I talked over with Shelbi on when to meet her down at the stables so I could watch her train Sugar and maybe work with Ruby as well. I met up with her and watched her back Sugar up into the round pen. Sugar is actually better at backing than Ruby is. I watched her round pen Sugar while she talked to me on what she's doing or answering any questions I had. I noticed Sugar had a lot more energy with everything, too much in fact. She was more on the overweighted side and got winded faster than Ruby would have, especially since she kept speeding at every little pressure Shelbi put on her. Ruby needs a lot more pressure more often than not. We basically need a horse in between so we're working on evening them out.
Shelbi then saddled Sugar (after a few other exercises like desensitizing and yielding) and took her to the big arena. I went to go get Ruby so we could both work them in the same arena and Shelbi could help me. When I went out to get Ruby from her paddock, she was much better to catch than the day before.
Yesterday I worked with her and had some really bad moments and some really good ones. That day I worked with a couple of the exercises and so far I was satisfied until I got to the "lunging for respect." I pointed for her to turn and move in a circle around me but that's when the trouble started. First she just stood there so I added pressure to her front end to move off. She still stood so I added more until she started backing, and then she decided to rear up and suddenly she came forward at me a few steps to test/challenge me.
That's when I made my greatest mistake. What I should have done was come back at her more fiercely and make her go the way she was supposed to go, but what I did was I lost the fight by moving back. I moved back because she frightened me when she get's nasty. That was the wrong move on my part so now the next time I ask her, she'll try it again most likely worse than before because she's succeeded on been able to back me up. I was unsure about trying again because I knew I was doing something wrong at the time so I did some more of the other exercises I knew how to do and ended at a good stopping point.
Today Shelbi gave me the answer to my problem. I told her what happened yesterday so she had me do it again. But first she had me back her up with the different methods. I noticed when backing Ruby to the arena that she tried to move to the side and pass me. She unfortunately succeeded in that once but I did NOT want her to win me over again! The only good things that comes out of Ruby winning is that she's making me that much more determined not to let her win the next time. I backed her more in the arena and not once did I lose to her. After that and some yielding, we did the lunging for respect! Shelbi had me point in the air and swing my stick to set her off. She had a similar attitude the day before and reared and challenged me but just as I expected, she did it a little more. Shelbi had me 'get in there!' and I whacked her on the neck until she turned and obeyed with a swish of her tail.
Mistakes and problems I made during Lunging for Respect stage 1:
- Point in the Air: The first mistake I'll mention is pointing in the air. When I ask Ruby to turn and move, I'm supposed to point high in the air the direction I want her to go. I don't point high enough and I don't keep my hand pointing. I need it dramatically high so she doesn't get confused on what I want her to do. I also need to keep it there until she gets away from me the distance I need. I keep putting my hand down way too soon, partly because I'm clumsy with the rope and keep forgetting to keep it there, and partly because I have a nasty rope burn and just get's worse so when that rope is supposed to be pulling through my hand it burns and opens my skin again so I drop my hand. I just need gloves and I'll be set.
- Adding pressure: Not a big problem but I don't put enough pressure or get after her. Although I do let Ruby get away with little problems, that can lead to bigger ones. It's not that I'm babying her, it's more that I don't know I'm letting her sneak away with the wrong behavior. Or I don't 'get after her' when she does something wrong.
- Body Language: This one is probably my worst problem. I think while working horses I'm more on the timid side. When I yield Ruby to a stop she would walk into my space. Shelbi noticed I would back out and even that is letting her win. So she had me work on my body language to be confident. My body language was hesitant and Ruby could read that so she took advantage of me. Shelbi wanted me to be confident and not frightened when Ruby got nasty. So I changed from a timid deer to 'you better not!' leader. After just working that day I got much better and stood my ground when I was supposed to instead of backing up and made Ruby back instead. That way we both stay safe~
At the end I felt much better and felt like I got a lot accomplished, both with myself and with Ruby. It turned into a lesson from Shelbi even though Shelbi was working Sugar at the same time. I took longer, so she watched us with Sugar resting. She worked Sugar on lunging as well. She kept Sugar turning and working hard next to us and then she lunged further away from us (and the gate) and slowed the work and let her rest over there. It helps resolve something called "buddy sour." Buddy sour means that the horses constantly want to be together because they feel safer and rested. But we don't want that, we want them to be parted easily when we take them out. We want the horses to want to be with us and feel safe around us like we're their herd. So Shelbi is teaching Sugar that being near Ruby means work. The same exercise can be used for "barn sour" which is the same thing but the horse feels and wants to be near home so the rider has a hard time bringing the horse away from home. You work them where they want to go and rest them where they don't want to go. Basically they need to be balanced out so that they only want to go where we want them to go.