Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is my track on track?

Although I let the ponies into their grazing cell last night, by this morning they had gone back onto the track. That's a first, so I'm wondering why. Are they not finding enough to eat in the cell, or did something just attract them back onto the track?

I also noticed that they have been moving a lot on the track today. Maybe something yummy is just popping up. Or maybe they're making up for yesterday, as it was very hot, and I'm not sure they ate as much as usual. I'll need to have a good look at things tomorrow, and see what's what. The whole plan of 10 acre grazing cells changed monthly is totally arbitrary. It will be interesting to see whether I need to adjust that up or down to keep them fed but not fat.

I haven't managed to extend the track any further this week. I can't really take that forward until some more posts are in at corners and turns on the final stretch. I am well over halfway around, though!

In spite of the heat, I managed to spend some time yesterday with Bruce in the arena. I tried to work on some very accurate hind and forequarter yeilds, using the porcupine game. However, he wasn't concentrating, and just couldn't keep those back feet planted during FQ yields. I think it probably does have to do with the way I'm using treats as rewards, but I thought I had all that worked out a couple of months ago. Obviously not! It's tricky to balance his need for motivation with his need to actually listen to me. I guess that's always been our "issue". I remember when I first had him, feeling so frustrated because although I could ride him he just refused to be steered. Somehow, this feels like a version of the same thing. He enjoys being together and doing stuff, but doesn't really accept leadership or direction easily. He's a smart boy, and I know that nothing he does means nothing, and everything means something!

I was thinking recently about when I first met Bruce. He was in a pen at the annual Fell pony auction, and I remember there being some sort of comment as I went in to look at him, like "He won't kick you, but he might step on your feet," as he tried to do just that. When I got him home he was stepping on everybody's feet - the vet, the farrier, the dentist... Now, he is obsessed with putting his feet on things. Not just pedestals, which he loves, but things that most horses would never consider attempting. Logs and poles that threaten to roll or tip are just an interesting challenge for him. The other day my friend Sara was leading him. We had quite a way to go, and I guess he got bored. He stopped dead, and when she turned to see why, he had one foot planted on an old cow chip. Look! I found this! Can I get a treat for doing this?

Today I played with Iona. She seemed to be having a bit of an RBI day, where there was a whole lot of spaced out licking when she got a treat for something. Don't know where that came from. She wouldn't follow me if I pushed the ball around, especially if I bounced it. But she was willing to push it with her nose. And last time she was okay with me putting it on her back. It felt more like "Can't be bothered," than anything. However, she gave me some lovely FQ yields, so at least it's not just ME! I rode just a little (bareback) and then we went to try to put back feet on a low pedestal. This was in a nice shady place, so we enjoyed that, as it was pretty hot this morning. I can get her to leave her back feet on if she walks across with her front feet first, but we didn't manage backing on. I will let her build up her confidence first, and then I think we will be able to do that, too. Neither one of us wanted to leave that shade after we finished, so we just hung out for awhile, and it was great to spend time together like that.

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