Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday morning

Jude had time to come out and see Indy so I picked her up about 8.15 this morning - it looked like the day was going to be spectacular and I didn't really want to be out in the heat of midday & the afternoon.

Indy was pretty good to catch and only needed to be asked a couple of times to lower her head. She was pretty good to brush, despite Sam having taken Hunter out to groundwork/ride (Indy was busy trying to listen to whatever it was that Hunter was doing!).

Ian wasn't around so we headed for the arena to start some groundwork. Indy was a little unsettled and kept trying to watch and go over to see Hunter, so I put her out on one line. She has improved amazingly! I asked for some trot which, as Trisha emailed the other day, REALLY helps her stretch out in the walk afterwards. I was quite careful that her trot wasn't too short and choppy. On her right, the 'stiffer' rein, I had to stay a lot closer to her and work a little harder to keep the contact consistent. Her trot is also a little more "airy-fairy" in the sense that she doesn't have as much impulsion or direction. Still, big changes, so I was very happy. After trotting to the right her walk was incredible; so long as I focussed on staying centred, changing my rotation and keeping the connection on the line, she would track up with her hind feet and for a few steps she even overtracked.

I swapped from right to left again, then a tiny bit more on the right. Then I heard Ian out on the quad so asked him to unlock the tack room and got her ready to ride. She was a lot better with bringing her head down on command for the various ropes/reins/bridle straps to be put over her head, and even looked to open her mouth for the bit (huuuge difference from us almost having to feed her to get her to "unlock" her closed jaw).
I did a little with two reins (holding both the CR rope and the reins) and some little turn on the forehand stuff before mounting. The TOF is coming along nicely, too: last week all I was looking for was an inclination, now she offers a step or sometimes two, though all I want is one step before I let her walk.
She stood very nicely for me to mount from the arena fence - well, the 2nd time! The first time I had her lined up and my foot in the stirrup, she decided Mavis & the cows just had to be in front of her, but once she was looking their direction she was happy for me to mount from the right.

I asked for a few nice circles and changes of rein. Her stopping is much softer. She doesn't need quite as much help from my rotation to bend. Her bend is smoother, and she can maintain the direction we're going even when she wants to look somewhere else. She gets less stuck through the changes of rein.
She offered trot a couple of times so I asked her to walk again, as her trot is just too short for her to think that's what we want. She managed the downwards transitions nicely.
To finish, I asked for some TOF (half a step) in both directions.

Untacking, she even offered to lower her head for me to take off the bridle, which is FABULOUS progress! It seems that she is starting to understand every. single. time. we ask, she needs to put her head down, or we will just keep asking until she does. So the cheeky pony got a carrot for her effort.
Letting her go in the paddock was almost as good - she put her head straight down and left it down for me to take off the halter, then stood to eat two half carrots, rather than charging off after the first mouthful had been snatched. She only took a couple of steps when she did leave before looking back for more ;)

Maybe my musings the other night that she would not be staying if I had to put up with this "nah, I can't be bothered being caught today" rubbish for too long made a difference... ;)

Photos from last Sunday are awesome but yet to be loaded. I will also flick through the ones that Jude took today.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Another update from Trisha

Trisha sent me this email before she left for her weekend teaching in the Manawatu. Awesome progress: anything that helps her lengthen her walk has got to be a good thing!

I will pop up during the weekend for groundworkand perhaps a short ride. If I can coerce someone into coming with me, I will be able to get them to take pics.

Indy has done great this week ;-)

I've 1-lined her in trot twice; at first I wondered if it was fair, because she was quite choppy and toe first.  But I trotted her over the labyrinth poles, and she did well, stretching and lifting much better.  Yesterday when I rode her afterwards she seemed to have a longer walk, yay, so I think that helps.  She is haltering and bridling really well.  No problems girthing at all.  Ridden, she now has a soft backup, and a nice turn on the forehand each way.  She feels soft and balanced when walking and turning, and is nice and soft with the bit now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An update from Trisha

We're into week 4 ;-)

Indy has been great the last 2 days, haltering really nicely.  I think it's helped that we are putting halter and bridle on, and having to switch the reins back and forward!

[On Sunday we realised that working in the halter first and then adding bridle later meant a lot more repetition with Indy needing to lower her head for things to get over her ears: halter, CR rope to start; CR rope back, reins over, then bridle, then CR rope again to bridle; and finally CR rope, reins, bridle and halter off when done.]

We've been doing a little backing up, and it's getting much softer in front - still a tiny bit stuck behind, but good enough for everything that's going on with her.  The turn on the forehand is good now, too, and she's nice and soft in the bridle when walking and turning.

She still walked away from me the last 2 days when I went to catch her, and yesterday, because he couldn't see her, Cruise hooned around the whole time I was on her.  She's very good, doesn't seem to be at all bothered about that.  I was fed up with Cruise tho and that's not good for him, so I went ahead and put him in with my lot.  This morning Hunter is still keeping him away from his girls!  Indy has called for Cruise but that's all, she's quite settled.  So we'll see how she catches today!

[I found Indy was quite OK with Scarlett going away, but did call out as if to say "get back here!" and always watched until Scarlett was back. Indy was fine leaving Scarlett, too. I have just gone about what I need to do with them both as if the other wasn't there, as I will NOT have two horses who are completely dependant on each other.]

Trisha is away this weekend in the Manawatu but I will aim to go up for at least some groundwork with Indy. If I can find Ian, I might hop on and have a ride in the round pen. I'll see how the groundwork goes first though!

Now I just have to sort through and load up Sunday's photos......

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week three: done

Trisha was on track to finish the third week by today. Indy had a few days off last week, between Wednesday and Sunday.

Due to a few floating issues with Scarlett, I decided to head up without her and lesson with Indy instead on Sunday.

We even had a photographer, thanks to Trisha's Scottish friend Sally, so there are a HEAP of awesome shots.

Sam & Cruise were the only others there... a real surprise seeing we're only a month away from Peggy's clinics! Trisha is holding a final pre-Peggy Intensive on the 15th, which clashes with Clevedon A&P show so I won't have any more lessons before December.

We started off with some people stuff... lots to remember to remember! For me, mostly softening the muscles in my upper chest, not holding my back, remembering to breathe, floating forward, and expanding between sacrum and sternum.
Then onto groundwork. Some baby turn-on-the-forehand: looking for just one step in the direction we're asking for. More with two lines and/or two reins. More meeting and melting on the reins, which was TOTALLY easy today. The three days off really helped her to process those things from earlier in the week.

Towards the end of the morning, Trisha took Indy on one line so I could see progress there. Indy is a lot softer, even in the contact, and better at maintaining her own speed and direction. She is still very one-sided. On her good side, Trisha can ask for a 'fair whack' more bend for a few strides, but on the other she can only ask for about one step before Indy loses her engine.

Indy was WELL done by the time we stopped for lunch. She and Cruise chilled in the yards, then Trisha helped Sam with some saddle fitting. Funnily enough, the saddle I *still* have to sell for Catherine fitted Cruise the best, but he was being very grumpy so Sam is going to give him a few weeks off before committing to a saddle purchase.

Them fiddling with saddles and chalk tracings meant Indy could chill beside the arena, ahem, helping Ian with grass control ;) She needed the break and it was good for me to watch Cruise. He was totally done after some groundwork with Trisha, so I became the main focus and hopped on Indy.

She was a star. She hasn't been this "ready" to go before: it was VERY cool to ride. She lined up nicely at the mounting block then stood quietly for me to mount.
We kept riding to a minimum but were able to ramp up our expectations. I started introducing rotation in both directions rather than just the direction of travel. She did a few nice circles and changes of bend and rein. When I remember my elbows and rotation, she is heaps better (I hear Peggy's voice, said with a glint in her eye: "oh, really?!").
We had a short trot (her offering) and a few really soft halts: not nearly so abrupt as they have been. She walked over the short side of the TTEAM labryinth calmly.
Trisha also got me working on some mounted turn-on-the-forehand, to continue the stuff she's started on the ground. Soon I'll be able to ask for that into a walk to encourage her to stretch out and telescope her neck.

A few other musings... Indy is holding her head in a much nicer place.
She is free-er in her walk and much more eager.
She doesn't run out of energy so quickly.
She accepts the contact on rein AND CR rope, as opposed to needing me to go back to just the rope on Wednesday.
Her head is steadier.
She is less on her forehand.

We untacked and Trisha loaded up the photos on her computer for us to look at - some really interesting moments captured. I haven't looked at them on this computer yet.
Before I left, I gave Indy's feet a quick tidy up. She was still VERY sore on the medial bar on her right fore, and had a HUGE old abscess hole on the lateral heel of her left hind, so no wonder she's been a bit short on the arena and over the sharp gravel.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wednesday photos

Oops, I have not loaded up Wednesday's photos yet!!
Technical issues with photobucket (which tends to pick random photos to NOT upload...) and then my internet windows crashing (thanks also to photobucket) mean a few pics are missing... They might make it to the blog one day.

Or not.



In sync

Connecting tail


Starting to come through

More through

Release that neck...
Meeting and melting
Lovely halt

I also forgot to mention I did a quick trim after the lesson, and uncovered an abscess + blank gunk under the lateral bar on her left fore - no doubt the reason she was a bit ouchy. Looked like it was a reasonably big one, though I wasn't expecting gunk. I need to trim all feet properly but tidying up her fronts should have helped.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Indy was a baggage today... She quite happily came up to me in the paddock, then departed before I could halter her.


I resorted to taking Cruise out of the paddock without her! THEN she wanted to be caught... I took a 2nd (long!) lead rope with me and looped it round her neck before asking her to lower her head for the halter, and the baggage thought about departing again!!

Trisha said she had not worked with Indy consistently for the past couple of days due to the weather. This battle seems to be one I am going to have to win by pure day-after-day persistance.

Once in the yard, I gave her a quick brush as Trisha filled me in on progress since my last visit. As usual, there are holes which seem to re-appear as if filled with quicksand. However, she is softer, lighter, and easier to deal with, so Trisha's work IS paying off!

Trisha tacked Indy up (yet another battle of wills to get her to lower her head nicely!). I gave her a few oats to reward her once the bridle was on and we made our way out to the arena.

She is starting off nicer and easier. Trisha has introduced some turn on the forehand stuff (mostly asking for just an 'inclincation' of a step sideways to start). She has also done some backing as indy was like a brick wall when asked to back from the reins.
Another new thing is Indy's acceptance of two-rein work. She is a lot smoother and doesn't stall anymore.

Trisha has also been practicing meeting and melting with the reins, when she picks them up. Indy is trying to work out why Trisha wants... what does she want again?! All we're looking for at the moment is a nice, soft response to the gentle picking up of the reins.

Meet, melt :)

Then I got to see some groundwork (mostly two-rein work).

Trisha mentioned that Indy is a bit short-strided still, despite the 3 ET sessions freeing her up substantially. I mentioned I'd seen she was landing toe-first in last week's photos... As they walked a couple more small circles, Trisha commented she could see and feel that Indy was scuffing the sand up as she dug her toes in with each step (something for the trimmer to address, huh!!!!).

I picked up the CR rope and walked her to the mounting block to get on. All good! She is starting to feel like a really "solid citizen." I don't feel the uncertainty and lack of knowledge that was present only a few weeks ago. She walked right off.

I had did a little more "purpose" than previously - I asked for some nice bending, a couple of simple changes of rein on a sort of figure 8 shape. I really have to remember my rotation around the bend. Changing rotation helps keep her balanced. When I forget to own my elbows (specifically the outside one), she drifts the direction *she* wants to go as opposed to the way I think we should head. She offered a little trot, which was quite balanced.

I took quite a few photos... Trisha even took a few pics of me riding! I'll have to load the photos up another day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No visit & some other snippets

I'm not going up to visit Indy today. Trisha was away yesterday in Auckland for lessons. I was going to squeeze in a visit before Faith & I head to Auckland for two days trimming with Penny.
However, the weather has packed in (according to Trisha it's "totally foul" !). So, I'll head up on Wednesday next week, weather permitting.
She is definitely due to have her feet trimmed - I should have done it last week! - and I also need to take hoof pics, now that my faulty Cybershot camera has been replaced.

I took Scarlett out this morning to beat the forecast bad weather; we had a lovely ride. She is starting to come right after Tuesday's float trip and her sore feet... I uncovered a couple of abscesses in her hind feet last time I trimmed, and had loaned her boots to my client for a couple of weeks. I had more (second hand) boots to use in the meantime, but something about them wasn't right: she was quite ouchy in them. I got her boots back yesterday and she seems to be happier already. We even cantered down a couple of stretches of good grass verge on the way home.

I'm off to pick up my friend Liz's float shortly, then Faith & I will depart for Kumeu. A boardie, Vanessa, has very kindly offered one of her lovely Connemara mares to Liz & her daughter Teri, on lease until next year. Vanessa's grazing is about 20 kms from Penny's so I volunteered to be driver ;)
We'll collect Bridgette on our way home on Tuesday evening and bring her back to Tamahere. I promised Vanessa "arrival" photos but it might be dark by the time we deliver the pony! Oh well, I'll have to go past next weekend instead :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Good day

Tough day with Scarlett yesterday. Then Trisha sent a message to say Indy had a really really good day!

Great catching and haltering, groundwork tacked up, 2 line then 2 rein walking, then 1 lining!
Very good baby, and not bothered about the gale force wind.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week two at Trisha's

Following a week of very nice weather, I went up to see Indy again this afternoon. The work Trisha has been doing is really showing - we can both see a lot of improvement.
Cruise objected to me seeing, catching, and taking Indy away. He has spent some time apart from Indy as he was being somewhat UNhelpful during the week... As he's The Boss, he reserves the right to decide Who does What, When!!
He likes a good rark up so on the odd occasion when Indy races around, he'll join in then keep her going. He has also been busy keeping Trisha away from Indy when it is time to be caught.

I fended Cruise off then gave Indy a good brush (even brushing out her mane and tail) then watched Mavis bring her cows in for milking while Trisha was on her way outside.

Then Trisha started off with some groundwork.... On went the halter - err, not quite! Indy tossed her head at the wrong moment then realised she was not tied, so wandered back towards the paddock. Always one step ahead of me! Then through the gate into the race.... Paused for me to catch up but not quite get even! Stepped on a rock - a HAH! thought I - nope, off again at a slow meander...
She got nearly all the way to the end of their paddock (about where the two calves are in the pic above) before I managed to *nonchanlantly* walk past her as if I wasn't catching her, then I was in front of her and the game was up.

Finally in the arena, Trisha showed me the things she has been working on. I was quite happy with how she was going.
She is stopping more squarely and standing more evenly.

Heart Girth press
Wither rock
She is also more responsive to the 'walk on' cue - lighter and quicker to shift her weight and move off.
Her bend is improving, as is the length of her stride (she has been quite short and choppy to date). Her inside hind leg is coming underneath her more consistently.

She is also 'coming to work' faster - she needs less time to ease into what we want from her, and then is able to process quicker. Trisha described it as Indy needing small reminders to maintain the movement, rather than instructions Every. Step. Of. The. Way.
Two lines
Work on two lines has improved dramatically. Indy is not 'stalling' the same was she has been, even last week. 
Having a cuddle!
Connecting her to her tail is also very good for her.
Connecting head and tail

More time on two lines

Connecting her tail on the other rein
She got plenty of well-deserved rests.

Then we tacked her up. Trisha took the opportunity of having me there to put me up as Crash Test Dummy (jokes! She'll be riding from tomorrow onwards).
It was really neat for me to feel how Indy has progressed. She is just so much 'more' than when I rode her a couple of weeks ago. She doesn't run out of steam so quickly or abruptly. Her 'buttons' are clearer, easier to activate, and she is also listening to me rather than just doing what she wants (or, all that she can do).

Her balance is really good: after half a circle of walk she decided to trot. It wasn't naughty in the slightest; more of a "ooh, I can do this, let's go!"
I asked for a couple of circles and a few changes of direction; asked her *not* to halt a few times (she listened really well and kept going until it was my decision to stop).

Probably only 15 mins riding in total, but she was really good so it was time to get out of the bitter wind.

I've booked the dentist to come and see her tomorrow. It seems she has lost the two caps which were still there last week all by herself, however it's always good to know she is feeling OK about her mouth, especially with lots of riding in the next few weeks.
I will join the Cambridge Riding Club for something to motivate me to get both mares out and about more often.  They hold rallies most Tuesdays and often hack out on Sundays. When Indy is home, she can start experiencing the Big Wide World - until then I will take Scarlett.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


I went to Trisha's this morning to watch one of her sessions with Indy.

Cruise is coming to live at Trisha's so his owner can get a bit more riding in. She's taken the opportunity of having Indy there to let Cruise settle into life at Cassie's Farm with just one paddockmate. It will also give her ample time to introduce him to her herd of four before he goes out with them.
Despite Indy being Boss Mare everywhere else, Cruise gave her Just One Look upon arrival on Friday and she knew she was not top dog anymore.
It's funny because she beat Scarlett up when she was first at home, yet Scarlett is the boss of Cruise... What a weird triangle of power!

I bought her into the yards and gave her a good groom. She is moulting like crazy and had LOTS of very itchy spots. Trisha told me about progress so far.
The first couple of sessions went really well: she got sofer, more responsive... generally more OK with things. Caterpillar, Cheek delinations and Heart Girth improved. She was shifting her weight well from side to side.
The groundwork has helped free her up in her shoulders, under her armpits, and in her neck. Trisha is going to do an Equine Touch session with her soon, as she is very tight in her back and HQs.

Then some more holes showed up... Talking to Trisha, I've had to deal with every one of them at some stage, but didn't consider them holes because they were one-offs... Or knew they were holes but thought I'd worked through them.

Indy occasionally objects to being caught in the paddock. Baby horse "hey, human, don't you know that I just hang out, doing what I want, when I want, how I want? I don't want to do whatever's on your agenda!"
She also objects to having her halter put on, or taken off, on occasion, by throwing her head around. She knows how to lower her head but sometimes you just have to work through her insistance that she really doesn't feel like it today. It makes me wonder what sort of thing happened to her once, to make her feel insecure about the halter strap going over her ears - something as simple as pulling back and hurting herself, getting her ear pulled by a head strap being caught on it, etc.

After about half an hour of exercises in the yard, Trisha took her out into the arena. The weather was absolutely lovely: sun out in full force, no wind whatsoever.
Indy responded with some very nice work. She is more consistently lowering her head and telescoping her neck, coming through more from behind, loosening up in her stride.

She was starting to fade and take longer to come back after processing, so it was time to head back to the paddock.
Trisha will most likely continue with groundwork only for another week before starting to include ridden sessions. She has found that splitting the work into two shorter sessions means Indy can cope with it (she IS still a baby pony with very few miles under her, so finds this work quite tiring) and therefore make more progress.