Saturday, September 27, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants video!

I had a great day with Princess Fancy Pants today! First I put her in the cross ties and groomed her and did her feet just a bit. I'm trying to work with them a few days a week so she'll be good for the farrier. Today was a good day. She likes the grooming attention and is very well-behaved in the cross ties.

Then we went out to the arena for a little play time. I almost never turn my horses out in the arena because they have pastures to run around in, but I thought it would be good for her to explore it on her own and check out any scary parts (the far long side diagonal from the corner closest to the house seems to be the scary place). She started by just eating the grass that grows on the other side of the kick boards. Then she went and pooped in the corner. Then she took off from a stand still and came galloping toward me and had a fun little runaround, which I got video of on my phone.

After that, I put her halter on, did a little leading exercise, and called it a day. Both Paddy and Mac called to her a couple times, but she didn't call back. She did stop and look over the fence in their direction, but was otherwise not a hollaback pony.

She's so friendly. When I go up to feed, and if I'm working in/around the barn while they are eating, she'll leave a pile of hay to come see what I'm doing. Curious little PFP!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trailering Princess Fancy Pants

Since Princess Fancy Pants loaded so well on the trailer, I thought I'd take her for a little spin to the park-and-ride that has nice turnaround area to come back home. It is 2.5 miles away, so a 5-mile out-and-back ride. PFP was not happy! She was stomping in the trailer and calling out to her boyfriends when we left, which I thought would be the case, but she stomped most of the way down and back as well! Hmph! When I unloaded her she had stomped herself into a lathered sweat and was obviously agitated, so when I unloaded her we just stood around in the driveway to calm down a bit before turning her out. She had a nice roll in the mud to address the itchies and then hung out with Paddy as if nothing happened. This was last week.

I was worried that she wouldn't want to load again and so developed a different plan. Yesterday I got Paddy out, groomed him (which PFP was not pleased about because she couldn't see him and I could hear her petite little hooves thundering as cantered around - she has a lovely canter which I look forward to riding some day!) and loaded him up. Then I got PFP, brought her to the trailer and loaded her up. She went right on to the right-side slot - that was new for her because I've heretofore been loading her solo in the left slot and when I do that the divider is moved over to the right so she's got a nice wide space to walk into. Since Paddy was already in, the right slot was as narrow as it would be for trailering, but she walked on anyway. Good pony!

I had put some alfalfa in her hay bag and Paddy had grass hay in his side and I considered maybe going for a drive, but decided against it. I put the butt bars up and tied their lead ropes up, but left the back doors open so I could stand on the ramp and talk to them and watch what was going on. At first she was agitated (the bugs really seem to bother her so she was stomping at that) and was stomping at flies and backing her butt up to the bar. But since Paddy was pretty calm about it all, she decided it wasn't so bad and ate her hay. I thought that it would be best to just have them have a little snack in there for five minutes and skip the ride.

After five minutes I tried to unload her first and I put the butt bar down, but she decided that an alfalfa snack is a very good treat indeed and didn't want to back out! So I unloaded Paddy first and then unloaded her. I tied them both up to the trailer (first time she's been tied up with anyone else to my trailer) and groomed PFP while they both stood there. She was a bit sweaty but not dripping like before.

I think my game plan will be to mix it up a bit. One day just do loading and unloading. Another day load and stand with a snack (increasing the time period). Another day load with Paddy and have a snack. Another day load and unload again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I want her to be good about the trailer and I think that getting her calm about it, like it is just another thing, is the way to do that. So far she's really good about getting on, so that's half the battle!

Ideally I'd eventually like her and Mac to trailer together since I'll likely be ponying her off of him . . . IF, that is, they can get over their googly-eyes for each other! Why is it that Paddy has no game and Mac does? I've let them meet over the fence a couple more times. Once it was exciting for about 30 seconds then Mac went to graze. The next time much butt-presenting and squirting ensued. I guess that's a mare in season?!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The latest

Let's see, what's going on with Princess Fancy Pants?

She's self-loaded onto the trailer twice now! Those were the second and third times I've worked on trailer loading with her. Maybe next time we'll go for a short spin.

She's had baths a couple days this week since it has been so hot. She's not a huge fan of baths, but she's getting better. Fly spraying is getting better, too.

She's getting better about having her ears touched.

I've taken Mac out and left her and Paddy in separate pastures and while she called a little bit at first, she settled down. I was using Paddy as a babysitter and she does well when they're together, so I thought it time to change it up a bit and see if she can put her big girl panties on and she did a fine job.

She's got runny eyes so I think I'll drive her over to the vet's so he can check her out - her first adventure away from home!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Video of Princess Fancy Pants and Mac meeting over the fence

Today I took Mac for a trail ride and when we got home I put him in his pasture. The gate was open between Paddy's pasture and PFP's pasture so that they could be together when I left with Mac. PFP's pasture is next to Mac's pasture. I'll spare you the details, except to say that my system for moving them around is complex enough that they never share a fence line.

PFP was happy to see Mac when he came back and trotted into her pasture from Paddy's pasture. Mac had a good roll, then they met over the fence. Paddy had to get into the mix a little bit also, but it was fairly uneventful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Trailer loading 101

Following on yesterday's lesson (to myself!) of quitting while you're ahead, I decided there's no time like the present and today I'd work on trailer loading with the goal of quitting while I was ahead.

Obviously, Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) has loaded on a trailer because I got her home. And before I got her, the seller had loaded her and taken her on little trips with her sister. But I wanted to try loading her without another horse on board and with no agenda of her actually getting ON the trailer and standing, I was just going for getting feet on the ramp and backing off the ramp quietly.

I brought my flag with me but decided to use treats as a motivation to start. I loaded up a fanny pack with carrots and cookies and put a bucket of carrots and cookies in the hay manger. I also had my clicker with me.

I started by introducing her to the clicker and linking it with a carrot when she touched the shaft of the flag. That went pretty quickly - I just wanted her to associate the click with a reward and not to associate mugging me with getting a click and/or reward.

We walked up to the trailer and she stood there looking in. As soon as she put a foot up on the ramp I clicked and gave her a carrot. It didn't take her even a minute to realize what was going on and we had both front feet on the ramp. I'd get front feet on and quietly back off, and then feet on and quietly back off again. Then I asked for all four feet (by putting pressure on the lead rope and releasing pressure and clicking/treating) to come on the ramp. Good. On/off/on/off we went. This was maybe another minute or two.

She exceeded my expectations and when I'd back her off and turn her away from the trailer, she acted like she wanted to do some more so we did. This time I wanted front feet in the trailer, back feet on the ramp. Good. On/off/on/off we went. She got a treat for coming on, and "good girl" and scratches for coming off. The goal was for it to be quiet and drama-free.

Finally we got all four feet in the trailer! Wow! She was so calm about it! I thought I'd give her the big reward of a cookie. She took it and ate it and then did the flehmen response to it (curl upper lip up, lift head, breathe deeply to get a good whiff). Backed her off quietly. Came on again with all four feet and I was so proud of her I offered her another cookie. But she didn't want it! Seems she only likes carrots, so I gave her a couple little pieces. Did it a couple more times and called it a day. It was a nice, quiet, short session and she did more than I would have expected her to. When she got on she stood quietly for treats and scratches. Even with Mac calling a couple times and my neighbor trenching next door she was attentive and as focused as a 2-year-old can be.

I'll do this a few times to get her comfortable in the trailer, then I'll work on the self-loading aspect of it.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Princess Fancy Pants video - surcingle

Here's a video of Princess Fancy Pants (PFP) working in the surcingle.

We mostly just walked around and walked over some ground poles, nothing too exciting.

Today we worked on looping the free end of the lead rope through the loop on the rope halter (so like I had reins) and walking around the arena once in each direction with some halt transitions. She was very good!

Her quarter runs out pretty fast, though, so I need to remember to quit while I'm ahead. I get all eager to try something else because she learns so fast and does so well and then she just needs a time out. Next time I'll only do one or two things instead of trying three or four. Ending on a good note is important, so even if it isn't a better note than her best thing, it is better than the worst thing, if that makes sense. And she always gets her grazing reward after!

Some good news is that I took Mac for trail rides this weekend and Colin stayed home and reported in that she did just fine while I was gone - no hissy fits because her boyfriend left. And today when I took her in the arena, the other horses didn't call for her, either!