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.   

Today's Happenings

This morning I went down early to work with Ruby so I could do it before she ate her breakfast. I don't usually work her before her breakfast but it's easier for me now because recently it got hot again. 

At first she was fine when I led her to the big arena. She had a little bit of sticky feet but I expected that. I started to work with her by moving her feet backwards, forwards, left and right. I did yielding her hind quarters, lunging for respect, backing up and some desensitizing. I did the lunging on the lunge line at the end in the big arena. I could tell she was getting worked up and started acting like a grumpy 3 year old. 

My parents were taking a walk and stopped by. So I let Ruby come and say hello, especially since my baby sister was there too. There's something about Sophie that Ruby loves to sniff. I don't know but it's very cute! 

After standing there with Ruby for a few minuets she started to move around more. She was getting worked up about something and after my parents left I took her out of the arena and started for the round pen where I felt it would be easier to control her freely without the a rope on her. I also haven't done that with her for awhile so it's nice to change it up.

As soon as I got her out of arena she behaved terribly! She was jumpy, pushy and got into my space. It got so bad I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get her to the round pen. I was also holding the whip, lunge line and her lead rope in one hand with the other holding on to the rest of her lead to control her. Mrs. Fenwick was walking by so I asked her for help. She has been doing the Clinton Anderson method for years.
I'm still learning, slowly, so I wasn't able to control the way I would have wanted. Soon after, Mrs. Davis came down to feed. Mrs. Fenwick left to go on a trail ride so Mrs. Davis helped me get her horse to the round pen. I could have gotten her there if I had one of them watching. She did calm down a little before she came and she was hard to get into the round pen. There I took over and was advised to keep her changing directions to get her mind off acting reactive. She was probably acting this way because she didn't have her food yet and knew Mrs. Davis was coming soon to feed. She was in a hurry to get back to the paddock with Sugar to eat and got upset because that's not what I planned on. I got her changing directions and calmed her down pretty fast. 

Mrs. Davis left just before I started lunging her and left a flake of hay for her where the obstacle course is so she can eat a bit there instead of her paddock. She wasn't in a big hurry to go back. 

I worked with her until she got tired and wanted to slow down as much as possible instead of running and bucking like she did in the beginning. When I finished with her, she came very willingly up to me and followed me around like a dog. She did not want to go back to work! When she was in Nevada with Sarah, Sarah took Ruby out when ever she wanted. It didn't matter if she had her food or not. When she got back she thought she could kick back and get away with things. She probably got away with some things because we were not as experienced but she was grumpy about her food and thought she could fight her way to it. 

I did more desensitizing with her in the middle of the round pen and let her rest for awhile. I stayed there for awhile with her because I wanted her to think about it. Then I took her out with no trouble at all and led her to the hay. She ate some of it but surprisingly she didn't want it as much as I expected she did. So I took her through some of the obstacles, gave her some carrots and then headed back to her paddock.

Like I mentioned before, Sugar was always a problem when I put Ruby back. Sugar did run a little in the paddock and followed us from the inside to the gate. I was afraid that Sugar was going to be bossy and try to chase Ruby again so I let Ruby graze outside for a little bit. Sugar had food and I didn't know if she would pin her ears at Ruby or go back to eating. I would have back Sugar up but having two horses at the same time was very hard. Then I chanced it and let Ruby graze which took Sugar's interest down. I happily didn't have any problems with them. I did not want Ruby getting into her habit of always walking away as soon as I take off her halter, so I took it off and still held her with the halter around her neck for a little bit and then let her go. 

Future Ideas and Today's Problems

Next summer or sooner I want to start new things with Ruby and Sugar. One idea that has been in my mind a lot is getting them in the water. I have lakes, rivers, ponds and creeks where I live so finding a place to swim in will be easy. I've been learning the Fundamentals and also found a video on getting the horses in the water as well. And it's by Clinton too! Score!  

In this video, he's training a rescued horse named Cider. There are more videos on Cider's training that I've watched as well. Maybe I could get the horses in the water this year if it stays warm but if it's not possible, l I'm looking forward to try it in the summer time. Another goal is to get them trail riding. I have been riding Ruby a couple of times since she was back but's it been hard now with both horses. 

A big problem I have with them both back now is Sugar feels like she's the boss and gets jealous of Ruby very often. Every time I bring Ruby back into the paddock from training, Sugar would come running up. As soon as I open that gate, Sugar would pin her ears back at Ruby and often chase her out of my hands. When that happens, I have to be careful of where I'm standing because Ruby or Sugar could run over me. So it gets pretty wild...

The last time I went to get Ruby, Sugar came up while I was putting her halter on and chased her away. I decided to do some chasing myself. I kept at a slow but threatening pace toward Sugar and made her run around the paddock while keeping her away from Ruby. It's amazing how I can use my body language on her! When I quit trying to chase her, I just relaxed, looked as if nothing mattered and walk up to her without her running away. If I wanted her to move I've learned to 'ask politely' and if she doesn't respond, I take it a notch higher. Horses talk the same language.

And of course another problem with both of them at the same time is extra work. But that's not much to complain about and I'm so happy to have them both back. Although I do admit I take to Ruby more.