Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Puppies, Extreme Cowboy & Pond Splashing

On Friday the first of the puppies went to their new homes. I am happy they are going to loving homes, but they are really adorable and I will miss them. There are a few in particular that I have become very attached to. Timer was one of my favourites who is just a cuddle bug, and he left Friday – a few tears crept from my eyes as I passed him over to his new parents.

My other favourite – Gem, leaves on Saturday this weekend so I’m hoping I’ll keep it together for her. Gem comes bounding to see me and wants to shower me with kisses.

On Saturday I headed out bright and early to Mount Albert for the Extreme Cowboy Clinic hosted by Cindy at her farm, Pine Forest Stables. Susan Caldwell was teaching the clinic – ranked 3rd overall in Ontario Extreme Cowboy she knows her stuff! Wow what a rush – if you haven’t tried Extreme Cowboy I recommend it! I practically had ants in my pants the whole clinic and couldn’t wait to try everything.

I love extreme cowboy because I think it’s the ultimate test of horse & rider – without any advantages to specific breeds… it’s pretty much a level playing field… except I discovered my 17H tall horse, Cupid, was at a bit of a disadvantage for quick mounting and to bend over and pick up things. It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy warm blood with a floaty trot, a quarter horse with a peanut roller frame, nor a mustang with a bit too much pudge in the mid section.

It all comes down to how brave are you? 
How trusting are you of each other? 
How accurate are you? 
And how good is your communication together?

During the clinic Susan had some fantastic exercises – we practised turning in the Daisy pattern without letting our horse’s shoulder bend too much (we focused on hind quarter control), we practised bridges, car wash, noodles, jumps, a rope gate, and a whole bunch of obstacles that I have no idea what they are called – but they sure are a lot of fun!

Susan impressed me -she focused on riding with your body, using your outside aids, helping us find relaxation and suppleness in our horses, and telling us that if our horse is being tense at an obstacle to walk away, find relaxation and responsiveness in our horse and then to try again. She also promoted simply dismounting and trying obstacles from the ground if the horse was unsure. These are all things I promote in my own way and mimic many other natural horsemen I admire.

I asked Susan if she uses natural horsemanship, and she said “no I just use horse psychology and what works for the horse.” I replied “that is natural horsemanship” – Susan is a great example of a person who is using natural horsemanship by a different name, but she’s definitely natural!

Tip to share: If your horse won’t stand still, try getting them to work more quickly then they want to. For example canter circles, sideways and things that are hard (i.e. not just walking). Then try offering for your horse to stand still.

This way you are trying to get standing still to become your horse’s idea to stand still because moving is too much work. You help the horse find comfort in standing still. This was something Susan asked me to do with Kahleesi because she was having a hard time standing still – and I definitely agree because this is something we commonly do at home and it works!

Kahleesi and Cupid impressed me with how willing and awesome they were with the obstacles, the only one that we had to work on for a bit was the gate – but in the end Kahleesi was able to do the backing up version (more difficult), and Cupid was being confident with the gate too… next we will need to try a real gate – we do have one at home in our obstacle challenge, and you can expect to see it in the extreme division of our obstacle show on August 29th!

Sunday our students decided not to show at Pickering Horse Centre because of iffy weather. Instead Sabrina and I went for a trail ride – Kahleesi and Zoey’s first time going through the water. They were both awesome and walked through the creek with no issue, and then had a blast splashing and dunking themselves in the pond.

Tip to share: It’s a great thing to take time for trail riding – it helps give your horse some mental stimulation, builds their confidence to so many different things (fallen logs, birds flying, dogs barking, going through narrow spaces, etc), and it helps build their fitness.

On both Saturday and Sunday after my other activities, I helped Sabrina put some miles on her young filly, Valentina. We progressed to having Sabrina ride her first follow the rail trots around the whole arena in both directions - and her first canter transitions while online! She is progressing so nicely in the saddle without any scary behaviour - just calm, accepting, and trustful in the saddle.... and that's saying a lot coming from this playful filly that used to think it was fun to rear and buck on the line only a couple months ago! 

Tip to share: when starting a young horse, first show them you can ride with them - don't worry about steering so much, just get our their way (without being dangerously out of control). Then as you gain their confidence that they can move with you, you can start influencing where they go. Follow the rail is the easiest pattern to start with because the horse use's the rail as a guide, and you only need one rein to make any correction to keep the horse on the rail.  

Now, I have a lot more ideas for the Obstacle show we are hosting Saturday August 29th – don’t miss it! We are building a lot of new obstacles for the show. We also have our first PHH show this Saturday. 

So what are you waiting for? Go try Extreme Cowboy and Trail Riding this summer!


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