Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Learning is not linear

Princess Fancy Pants has been making great progress in our lessons with the trainer. I try to combine all sorts of other lessons when I work with her on my own - trailering, bathing, standing tied, being good for trims, etc. - in addition to my homework from the trainer. The last time I did my homework I saddled PFP and did some trot poles and some light lunging, but I didn't do too much in the way of long-lining.

We had a lesson on Sunday and I asked trainer if we could long-line PFP on the trails on my property. I've hand-walked her back there many times so she knows the area, but I thought it would be good to have a "lead" person and a long-lining person just to be safe. So I was the lead and trainer did the long-lining. After one pass on the long straightaway, we took her off the lead but I continued to walk with her. Then I fell behind and pony was in the lead all by herself. She did great! She was so brave and marched right on forward. We did a lap of the loop in each direction and then went to the outside arena. Trainer did some serpentines and turns down centerline and pony was perfect. So she handed the reins to me.


Ok, well not total disaster, just not good. I couldn't steer worth a damn and poor pony was probably getting really confused. It was all I could do to go straight! We finally went in a couple straight lines and halted and called it quits. Her quarter was running out and I was worried that I was just making matters worse.

Over the weekend I worked on the footing in the indoor so it is much more even and less deep and I think pony will like it much better.

Today I did my homework. Ugh. I decided to attach the long lines to the lunging cavesson instead of the bit because if I sucked at it today then I don't want to be in her mouth confusing her. We did a very nice warm up - just two baby shoulder-fores in each direction for a few steps down the long side, then a light lunge doing some straight-aways and then circling so that we used the whole arena, then some with me standing in one spot and doing transitions. It was lovely and soft and nice and easy.

Then I attached the other line so we could do some double-lunging and long-lining. I started off double-lunging to the left. It was really good! Just a few big circles and we stopped and then did some long-lining. Ugh. Again I can't steer for shit! WTH? I think I'm over-doing it on the turns so instead of a turn down centerline, she'd do a circle. We just got all discombobulated and it wasn't pretty. So then we went back to double-lunging in the other direction and it was great again!

I had been afraid of double-lunging because it seems so, well, complicated with two lines and keeping them untangled and using them properly, etc. But today the double-lunging was the easy part and the long-lining (which I had been feeling good about) was the hard part!

So true that learning isn't linear. I thought I had been doing well in one thing and not another and when I went to practice, the thing I thought I was doing well totally sucked and the thing I thought I'd suck at I did well! Go figure!

Pony seemed to like the footing improvements better. She is doing really well when the trainer works with her, so I'm glad I got a pro on board to help me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Trailering success!

Yesterday we had great improvement with the trailering!

I figured I could take Paddy with her, but then decided that the sooner she learns to go by herself, the better. I don't want her to get attached to him and then have to go through all this all over again when she travels solo, so we just went solo.

I took out the head divider so she has a wider range of vision and nothing to bump her face into if she started flinging it around for some reason (which I'm not sure she does, but just to be safe).

I groomed her first, we went for a nice hand walk on the trails, then loaded up. I tell you, this pony is so smart and good. She loaded right up. She walks on the trailer with NO hesitation. So we loaded up and backed out a few times, just to practice putting her feet where I ask her to. Then we loaded up and I put the butt bar up and then went up front to give her a cookie. Then I went back and put the other butt bar up and went up front to give her a cookie. Then I closed her back door and went up to give her a cookie. Then I closed the other back door and went up to give her a cookie. Then I closed the ramp up and went up to give her a cookie. Then I tied her, gave her a cookie, and got in.

And she started pawing.

And I just drove quietly down the driveway and by the time I was at the road she stopped pawing. She gave a whinny as we turned on to the street, then she was quiet. She did whinny at each turn (4 whinnies), but NO MORE PAWING!!!! We took the same 10-minute loop and came home and unloaded. She wasn't lathered in sweat. YAY!!!!! We unloaded and reloaded a few times, then I took her out, gave her a little bath, and put her in the pasture for lunch.

I call that a huge success and I was SO PROUD of her!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trailer adventures

Now that we're settled, I've FINALLY gotten my trailer hooked up again. Princess Fancy Pants took a little spin around the block yesterday. She loads really well. She travels . . . not so really well. I am a very conservative and good trailer driver - I maintain an even speed, am very aware of what is going on around me, I don't slam on the brakes or accelerate quickly. But that doesn't seem to matter to PFP. She paws and whinnies and gets very anxious leaving her boyfriends. We only went for a ride around the block (10 minute drive) so we weren't gone for that long. She did some intermittent pawing and whinnying, but also had some moments of quiet, so I feel like there's hope. I have considered trailering her with Paddy (her brother-type friend) or Mac (her boyfriend), but Paddy paws when close to home and that's not a behavior I want to reinforce, and she and Mac are just too amorous and I don't want to go there in close quarters. I'm hoping it is just one of those things that, with multiple mini-outings per week that always return to home, she'll get over with maturity and practice.

The good news is that after we got home and unloaded, I re-loaded her a few more times in and out so she wouldn't think she could have a hissy fit and then get to come home and go out as her reward. So in and out she went, standing quietly and then backing when I gave her the cue. I'm pleased about that.

We've also continued our homework and have started double-lunging in our lessons, which she's picked up on just as easily as everything else. She's a special and fancy little pony!