Sunday, July 26, 2015

Princess Fancy Pants long lines!

I've been working with a trainer now that I'm ready to get Princess Fancy Pants more prepared for starting her under saddle work (which will still be months away). I wanted to get her started on the long lines (she knows how to lunge) and I've never actually done any long lining myself, so we both needed some lessons!

Trainer has come out three times now to work with us and I think that Princess Fancy Pants is learning very quickly! I'm doing okay, myself. ;-) The first time I took the lines, it was very ugly - wiggling all over the place, couldn't go straight, couldn't move over. Trainer did a very good job (and PFP did a very good job of learning) of teaching PFP what the aids mean; for example, sort of bumping both sides with the lines (and a cluck with voice command) means go forward. A bump with one line means move away from that side. Then there's the whoa voice command and hand aids. She's very good at whoa, so there wasn't much learning to do there. Once she seemed to get it, I got to take the reins and give it a go. Like I said, the first time was ugly, second time was better, and now I've done my homework a few times now and think we're getting the hang of it.

We just walk and turn and stop and go and circle and that's about it. The video isn't very exciting to watch, but it is exciting to me because of the progress we're making.

Princess Fancy Pants seems to have a great work ethic (I think I've said that already). She's ready for whatever we do together and she always tries to figure out what I want. I think our next step is double lunging. I already am daydreaming about what we'll do together in the future - dressage? Jumping? Trail riding? All of it, I hope!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Princess Fancy Pants goes to work!

I can't believe it has been so long since I've posted. We're still not settled in our new place yet. Floors are finally done, doors are installed, but it still isn't "finished," as the baseboards and door trims aren't done. We still have some furniture in the garage, that I was hoping to move in this weekend, but baseboards moved his appointment to Wednesday. Sigh.

Anyway, this is about Princess Fancy Pants.

I've continued to do small things with her on a regular basis. The most recent things we've done are drag a stick next to and behind her with a rope, and go for walks off the property. I was curious as to how she'd handle walking off the property, down the road, and into the nearby trails. It was no big deal. I was really impressed with her and proud of her!

Oh, I almost forgot something really interesting!

When I got her I wanted to be sure I was feeding her properly as a growing 2-year-old. I consulted with an equine nutritionist who suggested I add Nutrena Empower Balance (ration balancer) to her diet. So I did. She had been getting more and more fidgety, not her sweet self, constantly in heat, just generally on edge and not the nice sweet pony she was when I first got her. After doing a bit of research, I found that the Nutrena has soy in it and some horses are reactive to soy. I took her off of it and within a few days she was back to her sweet, easy-going self. She's much happier and more pleasant to be around now.

I got a couple recommendations for trainers to help me start her and went and met with one a few weeks ago. When I was there I watched a lesson with one of her students who was on a TB mare who had been a rescue and this trainer (and her student) started her. The mare had the potential to be a hot little firecracker, but was handled patiently and with tact and went along very nicely. Bonus points is that the person is close to me and makes farm calls.

I had the trainer out yesterday and we worked with PFP on lunging with the plan of working toward ground driving. After a short lunging session she put the driving lines on and stood behind her while I led her from the front. We did a couple laps in each direction with transitions and a change of rein across the diagonal. PFP was so good! Then she did a little work on moving off of what would be leg pressure eventually and PFP caught on to that very quickly. A little baby lateral work in-hand and she was done. She was VERY good and learns very quickly and seemed to really like the attention and work! I think that the preparation work we did so far was helpful - working with lines around her belly, flank, behind her legs, around her feet, etc. - so that she wasn't startled by the long lines. She was not very reactive to the lunge whip, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your intentions, but overall she was a super star!

I'll probably work with the trainer two days per week, and then do my own homework one day a week and a trail walk one day a week. I'm so proud of my little pony!

Maybe next time I'll get some pictures or video...