Sunday, May 29, 2011

stum or mum?

Well today is Mother's day here in France and it's been a lovely weekend, friends, food, wine (possibly too much) and gorgeous weather. The hay was cut, baled and barned. Lydia rode Chapiro and he was very good, a little jumpy to begin with but he settled well. Rain is forecast tomorrow, much needed and hope it doesn't pass us by again.
For the first time ever I was told to keep stum today! I am rarely controversial on forums but when I see someone pushing their horse beyond it's capabilities and being praised by others it pains me and I'm fed up with being quiet. Laugh was on me though, not allowed to tell the truth and my post was removed. Thank goodness on Heather's forum we can speak our minds and give horses a voice.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

More of the same with Chapiro doing liberty, bit of bareback/cordeo work, walking out in-hand (whilst working on our S-I and travers on our hills) and generally just getting the little man to chill. Finally he seems to be lots more relaxed and so the last couple of days we've put on the tack, obviously the bitless arrangement still and worked in-hand and yesterday I rode in tack.

A little vid of the in-hand just to show how difficult he finds stepping under, he's really getting this now and compared to earlier in the year it's hugely improved but still has a long way to go. I think taking it slowly has been the only way not to end up with a horse screwed up either mentally, physically or both  this (imho) is why so many poor horses have problems because their physical strengths/weaknesses are totally ignored in the early stages.

Don't look at me in the ridden work  sack of spuds comes to mind but I'm SO pleased that my little 'hos can move about with no more than a voice cue to stop and go and can listen to weight and rein aids but still remain relaxed. Most folks will think I'm mad to be holding back this long but I reckon this summer he'll go from strength to strength.

The trannies are a bit abrupt but this is the first time ever I've ridden them from just voice cues, he's wobbly in the turns but not resistant at all and the big test??? I just didn't want to get off! I did but only to lead him down the track and then ride home. It's put u back where we were when I stopped riding last autumn but this time it's all feeling much better. Onwards and upwards then.

Friday, May 20, 2011

oh YES

We have go and stop! The last few days I've been taking Chapiro down the track and stopping in the shade to chill and then continuing in shoulder-in/travers for a few steps and then halting, backing etc, generally high reinforcement CT tasks. He has responded really well and today I took him down to the school and used the same exercises, asking him to keep it very slow and relaxed throughout (by having lots of breaks and praise). It was a real breakthrough session and so I hopped on bareback for a few minutes and hey presto he was very forwards but with the ability to stop on voice this time, very happy with that. Went on to lunge a little stretchy trot and then walked up the lane to the neighbours, again with much stopping and chilling.

Moralejo had a little free jumping session this morning and incredibly my heffalump can actually get all four feet off the ground at the same time, he even made a pretty good shape a couple of time **shock** it does help free him behind.

Yesterday we had a lovely ridden session and he was able to maintain the stretch in trot with much less support than usual, we then had a lovely walk down the tracks on the buckle.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

patter of tiny feet

Well that was my initial thought, that Lydia was up and about at around midnight last night! Ahem no it was ouside and hardly tiny feet but 12 hooves as the three boys came to a halt from galop outside the front door! The boys have not escaped since living here but last night I stupidly forgot to close the gate on the other side of the paddock and by midnight it seems they'd had enough of the gypsy life and came to ask me to sort them out. They were quickly restored to the paddock (thank goodness for an illuminating moon) after being checked over (not one scratch, just Moo and Chaps rather puffed out!).

So this morning we had fairly quiet sessions so that I could check for any stiffness, particularly in Moo.
Chapsi and I did our regular walk down the track, worked on shoulder-in and rein back as he seems much less stressed about leaving the others when he has a job to do. We were out for about 30 minutes and he wasn't really stressed at all.

Moo had a stretchy lunge and he did start off a little stiffly but was fine after some gentle trot work, finished with some in-hand work by which time it was very warm, going to have to start working them even earlier to avoid flies.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yesterday made me smile. Chapiro embraced forwards with gusto! I didn't have the cordeo but hopped on with nothing after some liberty work and immediately after his CT for standing well he marched off with purpose! In fact he was so forward we rather forgot stop but heck forwards is good and I'll just go back and refresh the stop....

Thursday, May 12, 2011

bite my boot

Yesterday I tried a more simple bridle system with Chapiro and cobbled some reins onto a noseband. We started in-hand and then I hopped on bareback. I've noticed the way he 'chews' when he is stressed on our outings and sometimes in-hand too so the noseband was the initial fact finding mission. To be perfectly honest it was no different, he wasn't particularly stressed (apart from him being a naturally stressy lad) but on occasion he yawned and chewed.

Today we trialled the cordeo and it was a lot better. I'm afraid the video is rather dull (unless you're me) as I was free shaping (in other words just sitting there and waiting for something to happen) and in a 20 minute session he didn't do lots! LOL. I was very pleased with how relaxed he was and we did get some forward steps and I got to watch the golden orioles flying so it wasn't all bad! In fact it was rather good and I am now thinking this would be the best place to start. I know we can walk, trot and canter, we've got that T-shirt so it's a case of having the total relaxation and building from there. We'll see how it goes.

Moo had a good lunge session today and he's looking rather well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's been a bit quiet on this here blog, not because I haven't been working with the boys but because I have family (or rather OH's family!!!) here and internet time is rationed or impossible!

Moo is great at the minute, there's vid below of us bumbling about in the school the other day and I've had a couple of good ridden sessions and some fat-busting lunge work. He is striding out on the buckle round the tracks now which is lovely, probably has a lot to do with the heat but whatever the reason it's very welcome. We've also fitted some liberty shaping CT into our days and he's getting ever more confident in offering things.

Chapiro has had a couple of lunge sessions and most days we're managing a walk up the lane or down the tracks. Today I feel was a little milestone on this front; we saddled up (I'm planning for the day that I start to ride him home) and went down the tracks, he walked off on my voice aid every time and wasn't at all 'sticky' about leaving the others. When we got a little way I did some short ground tying work and he got a juicy mini-branch out of the hedge as his treat for each click, he rather liked that game. When we got to the hay field he was still very calm and remained so as we took the track around the edge. Every time he got slightly ahead of my stride we stopped and had a scratch before setting off again. When we were nearly all the way round I turned back and retraced our steps, still calm!! Again we stopped for scratches and the odd CT and only had teeth grinding a couple of times. Before heading on the homeward track I again asked him to turn away from home a couple of times and he remained pretty calm. On the way home we used the stroking hand to ask the shoulder fore and a 'pulsing' finger for travers, both reins we got great relaxation and so we stopped for more mini-branches from the tree and ground tying before finally making it back to the yard.

I know these things don't sound much but for my fizzy, dizzy little fella it's just great and his progress is measurable; softly, softly catchy monkey!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I still haven't written my plan but I have worked the boys so it's not all bad. Funnily enough it's working out that I cover at least a couple of bases during each session.

Yesterday I led Chapiro down the track and round the bottom field with a 5 minute stop for a munch part way round, he was much calmer in general and was happy to stop off into the shelter and do some leg stretches etc. We walked back past the yard and off up the lane to the neighbours and then back down to the school for a stretchy lunge. It was a definite improvement in terms of his calmness.
Today was a fatbuster day with an energetic lunge session followed by some in-hand working on the shoulder fore/in  and to finish a little shaping with the CT. I'm not using CT for the energetic lunge work because it just gets too stilted.

Moo had his energetic day yesterday and then some in-hand trot work using some moving massage from my fingers and finished with some CT shaping....he's really funny doing this and it's great to see how he's getting the hang of making his own decisions and getting a reward for it.

No work for Moo today as whilst I was in the school with Chapsi the heavens opened along with a raucous storm, we are in real need of rain and Moo didn't complain at getting off the hook!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

in the groove

Good week end with more lovely spring weather.
Saturday Lydia videoed Moo and I doing an Interdressage horsemanship test, I hadn't really planned on doing it but as part of my 'planning' theme at the moment it seemed a good way to get some feedback and perhaps push me to do something I wouldn't otherwise do. I was badly prepared (oops) but Moo tried his heart out even if I couldn't quite get my act together! It wasn't a total disaster but perhaps the judge was being kind because I know we could have done better. Really looking forward to reading my score sheet to see if I agree with the judge ;))

Today I spent some time with Chapsi at liberty, he decided we'd work on head down, so we did and then we spent time on neck flexion (again his idea) I'm not sure I got it attached to a cue like the head down but he seemed happy.

 Then I popped the headcollar on and worked in hand. As I mentioned the other day I'm really trying to keep him out of my space when leading and at liberty so I was CT'ing for walk on and halt when keeping a good space between us and again he was obliging. Then on to a little shoulder fore which he seems 'excited' about (not in a good way though), he rushes off at a brisk walk and then we encounter the other 'to work on' problem of keeping him with me. To cut a long thought process short (thank goodness they cry) I have decided to change the physical cue. Currently my  aid is to draw my lead hand  towards me a little (just a thought of a feel really) and then connect with my other hand on his inside shoulder which  brings the shoulder in whilst keeping the movement forward down the track. Today instead of a constant touch at the shoulder I found that a more lightly stroking hand wound him up less. I'll have to see if it was a fluke or if he really does prefer this new aid.

 We finished with some trot work on the lunge and then walked up the lane past the house and up to the neighbours, he was very calm and behaved perfectly.  

Moo was just fab with some slowing of the walk and lateral work, finished after 30 mins and went down the tracks in the evening sunshine, managed to avoid any jogging by slowing the trot on the steep parts of the hill, great end to the week end.