Saturday, June 30, 2007

Desensitizing day

OK, so I'm getting lazy with my reports. I rode Lakota twice this week, not for very long each time because it was so darned hot. There was nothing very exciting to report either day. More of the same old same old, though overall we're connecting better and better. She jumped the jump decently once each way (and stopped to walk over it 2-3 times each way), her free-lunging is perfect now. She is very soft and responsive, decent circles, not terribly egg-shaped but still not perfect. We haven't done much cantering due first to footing, and now the heat.

Friday I had another lesson. Karen decided to put me on her rescued (bad stifles/hocks) Olympic level dressage horse, Drake. (All her horses are rescues, btw). Drake is EXTREMELY well trained, very, very light and responsive, but not forgiving at all. He does exactly what you tell him to do, so it is very, very easy to see where you are screwing up ;-)

Poor Drake! But I did get it mostly sorted out. We were zigging and zagging for a bit, and I got a lot of really nice sidepasses as my right arm kept floating out of position. I found myself correcting *him* rather than myself when we got messed up. (duh). I found all it takes is lengthening of one leg or another to influence our circle (not to mention those floating hands), and if my core and hips were not completely open, we did not have a free walk at all, and were very sluggish. Also, my saddle isn't really all that conducive to dressage. It is too bulky under the leg for me to have decent contact. I actually rode better dropping my stirrups.

The weather finally broke, and today is spectacular! I took Lakota out for some desensitzation work today. I've been having so much fun riding her, I've really slacked off on the basic groundwork (bad human).

First I brought her out, and "stuff" was going on. It's Saturday, so Vic had his van parked on the driveway to her paddock, so we had to squeeze past that. She sniffed it a few times rather than spooking, then we walzed on past. Vic was outside raking up last year's bark from the woodpile, she was slightly worried about the noise, so we C/T through that. The Ranger was out, that is new, so we had to sniff that, then Vic started it up and moved it, and we sniffed it again (well, she sniffed it, not me), and she got more treats. Remember that we have almost exclusively only worked while nobody at all was around, just her and I, so it is very quiet here.

Inside the roundpen, we walked over a big, long tarp ....

Then we played with a kite. Both were total non-events

Then we played with this pipe. It is very scary, because its long, corrugated, you can't control its movement, it zips and flings, its hollow and echos, and its corrugated, so it makes this awful zzzzippp echoey noise when it moves. All the horses are freaked out by it at first (well, except Whinney, nothing scares her). These photos are the progression....

Here I'm cracking up, because she discovered its really cool to "zip" her lips along the corrutation (is that a word)? She was playing it like a harmonica -- I thought Mandy got it on video but I guess she didn't.

After that, I worked with the spray bottle. That didn't go over quite as well, so we quit on a good note there. She did want to keep coming back and targeting it, and I progressed to the point that I could hold the bottle up high and spray it over her back, as long as none of the spray actually touched her body. So we left it there. I'm not sure if we'll ever get over our sprayer issues. By now the battery in the camera was dead.

Next, I took the tarp and strung it up over the jump standards, to make a big, hanging thing. Well, in the process I broke the base of one of the standards. I sent Mandy to get my screw gun, but I don't have the right size end for it. Just then, a dump truck pulls up the driveway (Lakota is bug-eyed, so she got C/T for facing it and not moving her feet). He turned around, backed right up next to the roundpen (with the beep-beep-beep sound of a backing up dump truck), more rapid-fire treats for staying put and facing what was scary. The whole time I was talking to her, telling her what would happen next (he's going to dump the wood, its going to make a big noise, etc.), so as the dump is going up, she starts offering to drop her head, more rapid-fire clicking, then the logs start rolling out, making a heck of a racket. She's still offering to drop her head, and more and more C/T for not moving her feet.

Then Mandy notices that when he pulled forward, he's got the electrical wire caught on the dump body (ack!) Good thing she noticed! So they move the truck around and get that sorted out, and Lakota and I are still watching, clicking for head-down. Steve leaves (Lakota is fascinated watching the truck go down the driveway), then Vic comes over and fixes my jump standard. As he's fiddling with that, Lakota suddenly decides she has had enough standing still, she's got to let some of this scary crap out. So she trots off a little, bounces back and forth a few times, and I just felt that she needed to let off steam, but she was trying so hard to be good. So I free-lunged her a little bit, let her let off some steam. Since the jump standard was in pieces, the pole was laying on the ground. She LEAPED the pole on the ground clearing it by like 2 feet, lol! So obviously she CAN jump! She was just being lazy. So we will work on that. After 2 laps each way, Lakota had sufficiently burnt off that bit of stress, and we went back to targeting scary stuff. I put the tarp up over the standards (after it was fixed), and had her sticking her head under it. We didn't get to walk through, as I really felt she had enough for one day.

Then we went out for a hand-graze, as soon as we walked out the gate, the tarp/standards fell over with a thump. She did spook at that! (then looked at me for a treat. Sorry, Lakota, no treats for spooking). Then she had some grass for about 15 or 20 minutes, and we called it a day.


Brie said...

Sounds like so much fun! What a great day. :-)

That's so funny that Lakota was playing the pipe like a harmonica...

Rhonda Thurman said...

Thank you for enjoyable ride. You make your horses family, too.
Thanks again!

Rhonda Thurman