Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thank You, Kitty!

If it weren't for Kitty's video's from last years Extreme Makeover, I may just be feeling as though I were falling behind.

Now deep down I know that's not the case. And I know you take each horse along at the speed they're capable of moving. I've done it before and know they're all different. And I've encouraged others who've posted in the past about not being as quick about getting into the saddle on their competition horses. I know better. Still, you read about those who're in the saddle by the second or third day and you're left wondering if you really are going to be able to lay that foundation quickly enough to give your horse half a shot at a competitive ride.

So just to give myself a boost, I went back to Kitty's website and watched Ranger's week one video. He learned to lead. He got ponied. He worked at lunging. And he was flagged. His start wasn't rushed, and in the end, he placed second.

Sandy is doing well. He's also lunging. He leads nicely in his small pen. I wish I had a pony horse, but we'll just have to manage without. And you know how I just love flagging my horses, so we'll skip that and find other methods. But overall, after four days he's doing well. Still concerned about me crossing that invisible line, and you can see in his photo below that he's got a nervous look. He's allowing me into his space a bit more readily each day.

We seem to have conquered the 'stud lips' issue of day three. Evidently his little experience with the rope caught unexpectedly behind him caused him to believe he'd better keep his lips and teeth to himself. Funny, when you think about it. It was all a result of his actions, like tipping over that first domino in a long row. He took a nip, retaliated with a small, half hearted rear when I scolded him. When I got after him for that and sent him off in circles, he made a wrong turn and got the rope behind him. That really got him moving, and in the end he thought the whole thing was a result of active lips. And it was, of course...but he managed to carry out the punishment himself in a most effective way.

Day four saw him still hesitant to have me alongside of him. He tends to want to back up alongside fences and walls for security while I touch him, and I don't have any problems with that. Everyone needs a security blanket, right? But as I ran my hand down his back, something triggered a violent reaction and he lashed out with his hind feet. He didn't kick at me; he could have turned his body or kicked forward for that. Instead, he kicked straight back. And what a racket he made when those legs hit the panels! Naturally, I got after him at the same time, and in his mind it all tied together. In his mind, kicking caused me to smack him with panels, which not only made noise, but I'm sure they stung a bit, too. On top of which, he found himself working in more circles. Needless to say, he was a well behaved boy for the remainder of our session.

One of the things I'm working on is having him lift his front legs with a rope. He's nervous having me touch him below the elbow, so the rope helps him become accustomed to the feel of something down there without me sticking my head down low where I increase the odds of getting hurt. As you can see, he's pretty good at lifting his leg when pressure is applied. I worked both left and right legs, asking him to pick them up and step forward towards me. He did it quite willingly without any rebellion.

After the rope tricks, I decided to push him a bit. I grabbed the saddle blanket (which, along with the saddle, sits on the rail in his stall) and walked around giving it little shakes. Frightened a bit at first, after a couple of snorts Sandy reached out to sniff it. A couple small circles later and he was letting me touch his shoulders and rub his neck with it. A bit timid, a little worried, but his feet stayed still. With such a huge leap of faith on his part, I had to put the blanket away and tell him what a good boy he was. One quick pet on the neck and I was out of there.

When I went out to feed last night, Sandy didn't try to leave as I walked into his paddock. He stood and let me rub on his face and even allowed me to walk to his shoulders and scratch on them. He came a long way on day four!


Mrs Mom said...

Tracey girl, keep it up. You and Sandy are doing fantastic. Just remember to take the time it takes, as it will go faster in the long run ;)

You have the feel, and the timing, and you also have the empathy he needs.

The next time you start having those doubts and second thoughts creep in, kick yourself square in the tush from me. You are going to be fine- Sandy is going to do incredibly well with you, and Life Is Good!

Life Is What You Make It. So anticipate smoothness and success, and darnitall that is what you will get! ;)

Chin up!

Mud Ranch said...

Don't feel rushed Tracey. I think you know that that is one of the worst things you can do to a horse. You'll do great with Sandy, and if you get him sacked out well enough, you'll be riding him *safely* in no time.

What HMA is Sandy from anyway? Devils Garden? Twin Peaks? Fox Hog? Huh??

Oh, and I'm bummed I couldn't meet with you in Redding. I had prior engagements for that morning. ;)

Mud Ranch said...

PS: Can you borrow a pony horse?

Tracey said...

Chin is up, Mrs Mom! He really is doing well, and I need to not push him beyond his capability. I'll give myself a square tush kicking for you.

Mud, I've been wondering if I know anyone with a good pony horse. It'd have to be very well broke and good sized, too, in order to combat Sandy's strength. Deep down this boy is a war horse. He just hasn't figured that out yet! And I'm bummed, too, that we didn't get to meet that day. But June will be here before you know it!

20 meter circle of life said...

you arre doung great!!!

projectjasper said...

You're doing great! Oddly enough I was watching Kitty's videos today, she did a great job of documenting her training. Sorry I missed you but I'm sure it was a long haul.

Tracey said...

Thank you, ladies!

Rising Rainbow said...

Boy, I'm with mrs mom! One step at a time with a solid foundation will get you so much farther in the long run.

I love the work on his legs with the rope. That's something I learned from Harvey. It's so much safer and really gets the job done.

You're doing great. The only time you need to be thinking about the clock is whether you work today or not. With this kind of deadline missing a day affects things. Other than that, just do what you do. You'll both be fine.

I think Sandy is a brave horse and it sounds like he's a thinker too. That's a good combination if you ask me. I like how he puts things together and decides it's smarter to go with the flow.

Netherfieldmom said...

He has a beautiful, intelligent face. Take it easy and is already showing progress--due to you!! Hang in there...lots of chocolate, maybe.

Anonymous said...

You are doing great Tracey. I am excited for you. Lea

Tracey said...

Mmmmm....lots of chocolate! My favorite response so far, lol!