Friday, June 26, 2009

The Mask Task

Ducky and Dakota have been getting their pink noses sunburnt recently, and they aren't too keen on the old sunscreen. "It tastes awful!" So Linda popped over last night with some very stylish masks for them.

This morning I brought the Fells in for their feed, and took "The Boy's" food out to the track. Hmmm. Dakota had lost his mask. Wonder if it was an accident?

I spent some time grooming Bruce in the new shady hangout. He trimmed the big elm tree for me a bit. A job that surely needs doing! We had a nice time just chatting about life and discussing whether it's okay or possibly disrespectful for a pony to put his head down to eat weeds when someone is grooming his mane.

Got Iona and groomed her, too. Tomorrow is hoof trimming day, and as I was picking out her feet I was thinking about this. I'm not really happy with the way the ponies behave when they get their feet trimmed. It's not that bad, and the trimmer says it's fine, but I feel that rather than being progressively better it's just messy. They play around and take their feet back when they feel like it, and because it's not that bad we just let it go. So, tomorrow I hope I will feel like I can talk to John and Sara (the trimmers) about this and maybe we can work on it a little. I know it's not up to them to train my horses, on the other hand, I'm not sure whether anyone other than them can get them ponies to be more respectful toward them. They seem like great people, but like all busy professionals I find it a little hard to talk to them about anything that's out of the ordinary. So I guess this will be a test of my people skills.

Iona and I then worked on some sideways tasks. She's really good at these, always has been, really. The only thing I am struggling with is sideways towards. No doubt we will have a breakthrough pretty soon! I've also been wanting to work on circling on the 45' line, but once again it was just too hot. If I didn't have the energy to stand there and send her, I could hardly expect her to run around! As I've been working through the tasks on the self assessment checklists I realise that I've probably been looking for way too much "perfection" as opposed to excellence. It's a hard call to make, sometimes, but when I look at the standard that Pat is finding acceptable on the audition videos that people post on YouTube, then I think I can judge things a little better. So I've been trying to be more progressive. It doesn't matter if it takes us a few tries, (or more often for me to have a few tries at setting things up better!) I'm beginning to see that often we should just move on.

I mounted up with the bareback pad, and we headed out to look for Dakota's mask. I thought we'd start by riding the rail of the grazing cell they were in last night. Just over halfway around we found it. Next problem: Iona was pretty scared of it! And since my plan was to pick it up with my carrot stick without getting off we had some work to do.

We circled it until she could put her foot on it - both directions. Then we sidepassed over it both ways, too, just for good measure. I then realised that it was fine on the ground, but that picking it up was probably still going to be a bit dangerous. I prodded it with my carrot stick and it moved!!!! Okay, so ,,, pushing position and let's work on our independent seat. We played the spooky game for 5 or 10 minutes with the mask on the ground. Next step, do it all again with the mask in the air, dangling from the end of the stick. Lot's of fun!

Now I just had to get the thing closer to her, and she's never great with things like this in zone 2.
The best thing was that I knew I had all the time I needed to take. And the time I've spent with the umbrella and the flag recently really paid off, too. I was pleased that getting it up onto her withers and tucking it into the handle of the pad was pretty easy. I was very careful to keep watching her to make sure she hadn't checked out into LaLa Land, though. It's not easy to see her expression from her back, sometimes, with all that hair. So we did it, and had a little victory lap on the way back with our prize! Hooray!


  1. Wow Kris, great reading, loved all the friendly you did with the mask and how you managed to eventually pick it up. Great stuff, very impressed.

    Love the mask piccie too, they look like something from a 'Dr Who' series! lol.


  2. Kris--what a great description of all the little steps it takes to make your horse confident before you tackle the task at hand. This is a super example of keeping principles before purpose.

    Sometimes this is the hardest thing for we humans to accomplish--putting the relationships with our horses above what we'er trying to get done. Congratulations!


  3. Hi Jan!
    Fancy meeting you here! Thanks for the encouragement and I'm glad you enjoyed reading about it.

    I find sessions like this a lot of fun. I need a purpose, too!