Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Got Caught

Aspen has been settling in really nicely and putting on weight remarkably fast considering how cold it is!  She's on a detox plan for the next 30 days to help clear out her system and is finishing up the last bit of my Dynamite vitamins. I'm going to be putting her on TNT when the vitamins are finished - if you want to see your reflection in a horse's fur come and see Aspen in April, she'll be so healthy and shiny by then she'll blind you! :)  Also set up appointments with the farrier and my wonderful vet to get her teeth floated.  Depending on how it falls with classes at the college she might even get to be a demo horse for the equine science class to see inside a horse's mouth and the float process.

I've been out to see her everyday since she's been here, and officially started playing with her on Tuesday.  She wasn't eager to see me, not hard to catch, but you could see she would have rather if I'd just left her alone - head turned away as I approached, even took a few steps in the other direction.  On Wednesday she didn't walk away but didn't come either, even when she saw me with her feed pan.  Today however she saw me and whinnied to me and came right over and caught me!  A whole different horse today.  Her demeanor was more relaxed and interactive, she was interested in me, followed me around, and was very engaged while I played some of the games with her.  She's an interesting mix of skepticism and acceptance.  I haven't pegged her on the Horsenality chart yet but she's striking me as innately left brained, and at this point I'm going to go with introvert - of moderate level.  I have noticed she's kind of jumpy about sudden movements on my part (especially in Z5), but if repeated even just once over she quickly decides it's no big deal and then it won't bother her again.  It's hard not knowing fully her training history and upbringing as to what foundational pieces she has in place and what's missing. I know she has the very basics - I can tie her, saddle, mount, ride w/t/c, but I'm going to start from square one with her anyway and gain permission at each stage before progressing.  Because I intend on taking her to the upper levels I don't want to miss an integral piece to her foundation or to our rapport and relationship.

I was really impressed with her today, first and foremost with her huge attitude change about seeing me and then with how much effort she put into the things we did together today.  I started off with a basic friendly game - rubbing her with the stick/string, then swinging the string over her back and all around her - even around her hind legs.  Today was the first day she was totally confident with all of that from the beginning.  Then a few basic porcupine games - head down, legs up, lateral flexion, shoulders over, hinds over.  Already becoming a little lighter and with more prompt response.  Driving game - disengaging hind quarters went very well, moving front over was a bit harder.  She wants to drift forward (so I'm trying to ask less/longer phase 1 to encourage more thought less reaction), and if she doesn't go forward she will push into the pressure a bit before yielding her head/neck/shoulders over.  Yo-yo was a HUGE improvement today.  Tuesday was a phase 4 every time just to get a half step back, today was phase 1 all the way out on the 12' line with an excellent draw back to me.  Wow!  Sending on the circle, better today than yesterday.  She's easily offended if I up my phases too fast, and then doesn't know why she should put a lot of effort into going around.  Sometimes she crawls around the circle at other times she trotted around - but always with a focus of wanting to come back into me.  Never want to lose that draw! A bit of sideways and squeeze as well - went good for the very first preliminary steps of it.  Also, been working on teaching her to park near the fence for eventual mounting.  Tuesday she couldn't find the sweet spot on the fence, kept fidgeting around, yesterday was better - she'd bring Z2 up by me while I sat on the fence but after that she'd lose me and drift forward or away and lose it.  Today I climbed up there and she immediately assumed the position! Z2 came up right away and eventually so did Z3.  SO tempting to get on!!! But I didn't want to ruin her achievement and take away from the moment of her accomplishment in getting the right spot to park on the fence... I resisted the urge and instead just pet her and then called it quits after that.  She followed me all around while I did some chores in the paddock afterward.  Very sweet!

She really needs me to show her that humans can be fun and interesting and that I can be her icon of safety, comfort, and play (not work, work, work!).  I don't have a lot of time tomorrow between jobs so it may be a quick 20 minutes of undemanding time together. :)    I'm very excited to see how her horsenality develops and how she partners with me.

Forgot to mention that she did TONS of licking and chewing today.  Big, open mouthed, tongue out, ah-hah moments! Lots of blinking and thinking!  She'd have a moment of licking and chewing and then come and check back in with me, good "question ears" today too! These are all great developments in her expression over the last couple days.

Also wanted to let you guys know that I am in the market for a Bareback Pad/cinch, a 54" girth, and a few other items.  Willing to purchase outright or trade.  Email me or comment on my post if you have one of those two items. Thanks!

A new pony friend!

                     Aspen's donkey, Bambi.

Beautiful mountain backdrop.

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