Wednesday, February 29, 2012
It is very rainy this morning so I am procrastinating going to the barn and doing a blog entry. Dinah continues to improve and we had several big achievements yesterday. The first one was that when I arrived she had a bog solid poop in her pen! Don't worry, I will post a photo. When I went back later in the day she had three! The barn has switched from oat hay to something that is much more green and looks like orchard grass, and I think it is agreeing with her much better. She is also still on the probiotics, so that is probably helping as well. I got to the barn pretty early yesterday and got Dinah all tacked up and took her to the round pen. I longed her each way and her focus is getting better and better. She is keeping her inner ear on me, which is a sign she is focusing on me, and not everything else. A horses ears are a indication of the direction they are looking or where their attention is. When working with a horse, you want their attention on you, not everywhere else. After the longing session Darby brought the mounting block(thing you stand on to get on) into the arena and we let her get used to that and practiced standing next to it. Then I stood on the mounting block and moved around above her so she could get used to that. Next I pulled on the stirrups with my hands and jiggled the saddle around on her back. Then I put my foot in the stirrup and stood halfway up on her back, petting her and praising her. Then Darby longed her a bit more just so she didn't feel trapped. Then we brought her back to the block and I put one foot in the stirrup and brought my other foot over her hind end and moved it around. Next I went all the way over and sat on her back!! Again, lots of praise. She was very aware of what I was doing but didn't seem panicked. We did this about three times from each side and then took her tack off and let her graze. Darby was a great handler, it is very important to have a capable horse person helping you the first time you back a horse to make sure it is a positive experience. In the afternoon I went back to try long lining her. Long lining is like double longing, where you have a longe line attached to each side of the bit running through rings on a circingle and then coming back to the handler. Its a bit hard to explain but imagine normal longing with an extra longe line on the outside of the horse running down the side and behind the haunches. She was a bit panicked because there were a lot of ropes on her and that can be scary for a horse. Two times she ran off and I had to let go of the ropes. Sometimes you have to do that to show the horse the ropes are not going to eat them. If you try to hold on, the horse will feel trapped and panic, so it is better to just let go. So once she got over the ropes, I started longing her around. I was using a heavy cotton rope and I discovered why people use driving lines. The cotton rope was too heavy and it was too much pressure on her mouth. Driving lines are thinner and lighter, so I will try to use those next time. The purpose of longlining is to teach the horse how to turn and stop before you get on their back. It is also called ground driving. Basically you are just trying to teach the horse to give to pressure. I taught her to turn around in the long lines, after a few times of running into the fence, she got it. She is so smart and it only takes one time for her to get it. It is cold and rainy today so probably no riding, but weather permitting I will try to get on her again tomorrow. Happy trails!!