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The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski

The Hazel Tree

by Julia Debski

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Wonderful Weekend

Sharlie , Casper and I taking a quick snack break
on one of our walks.
Fabulous Friday:

Friday evening Mum and I went down to the stables to visit the horses. Thing was is that my halters, lead ropes and carrot stick were in the other car and Dad had taken it for the evening to a baseball game. This meant we had to improvise.

I went and found one of those rope halters where the lead rope is attached. It was huge and I knew it really wasn't the best thing to use....but I had no other choice. I first took Sharlie out of the field and put her in the round pen to graze. Then I went back to go get Casper. The halter was so huge on him I was afraid it was going to slip off somehow. But it didn't.

The day before (Thursday) we renewed Casper's lease for 1 year. This year I asked for him to be brought into the stables in the winter when it gets super cold. This is because last winter when it snowed his joints became really painful and he was miserable. I was told that when he goes into the stall he freaks out. (O_o)

So we have an agreement now. I am going to work with Casper and the stall and if he can stay in the stall calmly by winter time, he can come in.

So first thing was to see what he would do right now if I asked him to go into the stall. So I led him into the barn and played the Touch It game with him because he was slightly nervous. We walked back and forth across the cement, which was very strange for him! Soon he had his ears pricked and was relaxing. So I opened the door to the stall and just suggested that he go in. I made a big point to only suggest at first, not force him in any way at all.

Casper poked his nose in a bit and looked around, but then politely declined my offer of going in the stall. I found it a reasonable answer so we walked away...and then came back. This time I asked him to go in and he did! He is so responsive now, it is truly amazing. He walked in and turned around to face outwards. I asked him to stay in there a moment so I could observe him. He was tense, there was no doubt about that. 

But he didn't seem to be itching to bash up against the walls or try and break his neck. 

I brought him a bit closer and stroked his face a few times. He relaxed a bit. Then I broke one of my main rules: Don't go into a stall with a horse. I found this to be an exception, even though it won't stay that way for long. Especially in case he did freak out. 

Anyway. I led him around the stall a few times and stopped him by some left over hay to eat. Leaving it on a good note, we exited the stall and made our way out to the grass in the front. 

I am rather puzzled by this. I am going to talk to Emily (Larramore) about it and ask her what I should do. I don't know if I should let him loose in the stall and see if he freaks out then, or not. What are some things I can do in the stall to help him relax? etc..etc..etc..

Next I went to go play at liberty a bit with Sharlie. Yea, usually I play online first. But I can only do that if there is a line for me to play with! Plus, the halter that I was using was currently on Casper. :P

I grabbed a lead rope and walked into the round pen. Sharlie lifted her head to look at me for a moment before returning to the grass. Ah, the grass. 

I raised my energy and clicked to her, sending her out around at a trot. She was introverted and dominant, trying to push into my space while looking outwards. I asked her to change direction again and again till she looked at me. I rewarded her by letting her come in and stand. However instead of coming to me she turned her back to me and began grazing! 

I sent her out again, but this time at a canter. She threw several bucks. Well I think they were bucks. They were so uncoordinated I wasn't quite sure. One leg in the air towards me and the other tucked under her belly...?

It took her some time to get into a nice balanced canter at which point I asked her to gallop. True, not the best thing to do in a round pen but we both enjoy it. This time all I had to do was raise my energy and she sprinted

We did some change of directions where she had to a sliding stop before turning around! Then we played a bit of the 'Mirror Me' game that was beginning to look like the Cutting game. I sent her out one last time.

Sharlie arched her neck as she trotted around the round pen. I took a step back and instantly she turned and came towards me. I moved to the right and she mirrored me. We went back and forth dancing, with no ropes or sticks in our way.

I felt like I could float away I was so happy. It was starting to get dark and we needed to take Sharlie & Casper back to the field. One problem: we only had one halter between the two of them. So what I did was I made a make-shift halter out of the lead rope I was using. I was worried that Sharlie would yank on the halter for the grass. But the whole walk back she was so soft and responsive to the feel, it blew my mind!

Friday was fabulous.

Happy pony! (Yea, even with the saddle on!)

Splendid Saturday:

I went down Saturday morning about 10 am to go play with Sharlie & Casper. (Obviously.) I didn't know if I wanted to ride or not, but since some other people were there riding their horse I thought "Okay, why not?" 
Casper had a party in the afternoon so I decided I would play with Sharlie. I played with her a little bit online, just some simple review of the games in Level 1/2. I probably should have played with her more but I was starting to get excited about riding again!

I put the bareback pad on, clipped on the reins and took her into the arena. I tried not to use the reins at all, or as little as possible. I was surprised when Sharlie would sometimes follow my focus. Then again, other times she didn't. 

When I tried to stop Sharlie with my body...NOTHING. I had to stop her with my reins, Phase 3 with my reins at that! Not good, not good at all! So for the next hour or so we did transitions from walking to stopping and back again. I did what Linda did in the video on the Savvy Club Site. (If you have seen it and you know what I'm talking about.) Well instead of stopping at every cone we tried to stop at every fence post. It took a lot of time for her to figure it out. I went through the 4 phases. Stop in my body/ blow air out/drop focus, move legs forward, say "oh", use the reins.

After about 45 minutes she started to seem to get it and start to slow down when I dropped my energy, hesitate and come to a juddering halt just before I had to pick up the reins. 

After that we did some weave and tried to do the figure 8 again without touching the reins. Still needs work, but a lot better than I ever thought we could do! 

Towards the end the ride I thought "Let me try one little trot. It will only be a few strides and then I can stop and know that at least I tried."

I raised my energy and squeezed and Sharlie picked up a very choppy trot and her head was high, her ears back. I ignored those and focused on moving with her. Moving my hips, relaxing my back, etc. 

Sharlie seemed rather surprised and actually tried to look around at me while she trotted. I felt so in sync with her it was amazing. We trotted several time around the arena, did a couple figure 8's. Sharlie never stopped once! She had her ears pricked, she was blowing out, yawning, relaxing, and beginning to lower her head!  

Overjoyed, I asked Sharlie to come back to a walk - with just my body language and a small "woah"- and took her out on a quick trail. 

After I played with Sharlie I haltered Casper and quickly saddled him up with the saddle & theraflex pad and took him on a quick trail ride. As we began our trail I did the same thing with him. 'A Million Transitions'. I asked him to stop (that took quite a bit of effort) then walk, stop, walk, stop. Then I took a deep breath and asked him to trot.

At first it was an impossible staccato, almost impossible to ride. But I did the same thing I did with Sharlie. Focus on moving with him and relaxing...and soon he was trotting with his ears forward and not trying to trot as fast as he possibly could. 

We had a lovely walk to the end of the path and back. Casper didn't try and snatch at the grass more than just a couple times nor did he try to speed walk. As we started to reach the barn again I saw Dad pull up so I asked Casper to trot back up to the barn. It started out calm but then the "foo,foo,foo,foo.." sound of the theraflex pad made as the saddle moved. He panicked a bit and I just asked him to walk again and it was all okay again :)

So quickly summarize the rest of the day: Casper did amazing at the party. I am so proud of him. He had his ears pricked, he remained calm and listened to me. He was fine with the big blue tent they set up and walked under it several times and grazed under it. 

I rode him a bit afterwards but quickly realized he was did NOT like that saddle at all. It was a mistake to ask him to trot but I did it anyways. He went super super fast and it was extremely choppy. Not fun.

One good point though is I found out Casper is very good at doing "Follow the Rail"!! 

There is an Australian saddle in the barn attic. I asked if I could try it out and Susan said yes! I am excited because its the perfect medium between English and Wester and I really hope it fits Casper....or maybe even Sharlie! 

If anybody sees any good deals on a new or almost-new Wintec 2000 All Purpose saddle, let me know at

Also: What is up with no comments?? NOBODY has commented on ANY of my Internship posts or anything since them! I feel unloved! :)


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