Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring in the Northwest

It's here! I have bulbs coming up in my garden, my lawn already needs to be mowed, the frogs are frantically serenading each other and the weather can't decide if it wants to rain/snow/hail/be sunny. Oh, and the horses are shedding madly. Yep, it's spring alright.

Yesterday was one of the nicer days of the entire week. It rained a bit and was cloudy with some beautiful sunbreaks. Still not getting above 50, but that's better than being down in the 30's. It had rained most of the week and I didn't feel like fighting Ketah and the mud (either of which alone is bad enough) so thought I'd do some training.

I brought Sati out and brushed her. We're still working on letting me brush the backs of her hind legs but she's getting better. She's also just on grass hay now and not making such a mess of herself (despite passionate affirmations to the contrary, alfalfa is not really that great). I also picked up all four feet. She still wants to be a putz about the hind feet, but not nearly so much. It's not a fight anymore, I just pay close attention because she may decide to dance and fall down.

This day I put all of her tack on, grabbed the long lines and headed for the round pen. Aside from not making the same mistake twice, there was another horse in the arena who is poorly trained and several young girls who have gotten dragged by him before. I prefer not to take silly chances with my young one. After a few circles without lines, and some bucking and kicking I asked her to whoa. That lesson she does very well. I put the lines on her and we started doing some circles at the walk. This is all about learning how to handle the bit. I know it was confusing the first couple circles. Towards the end of the lesson she was walking the circle and changing direction relatively well. She has a tendency right now to get confused and stop when I ask her to go in a specific direction, especially if she really wanted to go the other way. Despite that we did 10 or 15 minutes of this, then I let her off the lines and reminded her of her basic manners. Which did involve a lesson in not stopping at the fence nearest Ketah or kicking in my general direction when I asked her to move...Afterwards I made her stand, tied while I worked Ketah in the arena for a bit. That drives her nuts, she was sweaty by the time we finished.

Today was threatening to storm all day. Dark clouds and wind. However, by 3:00 it still hadn't rained and I didn't feel like working anymore so I thought I could do a new lesson with the young one. A very important lesson for a would-be trail horse. Going out alone. Horses are, by nature, herd animals and they are prey as well. This means that instinctually they seek safety in other horses. One of the things we humans require of our domesticated horses, is to learn to be alone. They should depend on just themselves and their rider on the trail.

Thus far Sati has been away from the barn only when I pony her from Ketah. So she has always had a calm, older horse to make her feel safe. This time I asked her to walk by herself, on a slighty stormy looking day with quite a bit of wind (waiting for perfect weather is pointless here). We didn't get very far really. Down the long driveway and maybe two blocks through the neighborhood. Everything was a little scary, horse running at the fence to see her, a fence making noise in the wind, a car driving by. She wasn't perfect by any stretch. There was quite a bit of dancing and balking. But I remember Ketah at this age. If anything Sati was relying on me more, which is great.

I had planned on doing a loop that she's been on with Ketah before. But with her being slightly freaked out and this being her first time, we turned around and went back. Dancing and balking the whole way. But she was trying very hard to listen to me. She gets lots of points for that.

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