Sunday, 23 October 2011

Different day, different horse! But then I didn't wake up feeling at all anxious or worried either. Played in the playground with Sandra and Bert. B was soft and relaxed with no braciness at all. Lots of circle game, travelling circles, fig 8 without cones and z5 driving all the way across the field to the apple tree for an apple and back again.
Saddled up at liberty in B's stable! She stood still and relaxed totally with a very soft expression. Online over the road where I got on in the pub car park and with a huge local riding school ride gathered in the car park. No thresholds and we set off down the mile and 1/4 for the big squeeze game. B had a couple of shocks as golfers teed off. the noise sends a zap through her body but her feet stay still lol. Further on she needed to move her feet so we trotted but it wasn't very relaxed. I knew there must be someone coming up behind because B was tense and asking to look behind. Eventually they came past and B then took the lead for a long time which was lovely. Gives Bert a rest and we get to set the pace which is a little faster than Bert would go normally. Up the hill together in a very nice relaxed walk. At the top B felt the pressure of the big ride hoofing it up the hill behind us which made her need to move her feet. Lots of weave etc as we headed for home passing some girls from the yard. B has to stop and stare at them just to see who it is, then carry on lol.
Unsaddling was better than ever. Usually B's withers are so sensitive she hates the saddle being taken off and shivers really badly. Today she didn't flinch or step back and as we were by the shed she got to eat haylage fresh from the bale. Back in her stable we had a little conversation about brushing her sweat off and doing her feet. I interrupted the pattern of storming around the stable and she relaxed.
This week has been challenging but we had Terrific Tuesday and Super Sunday! I wonder if next week I can improve on two really good days?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Terrific Tuesday.

Some of the fencing is down in the arena in preparation for the makeover. I thought that might make things interesting today. Lots of gaps for a horse to exit from! I've been watching the latest Parelli dvd which is Mikey's Project. It has taken me weeks to find the time to see it and it was worth the wait. We were already halfway there and been following along the same ideas already but it's great to have a reminder of focus. One of the things I am good at is being provocative and interesting to B when we play. I get bored more easily than she does lol. So purpose has always been important for me. We have worked through her RBE terror and lack of focus, unconfidence and behavioral issues to a great degree of success so it's time to increase the savvy level. This is where I see us progressing out of level 2 and into 3 now and I am loving it. We are making words and short sentences now having got our ABC's pretty good.

B continues to be LB for which I am grateful but it does mean she is really trying to assert some dominance and be challenging in other ways. I am very happy to say my sense of humour and patience are limitless these days and knowing what exactly I am looking for from B helps. Expect a lot, accept a little and reward the slightest try.

This is a typical pose of B's at the moment. It says 'No! I don't want to!' Unlike a LBI she doesn't add 'make me'. Instead she will brace and try to back up then if the pressure isn't taken off explode and go RBE. She no longer sticks her head up as high as she can and I don't see much white of her eye. I have to really shut my energy down and focus on my draw and we start again after B has a rest and a scratch. It gets less extreme over time and we are continuing to play with 'going there' and then learning how to come back. We can actually play 'lets not go there' too these days. Like with extreme friendly which is coming on really well. Although she isn't totally calm about it some of the time she isn't going crazy any more.
We have been concentrating on playing some of the seven games a bit closer lately. This is in preparation for more liberty and it is paying off. Now that B is calmer and more confident she doesn't need so much drift. Today we played extreme friendly very close from z3 which initially B found very difficult. So we play the game of if you move please go back to where you were before you moved. I am learning to be very precise and persistent about this and actually I really enjoy it. B gets very annoyed with me sometimes and twice today she braced and wanted to run backwards. I have to be really, really careful not to brace and give her all the slack in the rope she needs. Interesting how she needs less and less rope each time. Sometimes she will paw the ground but pretty soon she stops moving and we can move on to the next thing.
Which today was saddling. I did think maybe we wouldn't ride as time just slips away when we are playing. But B only fidgeted a little and soon decided it was a better idea to stand still and give me permission to saddle her. Same with getting on. She didn't want to stand by my steps but after two or three circles she stood like a statue, watching me get on. She offered lateral flexion and we hung out and relaxed. I don't know who benefits from this more, me or B lol. Such a big issue for me. My butterflies can break formation and scatter in a nanosecond! We hung out, I checked my seat and relaxed some more and we set off for the nearest obstacle to play touch it. Then back again and rest. Did this a couple of times then B decided it was time to explore and leave the arena. Ok by me and we went for a mosey, passing by the mini goat who usually tries to headbutt B while she plays driving game with him.
We stopped off by my shed and B stepped in to eat a bit of haylage while I chatted to Steph. That gave us a chance to play with some back up and then go back to the arena. B didn't brace and seemed very happy to be a partner. I kept the session short and once we were back in the arena I got off. This gave B a chance to relax even more and eat some grass too.

I long for the days when we can progress some more and ride for longer. I have pushed us both too quickly in the recent past and we had to go back to the beginning again. These baby steps, which actually are giant leaps for us, are going really well. Both mine and B's confidence is building. I am so pleased and proud of how calm we are. A little bit astonished at how I can do this on my own. So nice to have that independence, although Pat, Linda and Claire are in my head lol.

Stoneleigh in my head.

I wanted to asses our broken relationship today after our challenging weekend. Sandra and I hired a horsebox for the weekend with a plan to go to a local park Saturday and then the sponsored charity ride Sunday. Bert and B loaded really nicely. We set off in the boiling heat to Trent Park only to discover a height restriction had been put in at the entrance and we couldn't get in! We drove to other entrances but no access could be found. After 2 hours of driving around in traffic we arrived back home and unloaded two hot and sweaty, bewildered horses.
Sunday I woke up feeling nervous and anxious. B must have picked up on that because she just point blank refused to load. I gave up after an hour. I was very upset and frustrated, more so about possibly having broken our relationship than anything else. Although spending all that money for what seems like nothing hurts! I took Sandra and Bert anyway. I had a nice rest under a tree and actually was glad \I missed a fraught hot ride.

Gave B the day off yesterday and noted she was very easy and polite with me. Somehow I expected her to be a bit off with me. She is more bracy than usual and I am having to be very observant and be particular about my leadership. She is constantly testing me in very tiny, subtle ways at the moment. I go to groom her she steps away, so I ask her to step back to where she was. This happens all the time now so I suspect our relationship is about to change again.
Had the opportunity to go and play in the field set aside for play/schooling for the first time today. Will have to give it a name, something amusing I think. I am just going to think about it as my field for now. My playground. My mini Stoneleigh lol. 
Anyway. Friendly and porcupine game a bit off. B was quite RB to begin with, not surprising as she has never been here before. She is very unconfident in new surroundings. Lovely to see her look to me for reassurance and comfort. We walked around for a while, she was snorting and blowing at the cross country jumps but she popped over all of them. I think moving her feet helped a lot at the start although it does bring her life up but RB switched to LB, eating grass and dominant. Lots of snaky head and change of direction on the circle game. I matched her energy which made me laugh and B look surprised. 

Very unrelaxed trot but lots of canter which wasn't emotional. Great time to work on B's emotional fitness. Lost the rope once and jumped on it to stop her leaving which resulted in her bracing and throwing her head up. Lots of trot to me to follow that and improve my draw. Lovely falling leaf in trot, travelling circles, rolling rock. So glad I didn't want to ride today. B was not ridable at any point. Marvelous to play in the huge field and be left alone. I could almost imagine being back at Stoneleigh and it made me feel very free. Refreshing to see the yard from a totally different view point. Four years of the same scenery can get stale. I liked the change of a view a lot. The weather was excellent, cloudy with a cooling breeze. Perfect!

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Relationship IN the saddle.

Today was HUGE!!! I can hardly type I am so full of excitement, energy and joy! Had a lesson with Claire Burgess today and B and I rode in the arena!!! We played for 3/4 of an hour before the lesson and Claire turned up just in time to see B cantering on the 45 like a very relaxed LBE! Downwards transitions with no explosions and then back up into canter again! I love to watch this LBE of mine starting to enjoy the sensation of cantering instead of the RBE running scared.

I can't quite remember what happened after that until we were doing some saddle prep. I probably rabbited on and on about the last month and what we have been up to. I feel compelled to tell Claire as much as I can and I remembered to ask about this continuing switching off that B does now and again. We had a bit of a day of it Sunday when lately her introversion had almost disappeared. B will always go there. there will be times when I hardly notice and others when I worry about it. Just the way she is. I know how to give her the support she needs so it will never be too much of a worry.

B was so LB I found I needed to be very particular about her standing in exactly the same spot to be saddled when she moved. Her behaviour until recently has been RBE , she has needed a lot of care and taking things slowly and being very careful with her emotions. It is wonderful to see the LBE side of her emerging, even LBI some of the time. There are times when I wonder if I can really deal with her and that perhaps I should have settled for another sensible cob type. But we are far down the road in our relationship now and I couldn't part with Breeze. We are well and truly partners and the idea of losing her is unthinkable. Plus she is so different now. I should do another horsenality chart and see where we are. B will always be innately RBE/LBE and sometimes go to extremes but in general I think she has become a lot more settled and even.

I upped my leadership, got saddled, did the girth up too quickly (sorry B)  and got on like I did it every day. Claire remarked on how nice and quick and excellent it was lol. I needed a little adjustment as it looks like I have got into a habit of perching too far forwards. This might explain my tension last Sunday. I think it's been creeping up on me slowly and I had got out of the habit of checking my position. Into power position and relax, what a difference it made immediately. Guess what, B relaxed too! We sat there and did nothing. That is such a bid deal for us. I have dreamed of this day when B and I would be back in that arena doing nothing. In her life before me it's always been work, work, work, move now, here, there, until she knew nothing but get it done now! My own experience of arena riding has been some lessons when I first learned to ride on unwilling uncooperative school horses, then lessons with Lizzie who did as I asked grudgingly. Followed by B and I attempting to do some follow the rail after our course at Stoneleigh and I see now I was far too tense and direct line. Plus, the magic of Stoneleigh does wear off especially when you go back to a 'normal' yard. B was a different horse on our course, surrounded by love and understanding and that wonderful Parelli bubble.

Next some lateral flexion, a few adjustments again and it was superb. I had jokingly told Claire B has trouble with the right side...not if you ask nicely lol. We had a little walk around, I asked B to turn away from the gate, she braced, I tensed and leaned forward. A little reminder from Claire about focus and persistence and B relaxed and went where I asked! At this point Claire asked what I should do as we stopped and I let out a big sigh, Claire jokingly said and now you Breeze.......B let out an even bigger sigh. Wish we had got that on camera!

It's all about the relationship IN the saddle, not just the leadership. I knew something was missing and this is it! Probably very obvious to everyone but me. I just couldn't pin point what I needed to do and how. Fear got in the way. I cannot describe how it felt. I think B has learned such a lot since i got her and changed dramatically. I have a habit of belittling my achievements and doubt my ability all the time. To feel even more relaxation in her and feel really safe was a revelation. I know we have come such a long way but new things become familiar and get taken for granted. As I explained to Claire, it's so difficult to gauge progress when you have no one and nothing around you to compare with. I concentrate on not looking at what goes on around me but all the same I am influenced no matter how hard I try not to be. I have found no matter how many Parelli dvd's I watch, celebrations I go to and courses I go on there is no substitute for someone being there when you need them in person to help and point the way. I am always astonished at how good Claire is as a teacher too. I get her and she gets me. It doesn't seem to matter how badly we explain things we understand what we are trying to say. Most importantly she understands the nature of my fear and even more importantly knows how to help me overcome it.

When I got off, amazingly gracefully I have to front of Claire I usually make a mess of everything that requires balance and coordination, I was amazed to see B's expression. Complete calm and relaxation. She looked totally LB and as if she had actually enjoyed herself. I know that's anthropomorphism but there was no mistaking her mood. I watched her mosey out into the field swinging her butt without any tension in her body at all and couldn't help but grin like an idiot!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Different horse, different day. Or is it different day, different horse!?

We had our usual (of late) short and sweet warm up in the arena. Today we got canter on the circle game and although B needed a cuddle afterwards she wasn't too emotional. Saddling was good and we found a few thresholds leaving the yard. I got on as usual in the pub car park. Today was a bit busy with a local riding school group were in the car park and three others from the yard came along all at the same time. Far too much pressure for B who just could not move from the entrance. I got off just as Sandra and Bert came to find us. We played online until we got to 'the loop' where I eventually got on. B decided she would much rather eat than stand for me to get on lol!

Another relaxed ride with no stops, some nice trot around the old woods, until we got to 'the straight' where B was adamant she wanted to go home. Ok by me, so we set off home alone. We passed the riding school group and B stayed calm as they passed but got emotional after so we trotted up the hill to the top. She didn't break gait at all but needed some focus when I asked for walk. We weaved trees and zig zagged and it felt really good. We got to the 'log trailer' where the sunlight made something look odd. Poor B couldn't stand it and turned and made to run. Not far tho and I was still calm and unafraid. A couple of hesitations and we got past. I stroked her and soothed her and pretty soon she was calm, so we made our way the rest of the way home. I had time to make sure I was relaxed and do a bit of pushing passenger too.

Crossing the road we were joined by the three we met on the way out and B spent the time waiting for a break in the traffic making faces at one of the geldings! And again when we got across the road and onto the yard lol. Opinionated LBE mare or unconfident RBE?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Indiana Jones riding

You can't see it in the photo but it chucked it down with rain as we set off for a ride. B and I had played briefly in the arena and got ready well before Sandra and Bert (my regular riding buddies) so we had done some mounting practice in the yard. Interesting how little prep we need at the moment. B is totally LB and looks like she knows all her jobs and just gets on with it. But she was having none of me getting on in the courtyard and wouldn't give me permission to get on. Once we were over the road in the pub car park she lined up with a great look on her face. Sandra says she looks interested and happy, watching me get on and looking to where we are going.
We were chilling and letting the horses eat when the heavens opened. B and I sheltered under a tree while Bert and Sandra got a bit wet so Bert could find a really tasty bit of bush to eat!

The horses were happily munching away, the rain eased and we set off when a group of 8 or so walkers came along the footpath parallel with the bridle path. Bert freaked out because they had stopped and were staring at us, then when they moved it was really slowly and creepily and it was just too much for Bert who turned and squeezed past us and ran a few paces back. Then B joined in. It's interesting to see how I have changed. Although her RB reaction gets me pulse racing a little I am not terrified at the moment. This is a really big thing! So this went on for a while, approach and retreat past the creepy walkers, even tho we asked them to act normally but don't stare. Then a pony and rider I know came along which was too much for B and I had to get off. She was retreated further and further back to the exit and I don't get into arguments with her when she can't do things.

We walked online to where I could get on, catching up with Bert and Sandra and off we went very happily. B felt like a different horse. She was relaxed and calm and just so LB I couldn't stop smiling. We trotted along the mile and 1/4 until we caught up with the prancing pony from earlier on and walked a bit. Sandra and I chatted away and I think we were a little away with the faeries, not noticing a group of golfers by the cafe. Suddenly Bert was freaking out because one of them had opened an umbrella! Poor Bert, He had done a 180 turn and stood some distance away, tense and staring at the group of golfers. B had reacted to Bert and followed in hot pursuit with me grabbing a big handful of mane and hanging on for dear life until I got lateral flexion.

Normal service was resumed when the golfers walked off, one of them apologising and promising to slap the one with the umbrella lol. We carried on round to the old woods like nothing had happened, even passing someone behind a hedge mowing their lawn without incident. In the rain.. Laughing and joking, talking about what had been happening. Bert decided we should go off piste so we detoured into the woods. B wanted to trot, it's bit too much squeeze game for her sometimes,and got too close to Berts butt. Suddenly he was telling her in very clear terms that she was too close by bunny hopping and giving her both barrels of hind feet! B was very quick to react and stayed just out of range...after that she kept her distance! I had felt her front end come up and saw Berts butt bobbing up and down in front of me and in the nano second it took my brain to process what was happening calm was restored. This was when Sandra and I decided our rides were starting to feel like mini adventures not dissimilar to Indiana Jones movies! Great fun and very entertaining but sometimes when we get back to the yard we feel a bit exhausted by it all!

The rest of the ride was lovely. I marveled at how relaxed B was, how well we weaved the trees..we got a compliment from some riders we passed just further on. I had got a bit down and anxious all week wondering if I really knew what I was doing and despite having a great ride Thursday with a different riding buddy I find I do like to beat myself up and think I am useless! I expect to get scared and feel anxious and then have B do the same. Lately that hasn't happened but I still expect it all to go back to how it has been for far too long. Looks like getting off is doing B and my confidence such a lot of good that it takes me by surprise. I guess I didn't expect what an impact it would make and how easy it would be!

I was thinking later on about how B felt riding her. I can detect a difference, a softening if you like. Less resistance. I remembered when we got back to the yard and B decided to have a mosey around the back of the courtyard. Going back into the courtyard I asked her to turn a certain way and I felt a tiny, tiny bit of brace and then she relaxed and did as I asked. That's a tiny little change but a huge one at the same time. Really brings home the issues sha has and how we are working through them.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Things feel different these days.

Here's an earlier post I forgot to post from the beginning of the month. I don't know why the photos aren't coming up though.

Had a great lesson with Claire on 2nd August. Spent a long time with saddling and getting on. I think I have got into a pretty stale routine with B and not taking any notice of her thresholds. No longer! We have been spending lots of time going very slowly with saddling and getting on since then.
Saturday we rode and it was fabulous. Played in the arena, saddled up in the courtyard and got on. B couldn't leave the yard and was only happy in the courtyard so I got off and we walked over to the pub car park where B immediately lined up by the bench. Talk about green light to get on! She was practically shouting at me! Lol. Not surprisingly we had a great ride. B kept her distance from Bert. No spooking and trotting was lovely. We had set off around the old woods but when we got to the turn where we could go home B refused to go any further. She wanted to go home. So I said bye to Sandra and let B go home!
It was quite a relaxed walk and we had a trot up the hill. B felt tense when we got to the top and I thought I had better get off. The second I thought it she relaxed and we carried on home weaving through the trees and having a great time.

Sunday was a whole different day. Warm up was good until I got the featherlights on and B showed how bracy and unconfident she could be, just like when we ride. All she wanted was to head for the gate and get out of there. I saddled up in the courtyard and it really blew B's mind. It was the most engaged she has been yet, paying close attention to what I was doing. She has almost stopped stepping back now. When we were ready and waiting for Sandra and Bert she came and stood ext to me, hung her head really low and switched off. I stroked her head and massaged between her ears for ages it seems. B was really inside her head and it worried me a little. I haven't seen her go this deep in a long time. When she came out of it we followed Sandra and Bert online over the road where B went introverted again. That made me decide not to ride. We let Sandra go off and hung around to eat grass and stuff.

Since then I have been chatting to my connected members on Parelli Connect and feeling like I have more information. Not to mention some wonderful support. I think I have been ignoring my own thresholds and the fear has been eating away at me but I have not acknowledged it. Combined with B's hormones as she has been in and out of season all summer we have both lost confidence.