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!