New news in the world of pony training!
WHERE WE AREN’T PROGRESSING
☾☁ The pyramid (my graph for charting the progress of standing around for 10 or more minutes without moving)
We haven’t gotten anywhere with the pyramid, unfortunately, because of the flies! So funny how little stuff like that gets in the way of something you’re actually serious about. When I ask Comfort to stop and stand still, she stomps her feet and swishes her tail and scratches her face on her leg because of the flies. So . . . I really have to pick up some fly spray so we may continue our training on schedule!
☾☁ Riding – I’ve got a lesson on Thursday, so we shall see.
WHERE WE ARE PROGRESSING!
☀♥ The BEST thing happened to me! Comfort actually came up to me in the pasture and willingly let me halter her!
Whenever I move Comfort to a new barn, she is always so easy to catch. She loves me more than the other horses, because she doesn’t know them yet. As soon as she gets comfortable with the herd, the issues come back. So I am very excited my approach is working. Today, she didn’t wait for me to walk up to her, she actually turned around and walked up to me! It was SUCH A GREAT FEELING! She knew I was going to halter her and she was perfect about it!
☀♥ Another thing that’s working out well for me – leading!
When Comfort is a willing and attentive participant in leading, halting in hand is a breeze! When she isn’t, she acts like she is leading well and then when I ask her to stop she keeps going and gets pushy. That’s when I realize she was just going through the motions the whole time totally distracted – rats!
I had a cool, new epiphany, today, that Comfort responded to quite well. So I was reading up a bit on Parelli, which I do from time to time. I found something called the circle game. I didn’t realize it, but it was something my trainer told me about months ago – traveling circles. Basically Parelli was explaining that the circle game forces the horse to take responsibility and think, something that is really, really great for Comfort! Basically, it’s like lunging, but you don’t drive the pony forward with your body language.
You don’t turn your feet as she orbits around you. If the pony stops, ask her to keep going, but don’t do any more than that. Make them maintain their gate and momentum on their own. It keeps their brains engaged and keeps them better connected with you. Every time I lead Comfort and her shoulder passed mine, I’d send her into orbit. Then once I felt she was sufficiently paying attention to me, I’d offer for her to walk next to me. If her shoulder passed mine, she’d go back into orbit again until I deemed her ready to travel by my side again. Finally I got her paying enough attention to where she lead straight to the gate without acting pushy. I don’t know if she’s ever done that at this barn more than perhaps three times since I moved her? I was SO proud of her! And that was after leading in the arena (and halting in hand) like a pro, so that was doubly awesome! What a great day!!!
In my opinion, we are still on part IV, so I’m considering this IV.5 . . . IV.V? I think Comfort coming up to me in the pasture and then hanging around for me to halter her is a significant milestone, deserving of a “6.” It’s exactly what my ideal looks like, and all I need is for it to become a consistent thing. Leading is definitely up to a “4,”now. Although she doesn’t lead like a gem and still gets pushy and sticky, I know what to do to get her attention back. Furthermore, in the arena, she was pretty close to perfect. Her attention drifted and at one point she got a little worried, but most of the time she was calm and attentive. Her head was low and close to me, and her feet weren’t in a hurry. Something I’ve really started to enjoy with Comfort is giving her huge slack in the lead rope. If she’s nervous, she has room to drift, and when she’s not nervous, she voluntarily magnetizes back to my side. When she feels trapped, she panics, so the drifting room is really great. That’s a mixture of some Parelli and John Lyons concepts rolled into one big, beautiful pony training burrito.
Until next time!