day

Today did not go so well. I thought it was going to be great because she seemed to have her attention on me right away and I got I got on quickly and she was doing great. We were walking forward and trotting. But then about 30 minutes in she began to look outside the pen and get jumpy and begin to look for 'excuses' to spook and started to become heavier and heavier. I was moving her around and I thought changing her thoughts but there were little spots I was missing. So another bird flew up and spooked her and off I came. I had long reins to keep her relaxed but I couldn't get them back. I almost got it back but I didn't and then hit the ground. I got her back and hopped back on or a few minutes but I felt the tension starting to build so I got off and went back to ground work. Harry came over and showed me what I was doing wrong which was not making her stay with me all the time. In my efforts to be more soft tr last few days I had stopped demanding her immediate attention. Harry worked with her and she was sticky even for him so it's not just that I'm not on time or soft. She is really sticky in her thoughts. He showed me how to demand her complete attention at all times. This will be a challenge. He also got on her for awhile and showed me the same things. She does not want to give up her thoughts. Them I got back on and rode her a bit more just to feel how she was post Harry.

Her attention is really hard to get. She needs 100% of all attention all the time. Even when I think I'm paying attention I find that she had snuck out on me to the happy grass filled place horses go to avoid humans. I see now how much she has been running me instead of actually being with me. Ironically Liberty is far more with me than she is. She's the first one to greet us but it's all on her terms not the terms I have set. It takes a lot of energy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Harry Whitney Monday:playing outside

Since I want Fiera to be a trail horse it seemed that it would a good idea to go outdoors to work. Originally we thought we'd work in 3 groups of 3 and all go outside but several people surprised us by not wanting to go outside. So, Betsy, Mauri and I went out to the back field to work in the back field with jumps set up as obstacles to work around. Mauri is a barrel racer so worked on barrels slowly with relaxation. Betsy worked on getting April to be with her when she would rather go her own way. I worked not being terrified of riding in the open on a windy day with the other horses doing their own things. This will be hard to believe, but I was initially scored for not paying attention to my horse's wandering thoughts because I was talking (someone wanted to know where I got my tights). But I know Harry allow me to get in those pickles and scolds me to get my attention.

Mounted she did great. We walked in a few straight lines today. Then she got bored and I had trouble keeping her attention. Harry is having trouble convincing me to turn loose of the reins and let her move out on a loose rein. We notice she is chewing on the bit and I'm to interrupt that by scratching her withers, pulling her hair or something to make her stop. I'm to make her go somewhere with purpose. When I have ridden her out with other horses so far she has been very concerned about where the other horses are and what they are doing. It was great to work at our own thing and keep her attention. I also practiced my rein technique and it's getting better. We spent a lot of time practicing turns and keeping her thoughts with me.

When the ride was over, and a bit before we started, we had the 'afraidofthewoodsrodeo' and the trailer again. She came back to me much quicker than either of the last two days, but she is really worried by that spot on the property. Harry said it was no wonder...there are no horses over there. Any that went must have gotten eaten since there aren't any there. After my lesson she really had a meltdown though. She started snorting and carrying on in a big, dramatic way. I put onto practice all the things Harry had told me and was able to send her into the scary spots without driving her but I never really got her calm. She would go in and then trot out. The big thing we accomplished here was that she is no longer running over me when she's scared. To or row, if it's. It raining, we are going to start over there. Then I will work on turning her loose and letting her trot some so that I know we can stop without me clutching her or pulling on her.

I'm finding it interesting that she shies at things behind her just like her mom, and she goes to bucking just like her sisters. I'm a little worried that she is not going to be a good trail horse. I worry that she has unmanageable fears I won't be able to fix. I know I can keep doing the things I'm doing but I may be ready for a professional.

I figured out over the last couple days why Liberty hates the bit. I have always kept contact. In the beginning I let him go on and only used his reins of necessary. Then over time I got more and more contact but he was unhappy so I switched to the s hack. Now I'm going to go back to a snaffle and start over with many of these exercises and see if I can get the tension out. I will compete in my hack for the foreseeable future but I think that I can help his wither soreness and some of the stuff the chiro works on with more relaxation through the top line.

I'm loving the photos of me on her. I don't feel like I look too large on her and I often feel too big on Liberty.

More later. Tomorrow is the last day. I'm sad to see it end, but ready for the real world.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Harry Whitney clinic

Today is the second day of the Harry Whitney clinic I'm attending in East Texas. Yesterday we got Fiera started properly under saddle. I have ridden her over the last year and a half. Not a lot, not regularly but some. She does ok at home but out in nature she is afraid of a lot of stuff. As usual, she was good in the arena. Harry needed to fix me on some things but Fiera was good. She has bonded to the horse next to her and that horse's owner took her horse for a walk and I thought it was going to be bad. But Harry called it an opportunity and he was right. We worked through her concern. I also worked on her tendency (which i taught) to turn into me when i halt her on a circle. Eventually i mounted up and rode. Harry told me just to let her go with very little direction. I'm supposed to only pick up a rein and turn her if she is not with me and thinking the same thoughts that I am thinking. I am also supposed to ride with a very loose rein. I told Harry that all my bad wrecks have occurred with loose reins so I'm going to need a lot of reminding. I know that part of the tight rein business is because of my early dressage lessons. What they mean by contact is different than the way I need to ride now. We worked to get her to come to me quietly at the mounting block as well as teaching me to ask for her thoughts more softly. I practiced not driving her where I want to get her to go but to bring her to making a choice. It was really hard to not pick up my extra hand to push her instead of leading her to make the right decision. I had to practice not mixing up my cues to pull her instead of getting her thought to move away.

Ironically I was starting to discover riding this way a bit with Liberty in the beginning, on,unto have some older NATRC rider/judges tell me I was doing it wrong. Evidently, I was doing it right and now I have to go back redo some things with him. I also plan to reintroduce a snaffle to him. But, I digress.

Today was a big day for us. Yesterday we had a lot of trouble betting ready for the day something really spooked her in the woods and she was bucking and hopping back and forth. One of the other people for the clinics was worried and he came to help. She wasn't happy but I wasn't worried. She wasn't pulling back and I could not get into help her with her being so excited. At the trailer today, tacking up, she was agitated again, thinking the woods were going to get her and not let her go. But today I saw it coming and untied her and starting doing the ground work we did yesterday and she settled quickly. She continued to look for things at which to spook but I kept doing yesterday's exercises and she settled. We had about 15 minutes before my lesson so I decided to play with the mounting block. I quickly discovered that while she would line up to the mounting block on the near side but not the off side. So I did all the exercises from the day before so I could practice getting on and off the offside. Only I could never get her quite lined up. We got close and then it was time for my lesson so I let it go. I realized that it was related to the inability to stop straight on the circle and best left for another day.

We started in hand again but quickly progressed to being able to mount. I told Harry what I had been doing outside And asked if we could work on that a bit. So, I brought her to the block and she lined up and I mounted on the offside. Evidently whatever we had done outside had stuck and she figured it out. She sat with me and was still and I petted her. then we started walking around the arena. Harry showed me a completely different way to handle my reins. I'm
Not even sure I can describe it here so that it makes sense. I have always used what I thought was a leading rein with Fiera. What I discovered was that I was actually pulling back. So now, instead of sliding a Hand toward the nose on the side I want to turn I actually make that hand loose and pull the rein through with the opposite hand. I just could not figure it out. Harry had to go hand over hand with me to get it. This will take some getting used to. When it goes well, the turn is so soft. When it goes wrong, I do it the way I always did and pull back and then Harry scolds me. Bad habits die hard. As yesterday I was to let her move off without restriction but began to have more of a plan. So, I figure out where I want to go and head that way, but if her thoughts strayed, we addressed those thoughts and then went back to the plan. We trotted a bit, but I discovered I could not steer in the new way I was shown some went back to the walk. when she went fast a few times I pick up the rein and turned her in a circle to stop.

Things were going great and I thought about asking for a trot but hadn't done it yet. All of a sudden she spooked and then went to bucking. Harry is so calm, bend her, bend her...everyone is saying bend her. I'm up there thinking well, duh, bend her, but which way. I did get her bent. She turned and sighed and quit bucking. Harry told me that I was really goosing her after she pushed me forward. Again I'm thinking, duh, yeah, I was off balance. Two awesome things happened though. I didn't fall off and neither of us held a grudge. I have now ridden through my horse bucking. I have always fallen off before. And I know that she will quick bucking before I fall off. This is a great relief after Tonka Jane.

The rest of the lesson was spent with me practicing how to turn her properly and monitor her attention. Tomorrow I think we are taking to the outdoors where she is afraid.