January 08, 2013

Move Those Feet...Just a Little.

Yes! Finally a weekend with nothing scheduled and nice weather! It was 40-50 this weekend and the snow was melting….for now, we’ll get more the end of this week, uge. This weekend I wanted to start some Clinton Anderson round pen exercises.

The round pen had drifts of snow in it when I arrived. I grabbed a shovel and started to see how deep it was but decided that perhaps doing the indoor arena jump set up would work. I took about 30 minutes to get 6 jumps set up in a corner of the indoor arena. I was mostly a circle…. A couple riders asked me what I was doing, cocking their heads in curiosity. Once I explained it made sense to them.

I went out to get Dani. We approached the “round pen” and I let her sniff it as I walked her around a couple times. Then I released her and asked her to trot. Attitude!!! She reared up away from me at the fence line and then went around a few times and tried to change directions which I corrected. Then she looked downwards trying to climb under the jump. This she could have easily done since you know that jump cross bars are only held with cups and meant to fall down easily. After a couple times of her trying that I decided this just wasn’t going to work. How could I fully apply the pressure I need to get her moving if she could easily escape through the jump and perhaps run loose in the arena, interrupting the lesson happening on the other side.

Uge. I grabbed her and tied her up to the fence and began taking down the “fences”. What a pain. I decided to go back out to the round pen outside and see what I could do. Dani explored the pen while I began shoveling snow out of the area. There was no hard ice at least so I felt it would be safe at least at the trot. When I finally finished, I want to say about 1 hour to 1.5 hours since I first arrived at the farm to do this, I was finally able to start working Dani. Point, cluck and spank to get her in the right direction. At first Dani needed more incentive to trot where I was pointing, the spanking of the stick and string on the ground behind her was enough to get her to know where to go.
After she went around a couple times I stepped out in front of her drive line and stepped backwards to get her to turn into me.  A couple times I went flying because that darn step in the middle of the round pen!! On a side note someone here trains their horse to stand on the step and it's really heavy, needs the bobcat to move it so it stays, I've asked and really don't want them to have to move it if I can work around it.  I just have to learn to work around it and pay attention to where it is behind me!  I fell twice, landed pretty hard on my butt and one time my feet went up in the air as a car was driving past the pen.  Oh how embarrassing!!!

Anyways, Dani did well when turning into her left side (despite her owner flipping over the darn step!) and then moving off clockwise but she had issues with her right side. When she was going clockwise and I stepped and backed up she ignored me so I ended up walking a ways around the fence line to her, applying pressure near her shoulder to get her to turn. I can’t say that ears didn’t get pinned and hind legs didn’t kick out at times…she is feisty and not happy being told what to do and will certainly let you know! I think she is one of the higher ranking mares in the paddock by her behavior, so she's got a bit of spunk. I just kept moving her feet when any disrespect was given. It will be a process.

 We continued for a time, she never fully turned in on her right side but we both needed a break and I wanted to yield her hindquarters and have her follow me in arcs. A++ on that! We came to a stopping point, I made sure she had her rests on her difficult side to help encourage her to do what I wanted.

When we were finally done, I hosed off her legs since they were very muddy. She had worked up a sweat too so walking her to cool her down was part of our post round pen activities. All in all I think she did well for the first time.

The next day the round pen was even less snowy so Dani and I went directly out there. I kept having issues with her right side turning, I may have to use the “insurance plan” of a halter and long line to SHOW her what I want since it doesn’t seem to be clicking. I have to work more on that side. I’ve tried getting really close then doing the backing away to draw her inwards to turn. I’ve hustled her, stepped and backed up and then when she ignored me went back to chasing her hip like in the instructions and tried again. It will just take time and consistency, and the long line may help.

Still all in all, it feels good to start this program and feel like I have steps I can take towards a final goal.  I’m not sure what I can do this week because of how dark it gets once I'm off work but honestly if I need to use the halter and lead I can do this exercise in the indoor arena sans round pen.  I also don’t want to have a lot of concentrated effort on her running around the pen for several reasons, right now the footing isn’t the best and she's kind of a pasture puff right now.  She needs to get in better shape before I demand too much from her physically.

Yesterday I only swung by the barn to check on her legs, no swelling or heat she seems to be holding up well.  The awesome thing was Dani walked away from her hay and came up to me!  She’s never done that!  Usually she looks at me and goes back to eating, she doesn’t have an issue with me walking up to her or catching her but she’s never left her food for me!  Perhaps she thought I had a treat or perhaps she is starting to realize I’m her mom and the boss mare.  Either way I scratched her and loved on her so much!!  I know this hard and slow work will pay off!


Emmi said...

Haha horsey attitude, gotta love it :) Also yay for no heat or swelling!

Lauren said...

I think it is really selfish of the girl who teaches her horse to stand on a block to make the round pen virtually unusable for others. I do extensive CA fundamentals and it is going to be near impossible to really work around that, especially in the beginning. I know I run all over our round pen when starting a new horse on CA. I don't think it is fair for that person to make everyone else's life difficult just for her own amusement.

P.S. - your Sunday pic is ADORABLE!

AmberRose- Girl With a Dream said...

mare with attitude :) Glad there was no hear or swelling!

Christie said...

Lauren, I agree but I'm not wanting to rock the boat at this point. Aside from the two falls/trips the first day I got used to it and it really didn't get in my way that much. We'll see how it goes, because of the winter I may not use the round pen that much but come spring and light after work I may be in there more and I'll voice my need for it to be removed. Right now I'm not in there that much to the point that I feel I would be the selfish one, if that makes sense. When I really start using it more I'll make some waves if necessary for sure!!!

lytha said...

wonderful that you see the reward from a relationship really clicking.

i read your blog for inspiration. i hope to share your optimism about a horse someday soon.

Lauren said...

Yea, I totally get where your coming from. Especially being new to a barn. I just hate seeing large boarding situations ruled by one load person. I have been at SO MANY of those type of barns, that I feel for other people who are! I am glad you were able to figure it out and that Dani is learning so fast! She is such a cute little mare!

Ruffles said...

Love the pic of dani lying down. So adorable. I love the Clinton Anderson program and it sounds like you guys will do great on it.

Christie said...

Lytha, thank you so much. That means a lot. I know you'll find a nice horse to begin a relationship. I'm sure it's still hard to think about with Baasha gone but when it's right it will happy. Optimistic thoughts headed across the Atlantic to you!!