We had alotted about an hour and a bit per horse. After a run to lovely Starbucks and being wished a sparkling day by the man working the drive-thru, we started with Casper.
After yesterday's amazing break throughs, I wanted to continue on what we already had, which was cantering bareback and some more Zone 5 driving. Also, I wanted to try and fix our Sharing and Taking Territory and for Casper to give me two eyes and ears more.
We started out with a bucket of feed. While he didn't circle nearly as much as he did yesterday. However eventually we realized that he was more distracted by the feed than he should be. So we removed the feed. Simple as!
We did however share some very special moments when he came to meet me when I was kneeling by the bucket of grain. The photo above will be my new profile picture for Facebook in a few days.
He was definitley much less distracted with the feed gone and we were able to be more connected. I began some more driving like yesterday. We had a bit more trouble with it than yesterday, but ended on a nice point.
Doesn't he look super handsome and relaxed?? This was the 'crazy uncontrollable horse' two years later... :)
I was still very sore (still am. Still will be.) but I still hopped on Casper. I was excited to canter again! And I literally HOPPED on him. I jumped on him from the ground! That is a first right there! Whoop whoop!
Cantering bareback on Casper was a very refreshing change because it was easy and natural for me.
Even Emily said that my seat looked great. Also, I wasn't afraid (for the most part) even though it felt like he was going fast (or it felt like it).
There were some troubles with me keeping a loose rein. I would sometimes pull on the inside rein. I think partly to keep my balance when I got a little unstable going into or out of the canter, and also I felt a bit nervous about the panels again.
Casper's turn was up and we ended it on cantering on a nice loose rein!
Sharlie's turn was pretty simple. We did some liberty and refined our Stick-to-Me with stops and backing up.
Online we played with sideways towards, which she was phenomal at! Yesterday we tried it a couple of times at Liberty and she either backed up or did Sideways away so I wanted to correct it before it became a habit.
With the remaining time we tried to get her to lie down again. Unfortunatley she didn't go down this time, but that is alright. It isn't worth losing our relationship over. Who knows? Maybe when I try again next time she will do it! Or maybe she will do it in 3 months. Point is, its just a trick. A really awesome trick that I would love to be able to do, but still just a trick.
Something I want to pat myself on the back for was when Emily used some ropes on Sharlie's leg to make it easier for both Emily's back and arms and for Sharlie. Emily held Sharlie's leg up tucked neatly against her Zone 3 and held it there the entire time. Despite Sharlie not lying down, she still tried to figure out what we wanted and she didn't freak out about having her leg 'tied'. (Emily was holding it the entire time)
So in fact, it wasn't really playing with lying down. It was playing with EXTREME Porcupine Game! I think Emily said Level 4...? I was very proud about that. VERY PROUD! Sometimes these things happen and you didn't really work on them, or you haven't worked on them in a while and suddenly your horse blows your mind. I love those moments.
Also I forgot to mention that last night I mounted Sharlie from the neck bareback!! How awesome is that? For forever I have been unable to mount either Sharlie or Casper from the ground. (Sad, I know.)
Now I can do both! How fabulous! Mom and I counted up how many hours of play we did with the horses, and we calculated about 18-19 hours! Pretty impressive if you ask me!
Tomorrow at 5:30 am I am flying to Charleston, South Carolina via Charlotte. I am flying by myself for the first time ever. I've flown all my life but it is still scary doing it by yourself. Wish me luck!!
Robin Harris's lesson post will be up by this weekend!
Wednesday started out well with Starbucks and Nutella bagels. The sun was shining and all was well in the world- or our little nook of it.
This morning was Casper's morning.
We started out once again with Watering Hole rituals but it was a lot more challenging than on Monday. He had gotten into a pattern of circling a lot before finally coming in to Say Hello to me, but once I tried to take him anywhere, he left again. Part of the reason he would stay out for such long periods of time was due to my energy, which was high and driving him onwards even though we wanted him to slow down and stop.
This went on for a while, with several attempts at interrupting the pattern. I even sat down for most of it, all in attempt to bring my energy down.
I think the good news is though is that I was aware that I was doing it. I was aware that my energy was high, I could feel it. I just couldn't bring it down. That is an improvement from last summer where I couldn't even get it up at all. (I think. Emily is probably going to chew me out for getting it wrong. jkk. :P)
Finally we were able to move onto the next Ritual: Leading from Behind. In Zone 4/5, I was able to drive Casper at a walk and trot, change directions, and do a figure 8. It was like dancing- a beginner's class for Broadway dancing.
Mind blowing stuff. I mean MIND BLOWING!! That is Level 4 Liberty right there!!
After that I haltered Casper again (I learned that I was doing it wrong. I wasn't haltering with a hug.) Emily played with him a bit while I went to go get the helmet and clip-on reins.
When I had returned, she was playing the Circling game and found a pretty major hole in our game- he would not disengage. At all! At one point his feet were moving and working harder than his mind. At one point he even slipped and fell down! But because of that it got him thinking a bit more, so that he could prevent it happening again.
That was added to our homework list. No circling, then 10 laps of just walk straight. For a long time. LONG TIME.
Then I hopped on and we did some turning and changing of directions, using the steps before the reins very carefully. Once we were both comfortable with each other at a walk, I asked him to trot and something very interesting happened. He began to 'amble'. You know, a special gait- like a gaited horse. And you know what? It was SO smooth. I mean...amazingly smooth.
I always wondered if he had some Hackney Pony in him- he looks kind of like them- but Emily says that his gait looks more like a Paso Fino's gait!! Hmmm... how interesting.
That was the first time he had done it for longer than a couple moments, and also he hadn't done it while I was riding before. I really enjoyed it so that is definitley something we are going to be trying to do more of in the future.
Then Emily suggested something that I never would have thought of to be able to do this summer- even though I mentioned it as a hope for this summer last year- and that was to canter Casper bareback.
This also meant being able to stay on as Casper went into a faster trot before transitioning into a canter. The first few tries didn't work. Each time he would get to the brink, just there, JUST there, but I would usually pull him to a stop because I had lost my seat.
Then, by some miracle, we made it through that barrier and bam!
We were cantering bareback for half way round the round pen.
It was amazing. It was such a lovely smooth canter. I didn't even lose my seat at all.
Just bloody amazing!!
After that we rewarded Casper with eating some lovely grain before returning to the field. So for a delicious morning:
- Zone 4/5 driving at liberty, at the walk and trot, changing direction and figure 8's!
- Cantering bareback!!
That photo above really applies!! ^^
I am so sore.
This afternoon was Sharlie's day! I was able to lead her to the round pen with just the Savvy String which was so cool! She only tried to eat 3 times, when usually its 5, 6, 7 times in the same walk.
She was already interested in me so that she followed me around a bit, without having to play Taking Territory (or at least the sending part)
Emily encouraged me to do my own thing. So I tried doing some Zone 4/5 driving. I was able to make it to Zone 4 before Sharlie got unconfident. We also did a lot of draw- so Sharlie will almost always trot to me now when I draw her.
So the next step is cantering at the draw! That is going to take a lot of work, and maybe a slightly larger area. Perhaps the pasture- on a down hill...on a really good day. :)
Emily played with Sharlie at liberty some more and worked on maintaining direction.
Then we moved online.
Online we played some more with Sharlie lying down. We got SO close. She got down on her knees. Hopefully tomorrow she will go the rest of the way.
Something I wanted to learn was sideways towards me, but wasn't nessecarily set on working on it today. Emily said that it would be alright to do it with her. At first it seemed to confuse Sharlie a lot, and then she just... got it. At first it was one little leg cross over...then a bigger one. Then it was two steps, three steps... even away from the fence!
Ending on a good note on the ground, we moved onto riding. We actually stayed in the round pen this time but I wasn't as nervous as yesterday. Emily said that it was because she gave me other things to worry about- that included Carrot Stick riding and faster/slower gaits. I think it was also partly thanks to yesterday and sort of taking a small hammer and beginning to chip away at the brick wall barrier. And yesterday made a dent!
We mostly worked on staying on the dirt path that is along the edge of the round pen- pretty close to the fence, but not too close. (good way to desensitive me) and a million transitions. That was walk, trot, stop, back up, etc..., but also slow walk-fast walk-slow trot-fast trot.
When I asked Sharles to go into a faster trot, she got a really nasty look on her fact and would toss her head and balk a bit, so we had to work on one-rein stopping her each time she did it. Crazy thing was I didn't feel unsafe.
Sometimes I wonder if even though she was doing that, and I didn't feel unsafe or the need to get off, whether I am overconfident...they say listen to your instincts but what if your instincts are overshadowed by your joy at riding again?
I am not sure that even applies to me. I plan to talk to Emily about it tomorrow morning, because it may not even apply to me. It may not even be REAL!
We ended on a really nice note- some nice smooth trotting in the round pen before I dismounted and we played at liberty with Emily taking photos.
Aren't they just GORGEOUS?? I hope Casper will make pretty faces tomorrow for her too! I'm not photogenic at all either so kudos to her for making me look decent. And yes, that really is the color of my hair! Fantastic, isn't it??
Also, I forgot to mention that Emily said that Sharlie needs her teeth floated because she is having trouble eating. THAT is why it is good to have people who know more about horses than you do out sometimes- they notice that stuff. I bet you no one else at the stables would have noticed, or mentioned anything to me!
Also found out that Casper's halter is an Arabian size, not Pony. We need to buy him a pony size!
So today was our second and last full day. It was so much fun and we made a lot of progress.
Despite our best wishes, we did not make it out to the barn at 7:30 am.
This saying may seem pointless now, but read on and you will understand.
Tuesday morning was Sharlietta's morning. I was excited to see how she would do with the Watering Hole Rituals, especially when it came to Taking Territory with grain involved. Kara was also coming to spend the day to watch and hang out with us. Fun stuff.
What became evident pretty quickly was that Sharlie was definitley an introvert- and a Left Brain one.
When it came to just playing with the grass, she was pretty good about it. It was once we brought out a bucket of grain- and then later two buckets- that Sharlie really started doing as little as possible to be able to eat the grain. After finding a good stopping place for that morning, Emily pointed out something very important to our little herd.
Sharlie has a lot of respect for me, but not enough rapport. She would rather be with the feed than with me- the feed is the better deal for her at the moment. We want her to be more like Casper in the sense of she prefers my company and being with me than to being with the food.
Once done with the WHR, we did some work to do some small range circles with Sharlie at Liberty. After working with it a bit online and practicing keeping my 'sends' small, we were able to do an entire circle at close range circle (still with disengages.)
Next was teaching her to lie down. Emily took over for this one for the most part because it is physically hard. I was having a lot of trouble just holding onto Sharlie's leg whenever we had tried in the past, as well as keeping my own balance. Sharlie did amazing and Emily is pretty confident that she will lie down by Thursday. The most important thing to remember is to never release on a brace.
Then came riding! Originally we planned on riding with a saddle but then changed our minds.
Now I don't think I ever posted about it on the blog, but back in the summer of 2010 shortly after returning from camp in Atlanta, I was riding Sharlie in the round pen at the trot and my foot got caught in the railings. It was just sort of a freak accident- Sharlie just came in too close on the turn and then BAM. It only took a few seconds, but I was seriously shaken and had a huge fear of it happening again.
So when Emily asked me to drop the reins while trotting and just do a passanger lesson, it was rather frightening at first. It seemed like Sharlie was getting intentionally close to the fence, just to scare me. That of course was not true.
I don't even remember when exactly but at some point I found that I had tears in my eyes. I was so so scared of getting my foot caught again that I was crying. Also I was crying because I was very dissapointed in myself at how little I trusted Sharlie.
Emily pulled me in and we talked about it and discussed comfort zones and phobias. I wasn't afraid of Sharlie running me into the fence- I was afraid that any horse would run me into the fence. It was just much more extreme on Sharlie because it actually happened on her and actually happenned in that round pen.
However once I can get past that fear, the reward will be spectacular. (Does the photo above make sense now?)
Looking for a change of scenery, we moved this party to the arena where surprisingly Emily said I looked a lot more confident and relaxed. Hmmm... Also, one of the main reasons why we were trotting in the round pen in the first place was for me to practice my fluidity. Once out in the arena, I had it down pretty well.
By this time it was already noon and everybody was hungry. After packing both horse & tools away, we went up to Ooltewah/Collegedale to eat at a new cafe that opened up- the 4 Corners Cafe. After a delicious lunch, we decided to go driving and explore the countryside that is Tennessee and Georgia. We drove...a lot.
We made our way south into Georgia and headed eastwards (Varnell area?) with one rule. Don't look at a map. (Something hard to do when 2 out of 3 people have iPhones)
At one point we stopped at a gas station and Emily bought the three of us a lottery ticket each. Both Emily and Kara won 30 dollars each! And I? ...nothing. :(
We were probably driving around the Georgian countryside (All roads lead to Georgia around here) for 2 hours before heading back to stop by Earthfare to spend EMILY AND KARA'S winnings. (As they pointed out throughout the day, they weren't mine. *rolls eyes and laughs* )
We got some cheesecake and salmon before returning home and chilling. We looked at Emily's photos from her Fast Track and other things such as when a friend's foal was being born.
After a delicious dinner (that was for you, Mom) we took Kara home where Emily got to meet Kara's horses and see just what an awesome place it is out there. (I concur)
Then we headed home and pretty much hit the sack. *yawn* It was tiring!
Emily Larramore came up to Chattanooga to spend 4 days at my house while we worked with the horses. She arrived Monday afternoon at about 2 o'clock. It was a bit later than expected because Birmingham had some pretty severe storms.
Photo Credit Emily Larramore
First thing we did was go to Tractor supply. Casper had taken quite a beating from another gelding the evening before when there was some temporary rearranging of the pastures so I wanted to go and try to find something to put on his bites. (Luckily, the gelding was moved back and Sharlie was returned to her rightful place of being Casper's high maintenance wife.)
Emily ended up buying some vetrycin, which Emily claims to be some sort of miracle healing water. (Its blue too!) It isn't just for horses- you can use it on yourself too. I had cut my finger yesterday and I sprayed some on and it doesn't look as red or ugly as it should. Also, according to Emily, if you have a sore throat you can use it for that too. It just tastes like pool water. (So if it doesn't work, don't blame me. Blame Em!)
After a quick stop home to change into farm-appropraite clothes, we headed off to the stables! We decided to focus on Casper today because I had just had the lesson with Robin on Friday and hadn't played with him in several days.
One of the main things we were going to be doing this week was Carolyn Resnick's Water Hole Rituals- with a twist.
We started out with Sharing Territory.
Then we continued onto Saying Hello, then followed by Taking Territory with both the grass and a bucket of grain.
The surprise of the evening was learning that Casper actually preferred to be with me than with the grain. It was actually a very encouraging thought, to know that.
Also, we learned that Casper's Friendly Game is a bit broken, especially when it comes to the Carrot Stick. Another thing was that I can have a lot of energy, I just have no idea how to control it. Especially when I have a Carrot Stick with me. I think it almost channels it more- which is not always a good thing as we found out on Monday evening!
Something to always remember:
Your Friendly Game should be equal to your driving phases.