Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day One

We decided that Callas would benefit by learning to stand tied and learning to
stand tied on the high line is the first step for that work.

We started in the round pen so that we could check out how well she could move
her feet. Kathleen had me stand outside the round pen with the lead rope wrapped
twice around a round pen upright. If she set back hard I was supposed to let go
but otherwise hold steady. With the rope wrapped around the post, the horse can
give herself a perfect release. The instant she gives the rope gives.
Kathleen used the flag and started asking Callas to move from side to side. Callas
was pretty dramatic at first and had a hard time keeping her mind in the pen and had a
hard time moving from side to side and switching eyes. Once she was moving
pretty proficiently from side to side, we took her over to the high line.

It wasn't set up for big warmbloods so she had to learn one additional skill-how to drop her head a bit and get below the cross beam. Then we tied her there (with a special knot I don't remember the name of) and stood back to watch and make sure that she could get turned around, could get herself untangled if the rope wrapped around her ears (she has BIG ears!) - and then we let her be. She spent the rest of the morning circling and screaming for Shad.

Callas is a bit of a cribber-she doesn't do it much at home, but she was getting into the paddock fence, so we decided that she could go out into a pasture with different fencing. There was also a herd out there for her to interact with so at lunchtime we put her out there. It was pretty fascinating-she ran back and forth on the fenceline screaming for Shad while all the other horses just stood and looked at her like she was a lunatic.

The other gal who is studying here this week (Hilary) went into the round pen and started working with Tuesday, one of Kathleen's horses. He is a nice little QH/Perch cross. Hilary was doing some neat work with him and it's a real benefit to be able to watch some one else. I won't be talking about her work much or this would start to turn into a novel! Meanwhile Shad was alone in the paddock running and screaming for Callas.

In the afternoon, we checked the western saddle for fit on Shad and Kathleen gave it the thumbs up. She would have liked to seen a little more flare at the shoulders but it was okay. So I climbed aboard and rode him.

Shad was having a hard time keeping his attention in the ring and he was doing what I call a hard walk. He was walking because he knew he was supposed to be, but his inside was sure not much about walking. Kathleen had me turn him in a circle when he got hard until he softened and then we staightened into a release. I needed to work on getting in more quickly and decisively when I felt him start to get bothered. I also tend to not ask for an intense enough turn to get his mind back.

So we worked on that until he got quite a bit softer, then I started asking him for a whoa. He pushed really hard into the whoa, got really heavy and once stopped couldn't keep his feet still for more than a few seconds. We returned to the lesson of the circle and the lesson for me to get in there faster so that a small bother didn't get any bigger (it's a toughie that one!). We worked on this quite a bit until Shad offered some good quiet moments and then stopped with that.

Both pones were reunited in their paddock (I picked up a cribbing collar for Callas at lunchtime) and we all had a well deserved rest!

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