Calm, Forward, Straight

Calm, Forward, Straight

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In the Arena # 115 - Forward is forward, and no such thing as too many treats!

The unseasonably warm weather has pushed my landscaping  / farmette schedule forward by several weeks. Everywhere you turn there are chores to do!
My electrician is scheduled to come this weekend (!), and I've got more garden to put in, so opportunities to ride may be limited. So far the sugar snap peas, radishes, carrots and leek seeds are planted. I discovered six pepper plants that overwintered hiding under the wretched mat of weeds I had to remove from last years beds. I must confess that after the hurricane, I was disgusted with gardening and neglected the beds all winter. My prize for the arduous weeding sessions was finding these established peppers.

We've snuck in two rides this last week. Responsibility to work or to riding - seems like an easy choice - but it's not.

Ride one. After a nice warm-up on the buckle, I focused on getting an immediate response from the smallest aid possible. I hope I'm not imagining that this phase of the ride is becoming briefer and easier. But still necessary. Forward into contact just won't happen without my addressing how Val responds to my aids at the beginning of the ride.

Next we worked the big walk, timing of that aid, and got some nice baby leg yields as well, which makes walk work less boring. I was reminded (once again) that when I give the leg and rein aids that I wish Val to move away from, I must also give him space with the opposing leg and rein - space to move into. The space is slight, and I find each ride I can make it slighter. Maybe one day it will just be the idea of space.

I also chose to focus on the quality of my contact - steady and following, which equals reliable, to Val. We proceeded on to trot transitions. Things were going smoothly when invader cat chose to have some sort of loud attack in the woods beside the arena. Val spooked slightly. I asked him to go back to work, and tried not to pay attention to the cat noises. Val requested that we work in such a way that he could keep an eye on things. He asked politely, and I thought it a fair request, so I arranged the figures to accommodate him. He thanked me by getting right back on track. Teamwork.

Ummm, you best be getting the treats my lady!

After the ride I marched Val right out the front gate and took a trail walk down the beach trail. Not super far - due to clouds of mosquitoes, but without hesitance on Val's part. He was with me 100% despite the fact that Cowboy was screaming his head off and running himself into an absolute lather. Val's response was minimal. I turned him out into the property next door, which I care for and which has some decent grazing. He did a few maneuvers, left some impressive divots in the paddock, but again he came right back when I asked for his attention. What a goooood boy!

Our other ride was an another impromptu, virtually tack free, spur of the moment (not entirely safety conscious) ride. As we made our way around the arena, Cowboy threw a hissy fit behind us - which has become a regular occurrence when I ride bareback anymore. My knees felt a little shaky, but it was mostly a non issue. My several months of only bareback rides has given me a much more secure seat  - I'm thankful to say.

When we weren't riding, Val and I had a number of massages, some deep grooming, and fun! We worked more on clicker training. Val thinks this is THE BEST THING EVER since it involves numerous treats. He caught on very quickly, and offered to target other things besides the cones - such as the jolly ball and mounting block. I haven't thought about "constructive" uses for our clicker work yet, but I can tell that Val enjoys the interaction.

There are subtle changes in our relationship these days. Val often runs to the gate to see me when I get home after work. He follows me around while I muck the paddock, tugging at my hoody and offering grooming. We can groom and tack up without even a halter sometimes, and ground tied most times. We're moving along slowly, but we are moving along. :)


  1. Are peppers perennials? Or are they volunteers?

    I'm so happy that you're getting some reward for all your diligent work with Val :)

  2. Sounds wonderful - congratulations for finding hidden vegetable plants that had made it through the winter!

    I especially like your trail walk and clicker training. Val is adorable in the photos of him playing and kicking up his heels.

    I love that he meets and greets you when you get home. You two are so close. Enjoy!

  3. Sounds like good times all around. Pie and I have also been working on the Forward Now!!! exercise . . .

  4. Funder-

    These were last years plants that lived through the winter. I had a couple of tomatoes survive for two years once, only to be killed by a hurricane. Microclimates and windblocks. :)

  5. juliette-

    Val is happy happy that I live here now. There is so much activity for him to monitor and oversee. :)

  6. Kate-

    Forward seems to be the foundation. SO glad to read about how well you and your horses are doing. :)

  7. Great rides! I think you and Val are really connecting. How nice that you have a beach trail, wish I did.

    Surprising that the pepper plants wintered so well. That's one less thing to plant.

  8. Aw- you two just get cuter and cuter! Val loves his momma!

    The hubs and I are actually getting to put in a garden this year. I can't wait to eat our fresh produce.

  9. "We are moving along slowly, but we are moving along." Slow and steady - that's the ticket! Love the connection that continues to grow between you two.

  10. Haha! I hadn't even read your post before I wrote mine about the whole forward thing! Too funny.

    And I know exactly what you mean about having to make that decision between riding or chores...some days it is an extremely hard one to make. Because I know the peas/beans/melons whatever NEED to be planted NOW, but Gabe needs ridden too and I'd really RATHER ride, but plants aren't as patient as ponies! I'm so ready for planting to be done so I can spend more time riding.

  11. Val's dark mane is so pretty against his light body.

  12. Glad you are having good rides even during this busy spring season!

  13. Sounds like a new saddle and more time with you has worked all kinds of magic. I love Val's face...he has such a kind eye and adorable white eyelashes!

  14. Wonderful~ wonderful!!
    I adored reading of the thoughtful work you two are doing. And riding off outside the arena too! SMILES**
    Val is the best and your work + his willingness = pure joy!

    We are deep into winter still...ALL LION NO LAMB...had the 3rd snow of march last week... remnants are still piled against our stable and some roads still. BLAWS have set in...and, after your mention of "fallout" I got a phone call from someone who reads my blog( who thinks it's all about them) and they reamed me a good one. Off to write on my -PRIVATE- "Boarding Expose'" " blog now!!

    If I could dig in the dirt ( all mud right now) I would join you in the gardening.The weeds could help my sanity out by allowing me to hack on them!

    Carry on!! Thx for the smiles!
    What a cool find of the peppers!!!

  15. Val is right! Clicker training is the best thing ever lol. :D You should teach him to smile. It's so much fun and he's so handsome it would make for some adorable pictures lol.

  16. It sounds like you're making great progress! Sensitive contact from you and sensitivity to the leg from doesn't get any better or more important as a foundation than that.

  17. It is the BEST thing when they walk towards you to greet and meet. :) He really is beautiful..... I love his coloring.


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