It seems as though Corona and I are back on track! We had a superb weekend of riding and groundwork that more than made up for our issues last week.
On Saturday, the weather was very “blah” – really grey and dreary with some rain. I did the barn work and decided that I’d focus on doing some groundwork with Corona. I had watched a portion of my Level 1 Parelli DVD and was feeling pretty inspired. Corona didn’t disappoint in the least. I have been focussing on games 1-3, but decided to add in games 4 and 5. Corona was a gem. In Parelli, you use an incremental set of requests when you’re playing with your horse. Level 1 is considered a suggestion, level 2 is a request, level 3 is to tell and level 4 is to follow through…they also explain it as adding pressure through the hair, skin, muscle, bone. Corona is normally pretty good at responding by level 3 (I’ve got level 1 and 2 before, but very inconsistently). On Saturday, he was consistently responding by level 2 once he figured out what I was requesting. It’s really great to watch him showing signs of relaxation and curiosity as well. I introduced a game called, “touch it” where you ask your horse to touch an object with the aim of encouraging their curiosity and play instincts which in turn supports their confidence. While my “driving aids” left quite a bit to be desired, Corona happily investigated the objects (large metal barrel, part of a wooden skid, pilon) and wasn’t spooky towards them at all.
After our groundwork I decided that I’d tack him up and take him for a walk around the track (and by the scary horse-eating corner). Off we went and, while there were no squirrels around, there were about 50 Canada geese in the same corner!! Just our luck. Corona was hesitant, and I can’t really blame him, but I tried to just coax him on….all was going relatively well and then the buggers took off!!!!!!! Off we went down the track snorting like a fire breathing dragon. He wasn’t as wound-up as he had been with the squirrel and I was able to get him moving more relaxed once we got to the other end of the track. I decided that instead of going back over to the geese, I would ride in the in-field (ie: the middle of the track). This way, we were about 50m from the geese – far enough away so that it wouldn’t cause a heart attack, but close enough that perhaps we could have a teaching moment.
The walk went so well, that I inevitably decided to trot…then that went so well that I asked for a canter. I’m so happy I did because we had a wonderful relaxed canter around part of the field with zero issues! I let him cool down after that and called it a day.
On Sunday, the awesomeness continued. I didn’t do any groundwork but rode with CG and Roller. Off we went around the track when I heard something…I turned around to see an ATV coming our way with a trailer on the back. Super…and where was this all happening?? Oh yes, in THE SCARY CORNER! The ATV passed us on the other side of the ditch (there’s a ditch with a few trees/bushes separating the Boss’ property from her neighbours), the driver got off and started throwing wood into the trailer! He looked at us, I thought he was going to offer to stop while we went passed, but no….he continued. The horses were AMAZING! They looked, Corona hesitated for a minute and needed some strong leg to move forward instead of spinning around, but after a bit of encouragement, he just walked by. We then decided to stay down at the other end as we didn’t want to jinx things. We decided to go and ride in the in-field again…and good thing we did because the guy then started up his chainsaw! I guess he decided it was a good day to clear brush and cut down a couple of trees.
Corona was excellent…and I don’t mean excellent “all things considered,” I mean he was truly outstanding. CG and I had lots of fun, and da-da-da…Corona and I cantered some large circles on a long rein while the chainsaw was going! I was grinning from ear to ear.
What made the day even better was that we officially declared it Spring at the barn – that means taking the blankets off the horses and watching them indulge in their newfound nakedness…it was rolls all around and I’m pretty sure I saw the horses smiling too.
Spring also means moving water troughs with help of two-legged and four-legged friends 🙂