Thursday, December 31, 2009

More with Iona

I managed to have a couple of sessions with Iona this week. On Monday I brought her in and groomed her tail (big job, long overdue) while Petra trimmed her horses' feet nearby. Thought I might as well do it while we had somebody to chat to. I wanted to work on building up our trot and canter laps. I've been using the roundpen to do this recently, but I don't want to get dependent on it, so we went to the playground, and it went okay. Sure, she made her usual grumpy faces and said "Make me!" a good few times, but then we got it going and I was pretty happy with things. No running off, so that was good.

I've been watching the new Levels DVDs and one thing I got reminded of was to do things in a flow. So on our way to try Sideways Toward we did some Rolling Rock and sideways. I tried doing this over a short pole, then asking for Toward, but I guess I asked wrong, cause she kept going away. Then I remembered the corner, and that worked again. So I think we need a bit more practise in the corner, then we might be able to do it somewhere else.

We finished up playing with Liberty trailer loading, and she did it really easily.

Today we started off with Figure 8s. We warmed up with a few circles then I tried to flow into the Figure 8. The pattern aspect was okay, but she was breaking gait a lot. After lots of tries we got maintainting gait at trot, and then a few canter strides each way. This wasn't easy. I tried to be easy going about it, and sometimes if she didn't canter I just kept circling her until she did, then we would change. Next time I work on the Weave pattern, I think I will try mixing it up with Figure 8 like Pat does on the new DVD and see if the variety helps.

We then went to play the 7 Games On Line in the trailer. Hmmmm. I couldn't figure out how to play the Circle game. Otherwise it went well, and she also did great when I put the rope through a ring and simulated being tied.

I decided to ride in the JW bit again, but this time I wanted to take some time putting the bridle on, so I sat on a pedestal and played with lowering her head, etc. She wasn't very willing. It wasn't just the bit, she was like that all day, and I think it's the herdbound thing again. They didn't stick around the yard area for very long, and she kept looking out to them. I obviously didn't find the right way to get and keep her attention, and I felt like I was dragging her from A to B all day. I really need to fix this!! Eventually she did lower her head and allowed me to put the bridle on. I would say there was still an element of tolerating it, though, so I'm feeling a bit bad that I didn't really take the time to do a better job. Darn!

We moved on to Follow the Rail. She did great for about 1 lap of the playground, and we were getting some nice soft backup here had there, then shd got really interested in the herd, who were way out by the grazing cell gate. So she decided that bucking and kicking up was better than trotting. This went on for awhile, and once I finally got her going agan it was time for me to stop and do some chores. So we went to X and called it a day.

Seems like I need to work on Rapport, Respect and Impulsion - no doubt in that order. How can I be more sensitive to her and cause her to enjoy spending time with me, even when this means being away from the herd? How can I build respect without picking a fight? If I can figure that out then the impulsion will probably come.


  1. got your work cut out for you there Kris. Being a good leader to an already strong minded horse is difficult, have fun figuring it all out.

    How's your weather and ground doing, is the ground very hard? Was this affecting Iona's ability to do more in a higher gait?

    Thinking of you here...we had 14" of snow before xmas and it's snowed an inch every night since then. Cannot walk around my playfield as the snow is above my knees now. I'm thinking of trying to find a second hand pair of ski's and boots to try some Skijoring with Tara....for now though my only plan is to do more bridling with Solly to help counter act the left over opposition reflex he still has...although it's much better than when I first got him.

    Happy New Year to you and Mark, horses, dog, cows and family...see you soon XXXXXXXX

  2. Hi Shelley -

    Yep, it's always interesting with Iona. I know that there is some sort of breakthrough for my attitude still ahead. It's such a balancing act, finding soft and light, with her, when she can be quite hard and heavy with others. Do I mirror this, or offer lightness? That's one way to frame it. I remember Dave Stuart telling me often "Never pick a fight with a mule." However he did encourage me to outpersist her, without getting mean or mad, and I notice that she is less persistant than she used to be, so I guess that is progress!

    Not every session is like that, but I am starting to see that they are better when the herd (or Bruce) is nearby, and not so good when they are distant. This may have got worse since we have another mare in the herd..... However, it's all about being worthy of her attention. Hmmmm.

    It'll keep me busy for another year, I'm sure.