My Birthday

I haven't been working very much with the horses recently. The weather started getting colder and it's harder for me to work with Ruby in the rain (especially riding). I've also been busy with daily stuff and my birthday which was on October 23 along with my twin brother Nicholas. We're finally 15 now! I'm very excited about the presents my family and friends got me! I can never think of anything I want when it comes to my birthday but this time. I had my eyes on Clinton Anderson stuff. I got a Clinton Anderson cowboy hat which unfortunately was a little too small but I'll be able to return that one for a size up. I got a Clinton Anderson vest and hoodie that are so cool!!! I'll be able to wear that all winter! Here is a picture of me (without the hoodie though). I do have my Clinton Anderson halter and lunge line:

Besides that I got a lot of edible gifts from friends and we had two different days of soccer which we played till the lights were turned off. :D

Finding Surprises and Solving the Problem

In my last post I said I was having trouble backing Ruby. I went down to muck the paddock and clean the trough and had a little time left over to play around with the horses. I brushed and combed Ruby and Sugar and then took out the stick and string. I used the stick and string to back up both of the horses. Sugar, of course, did a great job but Ruby wasn't any better. I worked a little with her and had to make the level of pressure higher on her until she moved. I think it was because I was afraid of scaring her if I got the pressure higher and she found out I was so she became disrespectful. This time though I took it a few steps further and surprised her that I was really able to get rough with her if she doesn't listen to me. In fact after that she started responding faster! I hope I'll be tough enough to do it when we're outside the paddock. I think I feel worried not wanting anything to go wrong and then mess up showing Ruby loopholes where she can boss me around. 

For some reason I pointed her off as if to lunge her but of course I was in a wide rectangle shaped paddock with her off lead so she could run off if she chose to. But she surprised me! She trotted a circle around me as if I had a invisible lunge line or she was following the fence line of the round pen. I just went along with it very pleased and wasn't sure how she'd react if I tried changing her direction. She tried coming to me without me asking, like she did in the round pen and I was afraid she'd go to her bossy pushy self again. I asked her to back up and she did and then I pointed her off again without any problem. I was only able to do this a very short time because my time ran out. It was also dark the whole time I got her to lunge for me so I thought it would be harder for her to see my body language. 

But I was very impressed with her that night! And hopefully I'll see what she does again if I lunge her freely today. :D

From Terrible to Show Off

Yesterday my grandpa came down to watch me ride and show him different exercises of the Clinton Anderson Method. I gave myself an hour to get Ruby ready and mostly have time to lunge her before riding. It took awhile to get her to the round pen; in fact it was pretty bad. I feel like I'm getting stuck a lot on what to do. Every time she gets her 'sticky feet' I either back her up or try the C pattern. But now I can barely back her up that day. When I tried, she would shake her head and it takes a lot of effort to get her to take a few steps back. I've also noticed she gets mad and even takes a few steps forward. I feel very bad that I can't fix this, and hopefully can watch the DVDs more to find answers to the problem. When I try the C Pattern she starts making it a bad habit of turning to face me and pinning her ears back. 

When I did finally get her to the round pen I saddled her. I left her training halter on without the bridle and started the lunging. At first it was going well, in fact a little better start off then I expected of her. In a previous day she nosed the ground lay down to roll. I had to get her back up because she had her saddle on and she wasn't too happy about that. This time she started nosing the ground but I kept her moving so she couldn't stop to lay down. For the first part she kept trying to nose the ground to find a good place to roll but I kept her moving and changing directions. She soon forgot but not long after I had another problem. When I changed her directions she was turned to face me and stop. If I try to point her back and keep her lunging she actually comes forward into my face trying to move me! Only once she struck a little which made me take a step back in surprise but I guess I started getting mad because I made her back up and didn't stop until she was touching the fence. I did start with a little pressure at first to warn her but I had to increase it. When I had her backed all the way I pointed her off and this time she obeyed. Unfortunately she did it two more times and I had to back her all the way before I could start again. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong and why Ruby is behaving badly. I do notice that she keeps cutting the circle and sometimes almost completely in half where she gets too close to me. When that happens she even goes right up to the fence and stop with her hindquarters in my direction and then when I want her to move she chooses the opposite direction I wanted her to go. This is signs of showing a lot of disrespect to me, I just need more knowledge in what to do before they become bad habits or I end up getting hurt. 

When my grandpa came down I ended her lunging and put her bridle on for riding. I thought today was going to be a bad time for me with Ruby acting up that day when I'm trying to show off Ruby to my Grandpa. I've also noticed it's getting bit by bit a little hard for me to put her bridle on. But I thinks it's because I'm not having her head low for me like Sarah taught me and Ruby's getting worse about it. But that's not as bad as it sounds. I remember Raleigh being the hardest horse for me to put the bit in his mouth. 

I expected Ruby to be as bad as when she was on the ground to be the same in the saddle. Nothing of the kind! She did great! As soon as I got in the saddle she didn't show any signs of misbehaving and stood patient while I talked to my Grandpa. In fact I talked a lot, almost the whole time. I think Ruby was happy enough to stand still and if she got impatient and started pawing the ground, I made her move her feet and then stood still again. I know she liked staying where my Grandpa was because that's where I had her stay still so I got talk to him. I knew she would be wanted to go there/near the gate so I had her moving her feet, trotting or cantering near Grandpa/the gate and then rested her at the farthest end. I talked a lot during that time and explained a lot, too, showing my Grandpa different exercises. Ruby did so well with the riding and showed me she could move when I wanted her and stop and stand still when I wanted that. She did show off her stops almost too well. When I had her cantering or trotting freely to where she chose where to go I kept my hands away from the reins. Then when I sat back in the saddle she stopped very fast. Even her backing up was showing off of how well and fast she could back up with very light pressure. Her backing up on the ground wasn't very good, I know Sugar is a champ compared to her but in the saddle she's amazingly soft and easy. 

So sometimes she turns from terrible to show off. I just hope I can learn more with the ground work. It's kind of strange to me that she's getting better in the saddle but worse on the ground considering that I've been working so much on the ground work and so little in the saddle. 

Cold Sunday

Last Sunday I went down to have a nice ride on Ruby. Unfortunately it started raining and Ruby had enough energy to decide to argue with me. Colder weather effects horses and I often see them running around and bucking, which is really cool to watch. 

Like I said when I was leading Ruby, he started acting up and even tried nipping me when I backed her up. She wanted to graze on the way and when I didn't allow her she got a little upset. It started raining harder so I changed plans and walked her back to the paddock. Instead I had her back up and follow me around the paddock for a little while. After that I cleaned the paddock and headed for home. 

I would have worked with her more, most likely without riding and just ground work if it wasn't Sunday. I'm not sure about the rain though, I'd think if it was heavy enough it wouldn't work as well since she'd barely be able to pay attention. And, she might be friskier and uncooperative.

Today (Monday), I went down again but not to ride. It's about the same weather, cloudy and at the end it started raining. I came down to clean the paddock and then worked a little with Ruby who followed me around while I was cleaning. I kept her in the paddock and instead of putting on any halter or rope I got the whip/stick and string and had her following me around. When we stopped I desensitized her and if she got too much into my space I backed her up. She was very lovable that day and stayed close to me been interested in everything I did. At the end before I left I opened the gate part way and let her graze on the grass there, keeping the space out between us so she couldn't walk out. 

Sugar stayed in the shed most of the time and I came to her once in awhile to rub her. So most of the time I spent there, I loved on them. I love it when Ruby follows me! 

C Pattern, Scary Things and Ups and Downs

One exercise I learned from Sarah regarding the Clinton Anderson Method is the C pattern. The C pattern is basically having the horse walk, trot or canter back and forth in front of you in a half circle. I can also move forward and have the horse going back and forth moving forward as well. 

Clinton uses the C pattern to get a horse used to a scary object. I've also seen it done when a horse is scared to get into the trailer. Yesterday I worked with Ruby on the C pattern up and down a path. I was originally going to lunge her and work with some other exercises in the round pen or arena but they were being used by other people and their horses. 

Like I said in my earlier post, there have been a lot of deer recently! A herd was grazing around the round pen and Amber (13 year old girl) was riding her horse Athena (one of the horses I usually care for when she's gone) in the round pen. Athena was getting jumpy around the deer. 

I remember when I took Sugar to be lunged she did the same, if not worse. It was hard to get her attention at first because she would keep snorting with her ears pricked prancing back and forth. I think she was more curios than scared but she did cut the circle when I lunged her at the part nearest to the deer. 

I'm becoming more aware of objects (usually colorful, moving and especially the ones that make sounds) and other animals that I never think about but now do when I'm with a horse. If it's like a vehicle I feel they might spook at I'll try to turn them so they could see it and try to do something like the C pattern, keeping their feet moving helps them take their mind off of it. A lot of the time I don't care too much about the Equestrian people when they drive their cars/trucks by because they usually go slow around someone leading or riding a horse. Also most of the time the horses recognize the cars because they come by often. There are the people who drive by to walk there dogs in the a field by the EQ center. They drive much faster and in the past Sugar has often been spooked by them. I do admit I feel much more comfortable around Ruby more than Sugar sometimes. But Sugar is a lot easier to lead most of the time and much better at backing up. 

Anyway, back to what I did that day. I took Ruby to a field near by and practiced the C pattern on the way there. I'm still very clumsy with the stick and rope when I switch hands. When we got to the field she got really frisky and made it harder to control her. I lunged her around and kept her changing directions. She kept coming in too close and tried turning to face me too many times. When I got her moving again she would shake her head and do little jump like kicks with her hind legs. I constantly had to get her out of my personal space; she became very pushy. I got her going well in the end but it's been awhile since I took her to that field. In fact she hasn't been there since she got back from Nevada. I used to take her there a lot before she left and she did better then. She is always testing me and I'm learning how to respond in the right way. Also, she isn't the most patient horse when I get clumsy with my tools. When I tangle up my tools or drop one of them, Sugar just stops and lazies around. Ruby, on the other hand, takes this as a chance to get into my space. I usually prefer Sugar's way. I don't often get that clumsy at all, so far the C pattern and one of the backing up methods are rated the hardest to keep track of my tools on my list. lol!

Working On Ruby

The other day I worked with Ruby on most of the exercises that I've been learning. When I led her towards the barn and arena she got sticky feet (she stands still and doesn't want to move) as she usually does at a certain point. I had her trot back and forth in front of me while moving her towards the round pen. I also backed her up and finally got her there. But she wasn't as bad as before. I was afraid at first that she might spook at a bunch of deer who were grazing around the barn and arenas. I knew Sugar gets uneasy around them but Ruby barely noticed them. There seem to be a lot more deer recently, and I saw a lot of bucks, does and little fawns. 

When I got her into the round pen, I let her roll around on the ground first. I went to the barn for a helmet and reins. I decided that I was going to ride her bareback and practice a few exercises on her back. First I lunged her and let her pick the speed. Most of the time if I don't start changing her direction, she starts getting herself worked up. She will start tossing her head and adding speed and if she's really mad she'll buck a few times. Besides tossing her head, none of that happened this time. She's getting over being mad when we start and changing her direction really helps. She calms down and finds a comfortable gait without tripping herself or using up all her energy like she does when she's upset. I'm just talking of the bad times; it happens when she's grumpy but having calmed down she enjoys it more. 

At the end of the lunging (which went great!), I had her come in the middle with me. I spiraled and then came back to the center where I rubbed her all over. I'm telling her that with me she gets rest, if she left me then I would have her work again. Sometimes in the past with Sugar or Ruby they might come in and then decide they want to leave me. As soon as they 'disconnect' I make them work again. I could tell they regret it because they would try to come back in and make small circles to get closer to me where they found out that meant rest. I don't want them to come in on their own but instead to come when I ask them. So after a little bit I let them come in and see if they'll follow me. They usually never try it again and we both enjoy the rubbing I give her. 

When I was in the middle with Ruby I did some desensitizing with the stick and string and then the lunge line. This one doesn't have movement but my arm and the string or rope being tossed over their back, around their legs, around their neck and whipped on the ground. 

After that I did flexing; 

Lunging for respect stage 1 and 2;

And a couple different backing up methods.

Then I got on her bareback and practiced one rein stops, backing up, and more flexing but on her back this time. Another time I'll try the obstacles but I got her back to her paddock with no problems. Sugar came to the gate but I got her to back up (which was hard to do while holding on to Ruby) but then she didn't seem to care much and walked away. I don't like how Ruby walks off when I take off her halter. She's always too eager to leave so I stood with her a little longer and then I had her walk with me around the paddock. I took off the lead and had her follow me without touching her. I backed her up and then took off her halter. That's when Sugar became a little bossy.  It looks like she knew I wouldn't allow her to approach Ruby so she pretended not to care until I let Ruby go. When she does this I'll turn around and work with her in the paddock or have her backing up.

Another Morning

This morning I woke early again to go down to the horses. I got there to feed Rose and Cody and then I went to Ruby and Sugar's paddock. Mrs. Davis came down to feed them so we got there around the same time. 

She fed them and I scooped and groomed while they ate. I actually didn't take Ruby out like I planned but instead worked a little with Sugar in the paddock. Mrs. Davis was working with her while I scooped and then she had to go so I took over. I did lunging with her, and noticed every time I started with her or changed her direction she would back up instead. Every time I tried turning her away so she could trot in a circle she would back away from me. In one way, this was great that she could back up so well, but I wasn't asking her that and didn't want it either. I did learn that if I tapped her shoulders, I was able to get her the right way. Only sometimes she was too far away for my stick to reach her. So I worked with her a little closer and that worked well. 

I have to go back and watch the DVDs to get the full answer. I especially want to know how far away I am supposed to stand.