Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Foto Friday!

My friend caught this awesome pic of the boys having a nap this week. How cute!

Having a good roll!

I was getting concerned about how squishy Rio's field was getting.

That was nothing after a day of rain!

These are Rio's pastures.

Stable training last night. This was after less than an hour. With company opposite.

Decided to bank it up as he never comes in.

Went back down tonight (yes, just a small one so he doesn't make a total mess tonight!)

Dinner bribery to help him settle. Had to make the big decision of rug or no rug, and settled on a waffle cooler as he was soggy and has an open window above his head. Oh I hope he's ok.

Everyone else I know worries about their horse being out. I worry about Rio being in! Hopefully with Miss Bella for company he won't be too unsettled. He was much more co-operative this evening after clinging to the door and being very bargy in the stable last night. He moved back when asked with much more ease today, and I was happy to stand in the stable with him without worry of being squished! I even picked up all four feet in there, and put the waffle rug on. Small steps. OH and he walked straight out of the field - compliment to the horrendous state of it bless him. He was cheeky half way up to the barn when he realised he'd made it far too easy, but I told him off, refused to back down, and he came quietly after that. 

So much for getting back in the saddle tomorrow - now I have to worry about him being stabled whilst I'm away which was not part of the plan, and it's meant to continue raining tomorrow! 

Ride/play safe, and I hope you guys have usable paddocks!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Bella's Breakthrough

It's been a bit of a mixed bag this week. A bit of good, a bit of bad, and a bit of exhaustion. Since Monday night, I've been down every evening and brought Rio up to the barn (except Friday - had a MacMillan Night In and raised a ton of cash with a lot of lovely ladies!) This has been with varying results. 

I have felt like screaming at times, and have instead found myself talking out loud asking questions I know I am never going to get the answer to but it helps me to calm down again. Frustratingly, the more we do this, the further away he seems to be getting from the second gate when he plants himself. We have now tried walking through when the power is completely off across the yard (big storm caused big powercut!) and still with the same results. 

Don't get me wrong, once I have committed to bringing him out of the field, that's it, and however long it may take, it will happen. I was sort of hoping for some change by now though, and that he might have realised that we ARE coming out of the field when I'm suggesting it! A friend is coming up this morning to try the same exercise for me, so I can establish if it's behavioural in general, or just with me. I will be a little sad if he walks straight on out, but we will see. 

All of this boils down to insignificance in the field. I love just being in there with him. We are working on personal space (trying to!) as he's very good at standing with his nose on your shoulder whilst you poo pick. He's actually had the barrow over a couple of times this week too. So now I'm wondering if I have done right by him putting him in his own paddock. Should he be in a herd situation? Would that be better with one other pony or maybe two? Who could I put him in with? Is he bored? Maybe he doesn't want to come up to the yard because I've been keeping it so simple for myself that he feels it's not worth the effort of leaving his field? (Do horses even have a trail of thought that long?

So last night whilst Hubster caught up on the football final, I decided to head back down to the yard. My friend picked up a new neddie yesterday, a very green, malnourished TB mare of 9 years. She's very sweet, and appears not to be a nervous type, although she did ask some questions when we took her off the lovely long grass to put her back in her stall! Got to love a bit of sass! Anyway, she gave me a brainwave, as she didn't want to load but was happy to walk straight up the ramp without hesitation with a feed bucket in the equation. Same goes for persuading her that the barn was the place to be. 

Rio loves feed. He no longer has breakfast, as to be honest, even with the grass munched down, the new shoots are very rich, he certainly needs no extra energy from his sugarbeet, and it seemed a bit of a waste. Sweep the cobwebs off the feed bins, Laura. Handful of chaff, a dozen pony nuts, and a sprinkling of garlic, and let's do this. 

He sees me walking down, and clearly clocks his favourite blue feed bucket. I'm not going to make this game too easy for him, so the feed bucket is left within a couple of feet of "scary gate". I walk down to him, get his headcollar on, and he stands there. I walk across in front of him to start the wiggly worm game, and he follows after one go. Phew. We get half way across his second paddock when he starts to slow. We're not stopping tonight Rio! I walk across in front of him again out into the field, before doing a shallow loop back to the fence line. I think he's spotted the bucket again. I'm focussed on the bucket, and walking with intent, we make it! In one sweeping motion, I grab the bucket and keep walking. It's amazing how insignificant a gate is when there's feed involved. Rio doesn't care about the gate any more, and we're off through the main metal gate, he's having a little prance, trying to get the better of me and my bucket. I push him back half a dozen times, and what do you know? He walks up just behind me, doesn't spook, scare or question at "scary spot #2", and has a beautiful forward walk coming up. We reach the barn, where he gets a big scratch on his neck, and to enjoy the little feed. Well done Rio. There's a light at the end of this tunnel - I just need to find out how far away that is!

Honestly - I know that this is not a permanent fix. If I can make it into a bit of a game for him in the meantime though, I'm hoping if he's bored it will get him interested, and if it's something else, well I'll just have to re-assess. On Wednesday I plan to pop him in with a friend's horse for an hour or so - a pony play date! If I can get him out of his own field of course! 

It's not even like he has no friends around him - he has one on two of the four sides of his field, and can see at least 4 others further over. I'm quite sure that he plays with his TB neighbour over the fence and that they groom as this is all that's left of this bit of his mane! Or perhaps, he's just happy playing in his field like I am - and maybe that's my fault. It's the only place we play at Liberty, and perhaps I'm wrong to do that as it's his place of rest? So many questions... 

Ride/play safe x

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

One step forward three steps sideways

This is how terrifying the scary gate is. Does it look terrifying? 
We had what I took as a positive evening yesterday, Rio appears to be taking objection to leaving his field at the moment, but once I got him out of the first gate, last night he walked through here and stood nicely when I closed it. Today, we disagreed about leaving the field, and then spent 10 minutes around this gate trying to establish that the grass ghouls had left the area. 
Last night, I was very proud of myself and how calm I stayed when he was being a bit silly and playing up. Tonight, I had to remind myself to breathe, and that we aren't raising voices any more. I had to opt for keeping his feet moving and having him move laterally in the hope that it would generate him some confidence in what I was asking of him. 
I resorted myself to just making it out of the field, we had a little wander and Rio had some grass to settle. I decided that we would head up to the barn after all, and we had another discussion at scary point number 2 by the bath tubs. After a lot of walking in wiggly snaking lines, and some more lateral work, we made it past. 
I have simple aims with each evening at the moment:
  1. Getting out of the field, hopefully with less disagreements as time goes on
  2. Tying up at the barn, to get Rio used to standing quietly on his own, and getting accustomed to his surroundings in his own time
  3. Picking feet without argument, and remaining relaxed (both of us!)
  4. Having Rio stand at the mounting ramp with me standing next to him on it, and leaning on/over him
I hope that this little routine will gradually build my confidence and his trust, because although we have issues at the beginning of the evening, he is more than happy to play at liberty when we get back to the field! If only he trusted me as much out of the field as he does in it. He's so funny bless him. Just need to get working on my parelli games so that he knows where my personal space is, and then hopefully it will help us get further together. With being off on holiday in 8 days, I could really do with him being less stubborn coming out of the field as friends are going to be taking care of him!!

Just in case you hadn't noticed, I have a bit of a thing for the skies at the moment. Aren't they just lovely? They are all from the last few days, the last one was this evening, and I was expecting a storm to break out any minute, but the skies were blue 20 minutes later!

Ride/play safe x

Saturday, 17 May 2014

And my education begins

I'm going to give Parelli a go. It makes sense to continue to work on our relationship on the ground whilst I'm nervous of hopping into the saddle, so I'm going to take it as a positive thing, and hopefully work on improving our trust in each other. From now on I will try to focus on the positives, and we can work on the rest, so here goes.

Achievements of today:
  • Walking out of the second electric gate without much fuss (we won't mention the first for now!)
  • Facing down a stray green balloon
  • Not completely trampling me at the sight of the two terrifying geese, although it was a bit hairy for a second!
  • Walking past said geese when they had flown off and regrouped further up without any fuss at all
  • Walking in and out of the arena gate three times with only one hesitation
  • Standing quietly by the mounting ramp, even with me above him, and leaning on him for a moment
Ride / play safe x

Friday, 16 May 2014

Confidence Crisis

 Looking like butter wouldn't melt after ignoring me for three days when I was pottering in his field!

What with not riding due to waiting for my foot tattoo to heal, and Rio being a bit of a pillock on the yard at the moment, my confidence has taken a knock. I'm perfectly happy to work in hand with him but just getting into the saddle feels like an accomplishment! I took him out around the field last week on our own, and he spooked and attempted to rear up a couple of times in the scary corner. I walked him off, and we did a loop and did it from the other direction with the same result, but I didn't get off, I didn't fall off, and I resolved to keep calm and get him back to the yard. That actually made me feel a bit better, knowing I could stay on, but on Friday I decided to walk him out in hand on the lunge line to get him used to being in the scary corner. Clever old me forgot to grab gloves!

I'm not kidding when I say I would rather have another foot tattoo (because that barely hurt!) than experience rope burn EVER again. However, it has healed fairly quickly, and I was back in the saddle last night for what I hoped would be a mooch around the village with Sarah and Franks. There were no major dramas, we made it past spook corner without spooking, through the overgrown exit of the field, and around the roads, past the barking dog behind the fence, and on the way home he decided to get an absolute stomp on and get a bit jiggly. I did my best to relax, and we made it home in one piece, so now I just have to stick with it and try and make hacking normal again. 

I'm off on holiday in a couple of weeks, so Sarah will be taking care of Rio and he'll be having a bit of a boot camp. Fingers crossed, having a more confident rider will give him a boost and a helping hand too, and I think she's looking forward to having a play with him! He's certainly getting a bit of Welshy character about him, and we're working on keeping the bulshiness at bay. I still love playing in the field with him, when he's in the mood for it, we have such fun :)

Ride safe x

Friday, 2 May 2014

Building blocks

Rio is a people person, which is very helpful. However, whilst he is brave on the outside, and the obvious "scaries" don't seem to phase him, he does revert to being a baby in the most peculiar situations. He was so brave at the play day on Sunday, and then twice this week he has planted himself before we get to the second electric gate again. I wish I knew what caused it, because he doesn't fuss (at the moment!) at the first electric gate. 
We had been playing the Friendly Game for a bit, I've had to improvise by using my schooling whip and utilising my lead rope - today and last night I opted for my lunge line. He's very steady when playing Friendly, and last night I was swinging the lunge line around both of our heads and he was standing very quietly. As soon as we went to walk out of the field however, he would just stop. I ended up having to send him out on a circle a couple of times then driving him sideways to bring him closer to the gate, before practically dragging him the last three steps through. Once through, he's absolutely fine. Go figure. 
We have plenty to work on, but I'm confident we will get there in the end. He's forever for me, so if it takes years to build our perfect bond, it doesn't matter. 
Rio had his second shoeing today, and was being a bit cheeky for the farrier. He started by moving his foot back a minimal amount, which started to develop to trying to take his foot back completely. With a well timed reaction, he was put back in his place, and didn't try it again. We saw a baby fox cub when walking back down to the field! SO CUTE! Wish I could have taken a photo but when it spotted Rio and me, it was off into the hedge. 

Ride safe x