Saturday, 20 June 2015

Head rubs

We've been continuing our ground work and I am feeling very good about it. 

We had a very rewarding session early on in the week where we worked on the circling game, and he was much more relaxed. He is rushing less, and maintaining better, which is lovely to see. He's getting a bit clever and trying to guess what I'm going to ask of him before I get to asking it, so it's a little tricky! I have to make sure I try and change up the game a little and keep him guessing. One of his favourite tricks is stopping with his front feet over any and every pole. I've had to work on this to make sure that he isn't doing things I'm not asking. To try and rectify it, I decided it was time to up the ante. It took a few minutes to get the result, but as you can see above, we managed to work out how to stop with left feet on one side and right feet on the other! 

Mid week he was far more tense. He came up and was finding it hard to focus. Everything was a bit scary, and when he managed to zap his nose on the electric, that was the end of any fruitful work for the night. He managed some good circling in trot, but was by no means relaxed. 

Yesterday I had a water issue to deal with! Not my favourite sight...

On Thursday it was lovely and quiet, and Rio was much calmer. I decided that I would change things up a little and ride. He was much more relaxed outside his stable, where he usually fidgets and stresses - this may have been because Franks was in his stable 3 doors down, but even when Sarah took him away to go back to his field, Rio wasn't spinning, calling or fidgeting like normal. I opted to take him out to the ramp to mount as that's where I used to get on before he moved stables, and I know he is more comfortable there. I wanted to keep it as stress free as possible. He stood beautifully, waited to be asked to move off, and listened when I told him it was OK to walk past the scary rubbish skip. 

We stuck to walking, but focussed on getting an attentive, good quality walk, with a bit of roundness. It wasn't 100% but I was happy with his efforts. Especially considering he's not been asked to come down and round for some time, and that it had been a week since I'd been in the saddle again. He was fairly relaxed, and it didn't take too long for him to blow out, confirming he was more settled. 

This evening we just had a small groundwork session in the field. We played some friendly game, including swinging the carrot stick around our heads, and although he took a few steps, I was able to disengage him very easily and continue. We moved on to the circling game, and it was the best he's done yet. He kept up a perfect rhythmical trot, and despite a few excitable frolicking strides of canter he was very well behaved. He even picked up a fantastic collected canter on the right rein, which he impressively maintained around me for a circle without losing his footing! This is progress. His balance appears to be much improved, which I'm hoping will also go towards building his confidence. 

All in all, I couldn't be happier with my boy. He's my absolute superstar. To round it off, he's getting more comfortable with me rubbing his head between his eyes, which he has never ever been very comfortable with. Hopefully soon he will accept it as a form of affection instead of seeing it as a bad thing! 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Treading new waters

I'm falling more and more in love with this boy. 

On Tuesday evening in the wind we came up and did some groundwork. He was lovely and responsive and relaxed. His claustrophobia behind is developing, and he managed to back up over a pole much faster than the other day. We then worked on our circling game, where he relaxed faster, and ended up walking nicely with a good stretch on both reins. I was super excited when I managed to ask him to stand with both right feet one side of the pole, and both left feet the other side! He's really gotten the hang of stopping with his front feet over the pole, so I felt it was time to step it up. It wasn't easy, but after a bit of patience and perseverance we made it. 

Today the weather was warm but with a cool breeze. Sarah kindly waited for me before getting Franks in to ride, so we saddled up and joined them for a gentle mooch up the track. It's the first time I've ridden in almost two weeks, Other than his usual habit of being a little joggy on the way back, he was good as gold. I just need him to relax a little more and not feel he needs to rush on the way back! It's hard, because I think it must be partly something I'm doing, but I just don't know what. I've been much more relaxed in my riding over the last few months, but perhaps I'm still overthinking it.

When we got back, with all of the jogging, he was very sweaty. He stood very nicely whilst I sponged him down (of course he rolled when we got back to his field!) and I was super pleased. When we got back down to the paddock, I decided to do a bit of ground work (mean mummy I know!)

We did some work on backing up from the first gate to the second. Then I asked him to circle - left rein, lovely. Straight out, nice and relaxed, and stopped when I asked him to. Right rein - well, it was far more lively. I'm not sure if I have a stronger send with my right hand because it's my dominant hand, but I found this evening that he responded better to no carrot stick being used on that rein. His disengage was much improved, which was a big positive. 

All in all, I'm so pleased with my gorgeous boy. If I can really stick to my ground work, we are absolutely going to be rocking it in the future. And I will stick to it! 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Growing trust

Riding has taken a very back seat at the moment, and we've been sticking more and more to ground work. I'm determined to get Rio more confident, as it has become clearer that he really is lacking in self assurance. 

We went up for a play at our friend's again on the weekend, and got to collect our brand new Parelli rope! Now our mission is to get rid of that shiny bright white and get busy with it. We learned more about backing up with sideways adjustments this week. Due to his claustrophobia, we have been working around poles and trying to get him to back up to a single pole. The first time we tried, he was having none of it, so it was rewarding this time when after a few minutes of trying, he managed it. 

There was a moment where he was clearly in two minds and was just staring straight ahead in concentration. My friend made it so easy to pick up and learn, and I value her time so much. As soon as he blinked, and was "back in the room", we continued. It was quite funny to see him resist to the point that his front feet were backed right up to his back feet before he finally got his hind feet backed over it. His little face once he made it was priceless. More work to be done on this!

We then did some work on learning the circling game. As we are not riding much at the moment, I wanted to learn how to do this so that I can at least get him moving and try and keep him fit. The other benefit is that it gives him responsibility to maintain his pace. He relies heavily on being micro managed. Rio is a clever boy, and I'm sure he can count. He started out by taking off at a canter, and stopping at the start point! He developed on to trot two rounds before stopping where he started. I soon got the hang of a stronger send when he was doing this, and we ended on a very nice 4 circles before I disengaged his hindquarters and allowed him to stand. 

Rio was a very sweaty boy by the time we had finished. It takes a lot of brain power for him to achieve these things, as he thinks about everything so much. In some ways, he is a bit too clever at times! This is also a downfall for him, because he will often over think things, but that's why I'm so keen to work on our relationship on the ground. I'm truly looking forward to our future together.