Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tips on making horsemanship progress even in the winter!

Making the best of the winter weather and getting a chance to play with your horse can seem like a challenge at times, particularly for those of us who live anywhere that gets below freezing! If you’re someone who likes to keep feeling in your toes and appreciates a normal colored nose vs. your nose’s best impression of Rudolph, it can seem hard to get motivated to keep up with your New Year goals and go out to play with your horse! Well, I feel your pain! When it takes 10 minutes to bundle up, 10 minutes to de-bundle your horse, and by the time you’ve groomed and are ready to play you’ve lost feeling in your fingers, it can seem like a far reach to practice your refinement under 6 layers.

I have to say Quick and I have experienced the same thing. So with all the extra time sitting in front of the heater to warm up I came up with a plan to stay on track even when the weather doesn’t seem like the most willing partner. I realized that during my daily horse chores I can add in a little progress. For example, I need to bring Quick from the pasture up to the barn for grain and Parelli Essentials J, well Pat says there are only 7 games in 5 zones so why not make the walk from zone 5 (after all my one rein driving could use a little more straightness) and when we come across a puddle or mud patch I can use my body language to turn him on the way to the barn, it’s working as a great point to point to help his straightness! Then I take an extra 2 minutes and just before I grain him we play with the clippers, what a great way to set up a positive pattern – put up with the vibrating clippers and then get something you love – grain! And as you can imagine we have to go back to the pasture (good draw) so I can practice two things that could always be better backwards and sideways “The better your horse goes backwards and sideways the they do everything else”, so we play a little ‘Rockslide’ on the way back to the pasture.

I vary the routine slightly but at least this way I get some progress time in with him even on the days that are below freezing and we get a chance to stay connected during the challenging winter months. I hope this helps inspire some ideas on how you could make the best of the time with your horse even if it is limited. Stay warm ad have a progressive winter!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Week With Kathy and Quick "Seek The Jump"

As I move forward in my jumping goals with Quick it becomes increasingly important that he seek the jump and choices to go over it. I choose to use Liberty as the savvy to focus on for this week in my jumping play sessions with Quick. At the start after looking at Quick’s Self-Assessment checklist I chose to have my week goal be jumping upright barrels at liberty, away from the round pen rail. The photo above is from Day 5 at about 15’ away while keeping my carrot stick in neutral. Below is a brief outline of our progress during the week to get here:

Day 1: For a warm-up before going to liberty, I asked Quick to jump the single barrel laying down (SBLD) from a walk at 12’, then the same at 22’ feet. Both distances he was able to ‘seek the barrel and jump with just a suggestion (phase 1). I then asked for the same at the trot. Once this was going well we moved into the round pen. I asked for him to jump 3 BLD set against the fence, and progressed to one barrel laying down against the rail.

Day 2: We warmed up with a liberty review from day 1. All went well, next we moved to 3 laying down barrels off the rail, no problem  So, on to 2 and then 1. We finished on 3 upright barrels against the rail via squeeze game.

Day 3: We started with 2 barrels against the rail and reviewed the day before. With everything going well we moved to 3 upright barrels about 3 feet off the rail. Once Quick was able to hunt this jump we finished our round pen session with a bucket of grain inside the round pen 

Day 4: We warmed up reviewing the previous days. When I moved to 3 upright barrels a few feet off the rail I played some stick to me with the barrels ‘in the way’ to be sure I was clear in my communication that the ‘jump’ was the solution to this puzzle, success with the upright barrels and stick-to-me. We finished with some grazing inside of the round pen.

Day 5: Again, we warmed up briefly reviewing the previous days. Things were going well, so I asked for a 3 upright barrels from 12’, then 15’ using squeeze game. Quick is such a great partner and loves to figure out puzzles! So, this was a fun week for us both.