Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lope Your Wild Ponies, Please Lope

I feel kinda bad for my friend Shelley. She drew a very powerful and reactive mare for the Northwest Extreme Mustang Makeover. Atta Girl showed a lot of promise early on. She was smart and responsive, but Shelley sensed the power this girl had and has been very careful in how she handles her. The mare was coming along nicely and Shelley felt she was ready to climb on. Attie disagreed. Strongly. Thankfully Shelley had the foresight to plunk a cowboy up there for the ride, but Attie was in a blind panic the moment that leg swung over her back.

After a few exchanged emails with myself and another friend who competed in Sacramento with us, Shelley decided Attie needed to step back a bit. She hauled out all sorts of props and began to slowly add them to the saddle so that Attie would become slowly desensitized to seeing things out of the corner of her eyes. Shelley emailed tonight to tell of Attie's explosive reaction.

Attie's fear level reminds me a bit of Sandy, but with one major difference; Attie has the power of a stick of dynomite. Or a case. Either way, this is certainly a challenge for Shelley and I pray that she doesn't feel too discouraged.

Meanwhile, here with Steve Holt! things are progressing. I'm a bit nervous about putting too much time into him during each session. I'm not typically one to work long hours with one horse, but with things so wet here, there's no way I can do two short sessions. Today we spent over 2 hours at the riding club. We did a lot of in hand work such as backing an L, sidepassing, and trotting around cones. This stuff is coming along nicely. I broke it up with a few minutes of lunging now and then...working at keeping it slow, relaxed, and listening for the whoa. Steve Holt! likes to keep his feet moving, so the circles are a nice way for him to relax after the detail work.

Between all this was time to hang out with each other and get scratched all over the face. He still didn't want me to put his halter on today, but while in the arena he dropped his head down low and I was able to rub all over his poll and inside his ears, even. He was definitely relaxing.

By the time I got into the round pen and climbed on, Steve Holt! had been put into a frame of mind that helped him stay calm, cool, and collected. You'll see his head is carried at a nice level while walking and that he's not all too nervous about the trot. Best yet, you'll see Steve Holt! take his first few strides of lope with a rider. I was terribly pleased as his first few times loping on the lungeline found him a bit unbalanced. Since then he's really figured out how to use his body while in a tight space.

To top things off, I decided to spend a couple minutes outside of the round pen. He was a bit unsure how to behave since he didn't have a rail to help hold him together, but managed to figure it out.


froglander said...

Wow Tracey, he's looking awesome! The lope even looked pretty relaxed. He may have felt lost not having his roundpen walls, but he looked pretty good out there stepping over poles and stuff in the arena.

And tell Miss Darling that she needs to add Sandy to the credits, those looked like his ears, was she on him while videoing?

Jessie said...

Way to go Steve Holt! and Tracey!!

Dixie said...

Tell Shelley It will all work out, just take a deep breath and don't get discouraged.
Andy's mare Gracie was the same way.
She was VERY Explosive and quite the Power House.
But, by the time we went to Sacramento look what she was like,
Gracie is an Amazing horse and she will do anything for Andy.

You are doing SO good, Steve Holt! Looks great.

Tracey said...

Thank you, ladies!

Frog, I looked at the video of us in the arena and thought he looked way more relaxed than he felt. He reminds me of one of those high achiever kids who puts a lot of stress on themselves while making everything look easy. I really need to be careful not to fry his brain :)

Oh...and it was me who did the editing. I thought about adding Sandy's ears...I may have to go back and do that, lol.

Dix, so good to hear from you! I'll let Shelley know that Gracie was like that. Now that you bring it up, I do recall your mentioning it while he was working with her. Thanks for the encouragement!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You two are doing really well. Even my horses that I've been riding for six years don't look that relaxed. What's your secret? I see you do a lot of petting and rubbing for reassurance.

froglander said...

Well you did a good job with the editing Tracey, video was very nice :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Tracey, Steve Holt! looks GREAT! You've come a long way. He sure has NICE movement and NICE conformation. That trot has me drooling to turn him into a dressage horse. Keep up the good work!
Karen & Ranger

stormyranch said...

SH looks great! Awesome job Tracey!!!

Shirley said...

I sure enjoy your videos, it helps us to really see the progress you're making. Great job! And I hope your friend persists with her mare; sometimes the hardest ones to get through to make the best partners.

Tracey said...

Nuzzling, you can never do too much petting and praising :) I just keep everything as low key as possible with lots of stops and good boys.

Thanks, Frog...I'm learning, lol!

Karen, doesn't he just float?

Lisa/Kevin, thank you! He's not quite as far as Princess, but we're coming along.

Shirley, you're right about those horses becoming great partners. I think it's because we pour so much of ourselves into them, and then suddenly it all clicks...and of course by then we've fallen completely in love, lol!

Lea and her Mustangs said...

Wow Tracey - you are doing great. I may come over at the end of the month for a couple of days and I will see you. Don't know yet.Just thinking about it.

gtyyup said...

Tracey, his lope looks beautiful! The progress you're making is should be very proud!

Excellent video too...ears and all ;~)

Hope Shelley is able to get her horse past the stage she's in. One of the things I got from Todd is using the rail...rider is up standing on the rail (horse is haltered and saddled) and using a dressage whip, tap the horse's off hip to teach it to side step towards you. After that point, while you're above them, you can start moving the saddle around, put your leg onto the saddle, put your leg on the horse's rump, put your leg onto the other side of the horse...all with your standing leg on the outside of the rail. So, if the horse steps away, you're still standing on the rail...hope that makes sense. We've had a lot of success with that method. Email me if you're interested in more info.

Linda Reznicek said...

You and Shelley are both very brave to be this far in your training anyway--and during the winter--I think she's doing great. Steve Holt! looks awesome!

Jeanette said...

WOW!!! Nicely done!!! And, I noticed the whoa from the lope!!! Nice and quiet. He makes it look easy!

Tracey said...

Lea, I hope you can make it! I'd love for you to meet Steve Holt! in person, and it's always good to catch up with you.

Karen, thank you! I'll pass this on to Shelley. She's actually laid across the mare's back bareback, which is crazy...but it was before the whole saddling issue.

Linda, thank you, too! I think he looks great...but I'm his mommy :)

Jeanette, I'm so glad you noticed the whoa! Using the lead rope as a reminder has really helped him put 2 + 2 together.