Saturday, August 16, 2003


Not a lot of horsin' around today; was supposed to ride with Jennifer but she had to take her cat to the vet so she rainchecked. We'll try again tomorrow. Meantime, I watched the very beginning of the Level Two Harmony Online video. There is going to be a TON to learn. I am a bit overwhelmed; yet I know I just need to approach it one step, one task, at a time and it will all fall into place.

Went out to the barn around 4:30. Nic was there, braiding Doc's mane so it won't dreadlock while Julie's on vacation. We groomed him a bit (he still has winter hair in some spots) then decided to ride. Naturally, by the time I brought WF in and had her gamed up, then saddled up, we got about as far as the mare's pasture and the wind picked up, the rain started, and all the other mares shot into the arena as fast as they could. Hmm. The mares hate to come in... must be a nice storm brewing.

So we escaped into the clubhouse with Bruce when he showed up. (Note: the "clubhouse" is a small structure with nothing in it. It hasn't been used in years, but Erin the barn manager decided it was high time it got used so she's been cleaning it up. It was cozy to sit at the card table. We were looking at website output on all the state parks with bridle trails in Ohio and trying to plan camping trips. The storm passed—I think there was one roll of thunder—and after the horses came in for dinner, we saddled up and tried again. Turned out to be a nice little jaunt down the "D". Lots of deer, so lots of deerspooking, LOL. Barely got home before dark. Got a little chilly but not too bad, damp spring chilly with the lovely clean afterscent of rain on pine.

It is definitely starting to sink in with me and with WF. She is beginning to show signs of respect in the field when I go out to collect her. Right after the clinic, she was balky. She'd lay her ears back, walk off, sometimes trot off. We'd play Catch Me. She'd give me a hard time when I went to put on the halter, pulling her head away or down to eat. "Screw you," she said, "I'm grazing. Leave me alone." When I finally got her haltered, she'd refuse to budge until we got to the creek crossing, which is always treacherous in spring (very mucky and sloppy and mares are known for dragging their owners through it), and she'd suddenly circle around me, invade my space, go off in another direction and yank me (I knew it was coming so I was braced, not gonna catch ME off guard and drag me, no way), or I'd cross and she'd be on the other side, refusing to budge, threatening to pull back and pull me over (I was teetering and she knew it).

Well, things have changed. She grazes, but doesn't run off. She ignores me until I ask for attention by either disengaging her HQ or marching in place by her nose to bring up her head. Once it's up, and she sees the halter, she stops. She sighs. I halter her, she gives her nose. She sighs again. I play a few games with her, Friendly then Porcupine, then Driving, then Back Up/Yo-Yo, then I Circle her both ways. By then, she's like, OK, fine, let's go. If she's energetic, I just Funky Chicken. If she drags, I Circle her as I walk, changing directions until she figures it's easier just to walk beside me at a nice pace. I always take her for a drink, then we go in.

Her respect level has heightened and I am thrilled. I am more relaxed now.

Last night, Nic and I met up in the evening. We just chatted for a while about PNH and our fellow students, then I collected WF from her stall (she had just been grained) and Nic watched us game and gave me detail pointers to tighten up. Things went really well. Nic found humor in how hard it was to keep WF's two eyes on her—I didn't feel so bad after that, b/c she does the same thing to me and every time she's bumped back, she glares at the human, then goes back to looking where she wants to. Bump, glare, look. Bump, glare, look. It's not an evil glare, it's more of annoyed. It's really funny to see how annoyed she gets when we "distract" her.

In the bareback pad, we worked on Fig 8's at a walk. I worked on tossing my rein back and forth over her head. What a pain that is! So hard to get. Easier in the halter b/c of the weight of the clasp; in the hack it's like throwing thread. ARRRGH!!! Now, doing that, plus staying put, plus maintaining gait... am I that coordinated? Well, it was a start. Nic did Passenger Lessons with me online, and we tried to get WF into a canter but I preferred clockwise and she wouldn't go into the canter. Granted, I was a bit anxious but I wanted to do it—I knew once we got going, I'd be past the anxiety. Instead, she just sped up her trot to the fastest trot I've seen! Man, put a cart on that horse, we're gonna win at Raceway Park!!! Nic got on her and discovered WF isn't confident taking her right lead at the canter; so my job is to send her out at Liberty a few sessions on the right lead until she gains confidence.

Once while trotting, Nic was asking her to speed up, and WF misread the cue and whipped her HQ around 90 degrees to disengage. I moved with her as if I was part of her. Nic gave me big bonus points for that b/c sticking a fast disengagement bareback is harder than riding the canter bareback. That was a relief to me to know that.

Not much else to report... have yet to have the third session with Cheerios, but he did come right up to me today.

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