Hello there. I haven't had much to say since my little buddy went to a new home. It's been kind of boring and lonely without Marley, but I've handled it well and I'm enjoying the extra attention from MyLady.
On Saturday, MyLady and I went into the country for a riding lesson with Sir Cowboy. Sir Cowboy called me a "half baked cake". He says I'm half baked because I'm 7 years old and am not a finished horse and MyLady has been dabbling with my training for 3 years. He says we need to turn up the heat and get me fully baked. MyLady has to raise the bar for both of us. She has to get brave and move beyond her comfort zone.
So on Saturday, we started out with groundwork in the big roundpen. I had to do a lot of trotting and loping. Then MyLady got onboard and we did exercises at the walk and trot (more trotting than walking). Sir Cowboy put two barrels in the roundpen with an orange cone on top of each barrel. He gave MyLady 3 rings. She was supposed to trot me around the barrels and place a ring over the cone, then switch rings and reins to the other hand and drop another ring over the next cone as we trotted around the 2nd barrel. Even at a standstill MyLady was all discombobulated trying to practice switching rings and reins between her hands, so Sir Cowboy took the rings away. We did the exercise without rings so MyLady could practice switching just the reins between hands and using her leg aids to move me around the barrels. It wasn't pretty to begin with, but we did pretty well. Then Sir Cowboy decided to raise the bar on us. He told MyLady to move me into a fast trot around the round pen and "kiss me into a lope".
A lope!!! MyLady has never asked me to lope before! And if you read her last post, you know she recently just loped on a school horse herself for the first time in 25 years. Sir Cowboy told her to be brave and trust me. He told her to put me into a lope for just 1/4 of the way around the roundpen, then pull me up to a stop and we'd talk about it. We trotted fast, and then moved into a lope for just a little bit and then MyLady asked me to "whoa." It went pretty well, but she was a little surprised because she felt something unexpected as we moved into a lope. She felt an extra hitch in my giddy-up, as she describes it. She turned to Sir Cowboy and asked, "DID SHE BUCK?!" I didn't really buck, but I did kick out a back leg. Sir Cowboy said it is not uncommon for a horse to do that the first time it lopes with a rider because it can be a bit of a surprise to us. (I had a Pro lope me under saddle once, over a year ago, but I haven't done anything like that since.) He told her to put me into a lope again. I didn't kick out this time because I knew what to expect. We stopped again to talk and think about it and I got lots of pats on my neck and was told I was a good girl. I was glad to rest and relax and catch my breath. Loping is hard work. The last time we loped we went 1/2 way around the roundpen before Sir Cowboy told us to stop. My Lady didn't want to stop, but she did because she is an obedient student. My lope felt really nice to her and she was enjoying herself. Sir Cowboy said that on that last lope, I was very relaxed, loping nicely, and that MyLady was perfectly in sync with me.
We rested for a few minutes so I could think about what I had just accomplished with MyLady on my back. Then Sir Cowboy had us end the lesson with some trotting exercises. He says it is good to end with an exercise I'm very confident with after having moved forward into a new challenge, like loping. Next week he plans to have us work up to loping 2 times around the round pen.
We have some homework to do this week. MyLady is to get more aggressive with our groundwork and has to make me lope in a roundpen or on a lunge line while she is directing me from the ground. Sir Cowboy could tell that MyLady has been stuck in her comfort zone and hasn't been asking me to lope during groundwork.
We also have to work on my stops. I'm pretty good at stopping, but Sir Cowboy wants me to come to a full stop more quickly when MyLady asks for a "whoa". He doesn't want me trotting for a few strides, then walking a few strides before coming to a stop. There is a difference between transitioning to slower gaits and a "whoa". I need to have a good "whoa" from any gait. He said that someday MyLady and I may need a good, solid stop and wouldn't it be better if I stopped sooner, rather than traveling several mores strides....right over a cliff? Then he told us this funny story:
One day a policeman pulled a motorist over for running a stop sign. The driver argued and said, "But officer, I slowed down!" The officer took out his billy club and started hitting the driver over the head. The driver yelled, "Stop! Stop!" The officer asked, "Do you want me to stop? Or do you want me to just slow down?"
Whoa means whoa, not slow down.
More Herd Dynamics
3 hours ago