Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tonight Bella and I did some very basic work. I moved her at all gaits in the round pen, naked. i was wondering if the saddle causes her to move differently but I guess it's just how she's moving. She has an odd lope, with her but popping up in the air a bit, but I think it's because she's not relaxed and her conformation is downhill. It's not a buck, just a weirdness. Although she will throw a little attitude in there at times.

Eventually what we worked on the most was her giving her head to the side. She has this habit of snatching her head back to her shoulder without looking at me (her eyeball is cranked forward with white of her eye showing) and then quickly popping her head back out front. What I want is for her to gently move her head and look at me and have a friendly interaction. I don't need it all the way around, and I don't need her to touch anything, there is no target, and I will release but she can't have her head back right away - not until she looks at me with a soft thought in her head rather than a jerky panicked avoidance reaction. I just want her to realize this is a friendly game of give and release - not something she has to be afraid of and do quickly. I think there is a little attitude hidden in her jerky give as well, and by not accepting that as an answer, I think it will go away.

I took the mounting block into the round pen and had her stand next to it while I rubbed her all over and played the friendly lateral flexion game. I laid over her back too but didn't mount. She didn't line up very well to the mounting block from the off side. So we kept trying until we got it done, with much thought and a lot of try, then we had to call it quits.

Why did we have to call it quits? Tonka was romping around, running, half-rearing, spinning, stopping. Dummy. I'd put him in a different small pen and there was a flash of lightning and a cold breeze and he just felt too charged up to act like an invalid. So I had to go catch him and tie him up for a while. I don't think he hurt himself any worse.

While I was catching Tonka, Bella got her leg over her rein (no bit - her lead rope was looped like reins and attached to the halter) in the round pen. She stood there giving to the pressure, looking kind of confused, but she patiently waited for me to release her from her predicament. So she's sensible, even if she is a bit of a worry wort.


Anonymous said...

I like what you're doing trying to get her to slow down and have her eye soften - Drift and I are working on some stuff like that too.

Linda said...

Cowboy sometimes does that jerking the head away like he thinks the bending is beneath him, but he does great on the trails, so I don't know what that really means. I'm sure you're right and consistency will make it go away. She sounds really smart to have stood there and gave to pressure while you were away with Tonka. I think that's a very good sign.

Kara said...

I can't even tell you how much Bella sounds like Catlow! Everything is the same! Even the cantering. I couldn't get Catlow to canter when I was first working with her. In the round pen, I had to push and push her to get her to canter and she would just sort of scoot forward and then stop as soon as I relaxed. I gave up in the round pen and tried to work her cantering while riding out (this was with me ponying her because it was before I started riding her). Even when the other horse cantered, she'd just trot really fast! I finally got her to canter alongside me by timing my canter requests with a downhill slope. Her issues didn't stem from lameness or confomation faults though...I think they were just all in her head. She was "sticky" and I always felt like I needed to get her to free up her movement in order to really know I could control her when riding. But she got better as she got more comfortable with me. I just quit trying to push her all the time and tried more soft relaxing things, and that seemed to really help her trust me. I did post my work with training Catlow back in January-ish of 2009 on my blog...if you are interested in comparing notes.

Kara said...

It was actually December 2008 that I started posting entries from the journal that I kept while training Catlow.