Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed . . .

It was sharply windy and somewhat cold yesterday - low 40sF but colder with the wind - so Maisie and I groomed where the barn gave us some protection. While we were there, Bob (the naturally tailless) barn cat came out to enjoy the sun too:

Maise loves cats, and especially likes to gently snuff-a-whuff their fur; Bob was not concerned as he knows how gentle she is about it:

(Thanks to our wonderful barn lady for the excellent cell-phone pictures!)

I rode briefly - I should have lunged first but didn't. We walked around a bit on the trails close to the barn, and although Maisie was well-behaved, she was wound pretty tightly, so we made our way back to the barn and did some simple exercises on the field behind the barn - circles, serpentines, leg-yields, turns on the haunches, backing. She relaxed a little bit, but not enough to do much more, so I called it a day.

Today we tried again. It was a little bit warmer and a little bit less windy. After we groomed, we did some lungeing - we worked on walking, trotting and halting on voice commands (I haven't done this with her before but she picked it up immediately). Then we did some precision transition work, where I would ask her to trot only a few steps before walking a few steps and so on. We also did some direction changes.

Then we worked in the arena. First I placed a stack of 4 red traffic cones on a fence post. Then, after I mounted, Maisie and I rode up to the cones and carried them one at a time and dropped them at various points in the arena. She'd never done this before but did great - she didn't mind my picking up and holding the cone at all. Then we did some trotting sets - very few straight lines so she couldn't build up momentum - lots of circles and serpentines using the cones as focus points. It was pretty good - I did almost all the trot work in sitting trot, which seems to help her not get too excited. She was distracted at some points by my daughter riding Dawn in the arena, but managed to cope.

Finally, as a reward (I hope she thought it was a reward!), we took a short trail ride. We didn't get too far from the barn, but took a loop she hadn't taken before. Other than some tension due to a yapping dog, she did very well. She wanted to speed up heading back, but was able to respond when I asked her to slow, stop or back.

Much better than yesterday!

16 comments:

  1. That sounds great. All the pre-ride exercises sound like they helped a lot and got her focused on you. Thanks for some good ideas.

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  2. Sounds like two days of positive work for Maisie. You always talk of her "snuff-a-whuffing" kitties. It was great to see her and Bob in the photos together.

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  3. Sounds like a much better day the second time around.

    I love playing obstacle games with cones, barrels, poles, etc. in the arena. The horses seem to enjoy it also.

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  4. My parents used to have a Maine Coon cat named Bob. Your Bob is a real cutie!

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  5. What a fun idea! I am so unimaginative in the arena, and really there are so many things you can do there. Thanks!

    Glad she had a better day - and you had the time to lunge her.

    How fun to see her sniffing at the cat.

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  6. That is great! It is good to try some different things. They are so hard to think of sometimes, but those are some great ideas.

    Very cute kitty~ pony pictures!

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  7. Cute pictures!
    I used to take Brandy on a short "ride" through our property trails when I was done training for a reward. She used to love it, but most of our trails are now gone due to adding more horse pastures and arena!

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  8. I wish Panama were good with other creatures. He is interested in kitties but hasn't had a chance yet to get close. Unfortunately, he does try to play with dogs, so if they get too close they get a bite on the rump, just like he would with another horse -- not too hard, but enough to get their attention.

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  9. Its so nice to hear you are getting out more as the weather improves. I do lots of walk trot transistions and they are great for getting your horse tuned in. We have our opening hunt this weekend so I will be doing similar exercises to get Trix thinking straight(hopefully) .........love the cat!!!

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  10. Sounds like a wonderful day!

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  11. Souds like both rides were good in a way, she brought you home safely each time, but the second ride wow! what a good girl!

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  12. I prefer the sitting trot. I am trying to master the sitting trot anyway so I don't get too jouncy in the saddle. Sometimes though once I start posting I thing: Aaah, this is so much easier!
    I am going to try the traffic cone idea!
    Isn't it rewarding to have a good ride on your horse?!

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  13. Great day for you both, with repetition it'll get easier and easier still ;)

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  14. That's a great idea about putting the cones on the fence. The horses get so used to seeing them on the ground, but on the fence they become a whole different sight.

    There is an award for you at my blog. You needn’t play if you’ve already received this. Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your blog and have linked to it at: http://onceuponanequine.blogspot.com/2010/03/beautiful-award.html.

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  15. Some of my horses loves to nuzzle kitties too. It's so interesting to see how gentle they can be with their furry friends.

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  16. A good day of riding. The wind can be really distracting so the fact that Maisie concentrated for you speaks volumes of your success.

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