Thursday, 28 May 2015

Then and now!

I've finally gotten around to having a look at comparing my photos of Rio from last April to this year's shoot! He's grown up so much in 12 months, and I couldn't be prouder of where we have come from and where we are going.

I've been feeling very tired recently, so there have been some questions raised over the lack of riding I've been doing - I've taken preference to developing our groundwork and riding for a shorter length of time. I'm sure that some people think this is crazy, but I'm happy. Let's face it - Rio is an opinionated young man when he wants to be, and he's a half ton of horse to take on when he's got his mind set on something. If taking a step back is what I need to do at the moment, then so be it, and we will work on getting to know each other better! 

The pole clinic went well. Speaking of attitude, Rio took some of that with him that day. After going to move him into a field away from the arena and him going to trot off around me, we took to playing on the ground. 40 minutes later, with lots of backing up, driving, playing with obstacles, and getting control of his feet over a pole on the ground, and we mounted up with a renewed understanding. 

The morning session resulted in a light, forward going and responsive ride. The fear of the end of the arena was almost gone, until his brain was a little overloaded by the end of it, but I was absolutely chuffed with his efforts. 

The afternoon wasn't quite the same story. Unfortunately I think he blew his mind and left his brain by the trailer for the most part. I ended up getting my instructor to ride him, and it was a pleasure to watch him in the end. He tried his little heart out, and although he totally lost it on a few occasions at the scary end of the school, he really made up for it in the end. 

Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Sluggish start

Having spent all Winter complaining about the ground being wet, the wind being cold, and not being able to ride, I am now in prime riding season and feeling so tired I'm really not making the most of it!

That said, the little bits that we have done have been positive. Trying, but positive. The third time of going to walk Rio out of his field after our first session, and he's walking up to it with no issues. I'm still leaving him to graze in order to close the gate a few yards away, but the panic is not as set in as it was before. I am hopeful that a few more sessions will crack that. 

I brought him up on Thursday evening and gave him a good brush down, before I hopped on and took him into the outdoor arena for some schooling. He was really not very attentive at all, and when my friend left the school with her horse, he was very tetchy. I decided to see if I could test his senses a little outside of our usual routine. Sylvia Loch has recently moved into the local area, and classical dressage is something that I would like to further explore with Rio. I think that with both done correctly, that CD and parelli will work nicely hand in hand. Both intend on creating a bond with the horse whereby a tiny movement or suggestion speaks volumes. 

So I decided that I would try simply dropping my inside leg weight slightly more into the stirrup, and see what happened. Now, Rio is still quite young (yes I know he's six now!) and is quite attuned to weight distribution. Something that I'm keen to utilise and not lose. I was pleasantly surprised that whilst keeping my line of sight straight through his ears, not moving my hands and reins to steer, that he started to turn. A little more weight in the stirrup, and he turned a little sharper. What magic this is. The basics are there for us, I just need to learn how to develop them.

For now, we will stick to small tweaks, and we need to do a lot of bending to ensure those corners aren't taking at a 45 degree angle to the ground when we make it up into canter. Moving forward, these little things are what give me the belief that my boy really can do anything, if only I can help him to learn!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Rio the Parelli Pony

It's that time of year again, I've got over 1,000 photos to choose from to edit. This year I had the pleasure of photographing Franks and two other horses as well as Rio! There are some beautiful shots, even though I do say so myself, so lots of playing to be done. 

Over the last few weeks, probably even getting on for months I have kept saying that I need to get back to doing some groundwork with Rio. As it goes, whenever the weather has played ball, of course I have ended up riding. This is leading to small problems that are developing, and him pushing a little more every time. I've not been picking him up on it, and allowing him to get away with it, so I will now be taking it very seriously. Yesterday we went to visit our friend with Sarah and Franks, with a view to schooling in the arena. I wanted to speak to Wendy about some confidence exercises to do with Rio on the ground, and we had a fab Parelli session.

It turns out that Rio is actually very claustrophobic behind. Once he listens, and focusses on me, he is very good at backing up. As soon as we put a pole behind him, however, his whole facial expression changed and he was genuinely worried. This was a ground breaking discovery for me, and has given me a whole new perspective. We played the squeeze game, going between the fence and two upright barrels, going through a standing hoop, working up to going over two half barrels in the hoop, and finally stepping over the two barrels laid on their sides. 

After all that thinking, he was positively sweaty, but after a bit of a break and a brush down, we saddled up and took to the arena. It took me at least 5 minutes to mount from the block in the corner of the school, but I remained persistent. I was so very close to giving in. A deep breath, and walk of a circle, and he finally stood still in the right place and we were off. Within minutes, he was blowing out, and was the most relaxed he has ever been in the arena there. 

I didn't push him too far as he was clearly hot already, and we've not been doing so much these last couple of weeks. After some lovely trot work, I squeezed him into a canter - and we cantered a full lap of the arena. It was just like cantering any other horse, and felt much more natural than we've had previously. He still motorbiked the second end, but the first bend was much smoother. Not only that, but we did a full lap of the arena on the other rein too! Yee Ha!

This evening, as it was pretty warm, I took to the field with parelli halter, carrot stick and 12 foot rope. I will give Rio confidence, and he will learn to respect me and trust me. We practised some backing up, before I took him toward the gate. Where he stopped, is where I started the driving game. He started trotting in a panic when I drove him towards the gate. As soon as he gave me a more relaxed response to my question, it was important to let him rest, and reward him. It took some time, but mixing this in with backing up, by the end of our session, Rio was standing outside the gate in the spot that he usually freaks at. I was over the moon. We will do this!