Friday, August 29, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants - video of saddle pad work

Here's a video of Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) and I playing with a saddle pad. A couple of things to note. She doesn't like her ears being touched, so I took out of the equation me touching her ears directly. What I did do, though, was put the saddle pad on her head and neck and let it slide off her. I also put it on her back and let it slide back to her butt and then walked her around and let it fall off. I did this for a couple reasons - one, I wanted to see what her reaction would be; and two, I wanted her to get used to having "stuff" all over her body. I don't want her to think "only things on my back are okay" and instead I want her to accept whatever might come on her body (tarp, blanket, jacket, tree branch that she'll go through some day when we trail ride, etc.). She did find this a little bothersome at one point. Of course, when the saddle pad landed on the ground she wanted to go pick it up with her mouth. :-p

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants - video of flag work

I take Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) out and away from the barn area a couple times a week. Sometimes we walk down the ditch, sometimes we walk in the arena. I think I mentioned in one of my recent posts how we did some work in the arena with the surcingle and saddle pad.

Yesterday I set up my video camera outside of the arena to tape our schooling session. Here's a video of the flag work we did. She's very sensitive to it so I don't like to put a lot of "energy" into it while I'm working with the flag, but at the same time, I want it to fly around a bit and be a bit distracting. I want her to clue into my energy of when something just "is" versus when I'm giving direction for her to do something.

Video is such a great tool for training the rider/handler. After watching it a few times, I definitely see where I did some things wrong and what I should focus on to do better and better support/teach PFP for the next time.

Anyway, here's our flag work.

Trickery - it works!

Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) and Mac met over the fence the other night. I didn't mean for it to happen and they were both happily eating grass in their own pastures, but the gate to the bachelor pad from PFP's pasture was open and Paddy wandered in there and so she followed him. Mac came to the other side of the fence and much neck-arching and "hey baby" nickering ensued. It was pretty cute and more uneventful than I thought it might be, even though they seem like they have, ahem, chemistry.

I decided that when I started riding Mac again (which I did last week) that I'd put PFP out to graze with Paddy, because what can be more distracting to a Welsh cob filly than a pasture of green grass!?

The first day I got some whinnies as Mac and I were walking to the arena, and then one or two whinnies after we got there (she can't see the arena from the pasture). The next day it was one whinny as I was leading Mac away. The last time, it was zero whinnies!

Trickery works!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

New pictures!

Do you see a theme here?

Are all two-year-olds so mouthy?

Princess Fancy Pants is coming along nicely. I enjoy working with her and understanding how she learns - I find her to be very sensitive with a willing attitude. We continue to do work with the flag and have progressed to doing figure eights, which she caught on to right away. One thing that I thought was solved but wasn't was the fly spray issue.

Apparently, putting on fly spray while standing in the barn is okay. Putting on fly spray while standing in the pasture is NOT okay. I took my grooming box out one day and had her halter on for good measure and groomed her and then went to put fly spray on and she said No effin way! So I quit the fly spray attempt because we weren't getting anywhere because she kept blocking me and backing up and not letting me get to her side. So I got the flag and we did some flag work with getting her to follow a feel - if I open my hand to my left, you follow it and track left. That's all. It didn't take her long to respond to just a lifting of the flag - you really don't have to get loud with her, she tries and gets it right away. So we did that for a little bit - just signaling with the lead rope and a gentle lift of the flag and as soon as she'd move in the right direction I'd drop the flag. Then lots of praise and scratching with the flag and shooing flies with the flag and standing quietly to think while (I dropped the flag) getting more scratches all over.

Then it was time to go back to the fly spray. I got out a brush, stood next to her with the fly spray, sprayed the brush and then brushed it on her. I started at the neck, then did the front legs, then the back, and by the time I got to the belly and butt she'd let me spray her directly. Moved on to the other side and I could spray her directly there, too. Silly pony!

I've trimmed her feet, we went for a walk all the way down the ditch, and today I played with putting a saddle pad and lunging surcingle on her (not for the purpose of actual lunging, just to put something on her back and have her walk around with it on). I started in the grooming area by putting the pad on her back and letting her stand there and I'd rub her back over the pad.

Oh, and Mac was on the other side of the fence making googly eyes at her.

I decided that it would be best if we were in an enclosed area and away from the other horses so we went to the arena. I rubbed the pad all over her, tossed it at her, put it high on her neck, on her back, on her loin, on her butt. It was kind of windy, so it was perfect to put it on her, walk her around, let the wind pick it up and have it fall off and/or have it slide down her back toward her rump. She's trot away from it a bit but then stop and look at it. Of course she walked over to it and bit it and picked it up off the ground and walked around with it. Why won't she do that with the Jolly Ball I bought for her!?

So I put the surcingle on and walked a lap, stopped and scratched her all over. I tightened it one hole (not too tight, just snug enough to be stable), walked a lap leading her from each side (with stops for scratches after each lap) and called it a day. We came back to the tie area to untack and get her big reward.

Here's her big reward.

Princess Fancy Pants is hard to get a good picture of because 1) I'm trying to do them myself and she's very curious and wants to know what I'm up to so I mostly get extreme close-ups, 2) she's always trying to get her mouth on something, and 3) that something includes grass so I fear any pictures I get of her in the pasture will be with her head down!

But she's cute. Trust me.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kissy face . . . or not

Well this weekend I put Princess Fancy Pants together with Paddy in the pasture. (Side note: when you say Princess Fancy Pants out loud you have to say it in a fancy way.) And here's what happened.

Yawn. How boring. They are now friends but don't appear to be girlfriend-boyfriend. They enjoy each other's company and separate and come together as they wish.

I will tell you, though, that when I took PFP off the grass she had a little temper tantrum and ran up and down the fence line looking for a way to get through so she could get back to the pasture!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A jump and a nice walkabout

I thought I'd take Princess Fancy Pants out for a little outing every other day or so, and on alternate days I'll take one of the other horses out in order that they all know that coming and going is a normal thing and nothing to get in a tizzy about. Yesterday was PFP's day.

I took her to the trailer and gave her a nice grooming. I tied her up using the Blocker tie ring, just in case. I know she ties, but since she's new to me I think it best to just be careful and treat her as if she doesn't know anything. For those who don't know, this tie ring allows the lead rope to gradually feed through so that if a horse pulls back they don't scare themselves by hitting the end of the knot and feel trapped. She stood fine but was a bit fidgety as this is the first time I've tied her up and the trailer is up by the house for some maintenance work.

After I groomed her I took her to the arena and brought my flag along because I want her to get used to it and be so ho-hum about it by the time I start her that it is no big deal. And so far it hasn't been a big deal, but I haven't pushed it yet. I had a couple jumps set up with trot take-off poles and thought I'd just weave my way through them, walking between the trot pole and the jump itself. It is kind of a squeeze-type feeling and I've been doing a few things like that in preparation for trailer-loading training (I have her go past me to go into her stall and to go through the gate into the pasture). So at first I could tell she was a little wary of these things on each side of her but then we just weaved in and out and it was boring.

I decided then that we'd go through that same path but then make a turn and walk over a cavaletti. The first time she gave it a hard look but walked over. Then she walked over. Then she stopped and wanted to check it out by pawing at it. And it moved! So she JUMPED over it! It was actually pretty cute. So we did a few more walking-over-the-pole in each direction and called it quits when she did it non-chalantly.

We finished our outing by walking down the little trail that goes behind our house. It is probably 1/2 mile long or so and I use it for a cool-down after riding. This was her first little trail outing at my place and she was great! There's some water in the irrigation ditch next to the trail and she gave it a little sniff and realized that there was grass there and so that was appealing. We only went about 1/3 of the way because I didn't want to overdo it and I want her to look forward to our outings. There was only one holler from Mac when we first went back to the arena (and PFP didn't holler back) and when we got back he had already forgotten that she had left and was hanging out in the shade instead of standing by the gate.

One of these days I'll have to get Colin to take some pictures of us!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The honeymoon is over

At least for now . . . with the boys, that is! Princess Fancy Pants (that's what Colin is calling her!) and Paddy go out in adjoining pastures for breakfast, Paddy goes back up to the barn area with Mac for lunch, then Paddy goes in his stall/paddock and PFP goes up to the barn dry lot area for dinner, and Mac goes into one of the pastures. Got it?

Last night I noticed that PFP was kind of bugging Paddy when he was trying to eat and he said "um, no" and gave her a mild ear-pinning and get-away-from-me tail swish. Anything that gets between Paddy and his food won't make him happy - he's a pig! So I think the honeymoon is over for now - he's not so enamored and fascinated by the new girl in town and maybe now she's like a little sister whom you can hang out with and sometimes be annoyed by but you mostly get along okay. There's no drama, no tail flagging, no prancing around, just comfortable co-existing friendship, which is just fine by me!

Mac still hasn't met her over the fence yet, and he does spend some time looking at her, but not as intently as before. Maybe the novelty has worn off?

Annndddd . . . Princess Fancy Pants let me fly spray her today! The first day she was like, "hell no!" and so the next day I stood outside her stall with a spray bottle filled with water and sprayed it until she walked up to the stall window then I stopped. I did that a few times over the next couple days. Then after that I took the fly spray and the wiping mitten I got and I stood next to her and sprayed the mitten and wiped her down. She didn't seem bothered by the spraying near her, which was great. Today I did that same thing again and since she didn't seem bothered, I went ahead and sprayed her directly after I had already wiped her down with the spray. And whaddya know? She just stood there and didn't care!

She's such a great pony! Did I mention that already? ;-)

Monday, August 4, 2014

This pony is so good...

...and so smart! So I was saying in my last post that I introduced her to the flag and she was a bit looky toward it but we got it worked out. I took her out yesterday for a little walkabout and she was great with the flag!

It is really important to me to do whatever I can to prevent my horses from getting herd bound. To that end, I've been moving them around a lot. Pony went out by herself in the morning, got introduced to Paddy at lunch, by herself again at dinner, in the barn at night. That was the schedule the past couple days. Yesterday we went for a walkabout away from the barn and pastures, down the driveway, on the trail behind the house, into the arena, back to the driveway, back down the trail, into the pasture behind the house, out of the pasture, back down the trail to barn area. There was actually calling from the boys just a couple times, but no calling from the pony. At first she was a little nervous going down the trail, but she stayed right with me the whole way.

This morning I put her and Paddy out for breakfast (separate pastures, shared fence), then brought Paddy in for lunch with Mac. Then I put pony in a grass pasture while I took Mac down to the arena to see how she'd do when I took him away. She and Paddy called for him twice, he didn't respond, and all was quiet while we did a little ground work. I brought him back and put him in the grass pasture (separated from pony by The Bachelor Pad), did my chores, and then brought pony up to the barn. Paddy was in his stall/paddock because it was raining and he doesn't like the rain, and pony was in the dry lot surrounding the barn so she and Paddy could socialize over the fence but not be together.

Everyone is now happily munching hay in their stalls. So far the drama has been kept to a relative minimum, for which I'm grateful! But it is work to keep them away from each other enough that they don't get overly bonded, yet together enough that they get well socialized.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Afternoon update

Ok, so the meeting with Paddy and Dolly went well (see post below) at lunchtime. When I went out to feed dinner, though, they were making kissy faces at each other and Paddy was, well, showing what a manly man he was, if you catch my drift. Dolly didn't look like she was egging him on too much - no winking or squirting (sorry to be a bit graphic!), although she did put her butt near him so he could scratch it. To be fair, she likes it when I scratch her butt, too.

I interrupted the love fest to do a little ground work with her. I brought out my orange flag and she was interested but wary of it at the same time. She followed me as I dragged it on the ground behind me, but she also yielded away from it as I brought it up and directed her energy to move around (just walking, no crazy pony chasing). She's very good with her responsiveness and is easy to work with. I stood and petted her while holding the flag close to her nose so she could smell it and put it in her mouth and just have it waving in the wind a bit in front of her. Then I touched her back with it and she tensed up but didn't make any moves to get out of dodge. This was all at liberty. I then put her halter on and stood a few feet away from her and in front of her, and just circled the flag from my left side to my right side repeatedly. I didn't put any energy into it, I just was moving it. And she just stood there, which is what I wanted. She was a little tense, but again she didn't do anything. As soon as she gave me a lick/chew, I stopped. We repeated that a couple times.

Then I took the cotton lead rope of her halter and swung it over her back a few times, just letting it land on her. Next I swung it over her back and caught it around her belly like a girth and gave it a little tightening sort of feeling. Then I moved it back toward her flank and did the same thing. Then I circled the rope around each leg, just swinging and letting it catch the leg. Then I took each end of the rope and sort of shimmied it up and down each leg, ending around the fetlock and gently pulled until she gave to the pressure and lifted her leg. She was a great pony all around for all of that work and stood very quietly while Paddy watched. I gave her scratches all over, and especially at her belly button, which she loves, and went up to the barn.

Colin brought the tractor up to the barn to help me with Dolly's stall mat, because this morning when I went out to feed, one of the stall mats was outside! And not just outside like draped over the doorjamb or anything. It was OUTSIDE. Outside across the doorjamb, across her little patio, and in the dirt. And her stall didn't even look like anything had happened - there were shavings where the stall mat had been! It was like one of those things where you see someone pull a tablecloth off a table and leave all the place settings in situ!

Here's the inside of the stall.

And from outside the stall. You can see the doorway of the stall, the "patio" and where the mat ended up. I have no idea how she did that!

Paddy and D'Lite meet!

I decided today would be The Big Day. D'Lite-DeeDee-Dahlia-Dolly hasn't shown any signs of being sick, and since it is the weekend and I have more time during the day I thought I'd let her and Paddy meet over the fenceline.

I had to do some creative horse moving first. I had put Paddy and Mac out in the Bachelor Pad and opened up the tape gate to The Strip for breakfast. (Side note - everything on our property has a name. On one side of the driveway are three pastures separated by tape fencing. The two end pastures are irrigated; the middle one is dry lot but has some dead grass in it. The left pasture is The Strip. The middle dry lot pasture is The Bachelor Pad. The right pasture is The Upper Pasture. There is a tape gate on each side of The Bachelor Pad that goes to each of the neighboring pastures - I can open them all up, close them all down, or have one opened and another closed.) Dolly (as I'm calling her today) was up in The Barn Pasture (dry lot) for breakfast. Everyone was calm and happy this morning.

In order to get Dolly to The Bachelor Pad, where she could meet Paddy over the fence, without having her meet Mac over the fenceline, I had to close the tape gate between The Strip and The Bachelor Pad first, then put her in The Upper Pasture and then move Mac up to The Barn Pasture so that Paddy would be in The Strip by himself. This is her first time on the irrigated pasture.

Once I moved her there and moved Mac, Paddy started running around like a lunatic, which he will sometimes do. Even though Mac isn't nice to him, they've been spending a lot of time together lately, so Paddy was upset. You might think it was because of the hot little filly, but it wasn't. Mac didn't care one bit and found his lunch hay and was happy.

So while Paddy was running around in The Strip, Dolly was prancing around for a bit in The Upper Pasture. I wanted them to meet over the fence and I wanted Dolly off the grass since she's not accustomed to it. She was there probably less than 5 minutes, but clearly loved it because when I first opened the gate (there's a tape gate from The Bachelor pad to each pasture next to it) for her to go in The Bachelor Pad, she trotted in, realized there was no grass, and trotted back out to graze! So I went and got her, brought her to The Bachelor Pad, closed the gate to The Upper Pasture and let her and Paddy meet.

It was so uneventful it was boring. Oh well. I think that's a good thing, actually. I'll likely do this configuration for another week before I actually put them together. It makes things a lot easier if I know there won't be fighting over the fenceline and everyone can be calm and carry on.