Sunday, August 8, 2010

Nothing Lost

Since I had the trailer out for Bombay's trailer training, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see how much of her trailer training that Gabbrielle remembers. She hasn't been in a trailer since last fall. I lined her up with the back of the trailer, turned around to grab the camera, and when I turned back to take a picture, she was already in the trailer standing at the window! So, I closed the divider and took a picture of her legs.

And the gratuitous butt shot... Isn't she cute?

She loaded and unloaded herself over and over, so I didn't feel she needed any work in that area. What a treat for me. It's a rare gift when something just goes smoothly.

I did wrap one shipping boot around her leg to see how she'd react, and she wasn't concerned. I didn't try to put all of them on her, because they are too big for her anyway. Her calmness is a breath of fresh air after dealing with Bombay's nervousness.

I rode her for a while and got my husband to take pictures. Unfortunately, the majority of the pictures were either of my butt or at an angle that made my thighs look like they each weighed 5,000 pounds.

The yard next door was quiet, so I was able to give my undivided attention to Gabbrielle. I still had issues with maintaining her attention, though. She tends to drift off and tune me out, so my cues have to be fairly strong before she'll wake up and say, "Oh, uh, does the fact that you are cranking my head around to the left and pressing on my left side with your leg mean you want me to turn left now?"

She got softer and more responsive after a while, but now I need to figure out a way to clearly communicate that I want her to go straight. What happens is I turn her one way or another and immediately remove the pressure as soon as she starts turning. However, she doesn't stop turning. She just keeps going in a circle.

So, then I lay both legs against her with equal pressure, hold each rein the same length, and look straight ahead, but she still keeps going in circles. Any advice on how to straighten her out after a turn?

I've spent a little bit of time working on pushing her to the outside of the round pen with my inside leg, even bumping her with my heel while opening up the outside rein, but she doesn't quite get it yet. This next picture cracks me up, because I look like I'm riding a motorcycle. I'm keeping the reins fairly loose at this point in her training, because otherwise she pulls and throws her head around. She can't listen to my other cues, because she's so busy struggling against the pressure on her face. As she matures in her skill level, I'll tighten up.

All in all, nothing was lost in all the weeks I was working too much or had visitors or bad weather or errands to run and wasn't able to ride her. That makes me feel better to know that she can retain what she learned from her last lessons over long periods of time, because I suspect there will be many more lulls in her training to come.


Leah Fry said...

I'll be monitoring your comments because I have the same issue with Poco. He careens around like a drunken sailor.

And I'm envious of Gabbrielle loading and unloading herself. Mine load well, but not by themselves. I guess I should be grateful.

baystatebrumby said...

She's so gorgeous, I love seeing Gabbrielle in the blog. And hey, it's fun to see you too!

Jeni said...

You may have to steer her out of the turn to straight. I had to with Rosie at first. I also over aggregate my cues to turn. I use weight shifts and turn of my own head looking where I want to go but to start with I do it so aggregated that I look like I'm falling out of the saddle. But as soon as the turn is made I'm steering out of it and I'm center ~ looking forward.

Sydney_bitless said...

I would suggest taking the training fork off. There may be pressure pulling on one rein from the rings and it may be subtle enough to make her keep turning. Why do you use the training fork anyway? Your horses don't seem really high headed and if they are they are likely evading the bit which could be corrected by teaching them to yield to pressure.

A good way to teach a horse to go in a strait line is to get five cones (or buckets or whatever you have to make visual markers) and put four at four points around your round pen (making a square) the fifth one put in the center as a center marker. Practice riding from cone to cone, around the center then back to an outside, around the center again then back to another outside cone. You won't believe it until you try it, a lot of people are skeptical until they do try it but it makes a difference in training with horses who do not want to walk strait because it gives you a very precise visual you stick to every time. Hasn't failed me yet or many others who take my advice and try it.

Breathe said...

No advice here, but I'm impressed that Gabrielle just self loaded herself! What a treat!

Congrats on a successful day overall!

Vaquerogirl said...

Sydneys advise is good. Another thing I do is to always remember the axis of the turn is my indie leg. It does not give pressure, oly the outside leg gives pressure, in one of three places, above the cinch, at the cinch and behind the cinch. When you straighten the horse out, then give equal weight or pressure to your thighs and to your knees. Keep your heels out of their sides, keep your horse between the reins and look up and forward. Keep your shoulders straight and even while breathing deep into your belly. That centers you on the horse and gives them a place to 'go'` forward.
Sometimes to keep a shoulder up I do a FRANKENSTEIN rein- that is my term for it! Ya know how Frankenstein holds his arms out and stiff? Well, when you hold one rein up ( the outside rein) same side as the shoulder you are trying to keep up-and stiff, while relaxing the other rein, it tips the horse to the outside,and straigtens them up a bit.
HOpe this helps a little. Good luck!

fernvalley01 said...

Gotta think on the riding straight ahead stuff. I can do it , and see it , just don't know if I can make sense of it enough to type it.Mostly it is box her in between your seat , and legs . drive with your seat and hold her stable with the reins , tiny corrections with hands (Kinda give her no where to go but ahead ) clear as mud right?That and believe it or not the same as in driving , look ahead to where you are going , beyond her to your focal point , look at it a got to it

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

That's great news! Gabbrielle is one smart cookie toload and unload all by herself. I bet it feels good knowing that you taught her how to do that...and she remembered. Yay!


Laura said...

Good to hear that you had some time to work with Gabrielle! She looks great... :-)

Crystal said...

She looks more sensible than the older ones, and remembers very well. Its so nice when they retain training.
I find its easier to turn a horse than make them go strait, so more strait riding is necessary than turning, as long a strai lines as you can go before turning, and look long ways ahead of where you are going, they tend to go where we look. Im really bad at that, gawking around or looking at thier neck and when I look up, they straighten out.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Just wanted to repeat what is it I am doing that I wrote in my post, because people keep bringing up looking straight ahead, and I did say that I do that:

"I lay both legs against her with equal pressure, hold each rein the same length, and look straight ahead, but she still keeps going in circles."

Some good advice here. Thanks.

fernvalley01 said...

Sorry Nuzz Muzz , I missed that part . And as I said , sometimes I can see it and do it , just not explain it . I think you are doing great work with Gabrialle in spite of all the issues with time and interuption

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Sydney has good advice, pick points and ride to them.
You are doing the right cues however, maybe try less leg and use the reins as needed to straighten her out, kind of scissoring them slightly, when you need to. Use your eyes and pick a point in the distance, about 30 feet out, or further. Try to ride a box with short straight sides and then switch it up. Serpentines are good so that you can ride straight, bend, straight, bend, etc. You are on the right path but it often takes time. Horses don't naturally walk very straight.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I've read and reread your post and I'm wondering if your "equal pressure legs" are the problem. Maybe subconsciously, one leg is pressing harder on her side. Try using less or no leg when you travel straight unless you want to speed up. Sounds like you are maintaining close contact with her all the time. My cowboy way of riding is to think of the legs as the gas pedals and the reins for the brakes and turns. Use some outside leg to bend her around your inside leg during turns to lessen the use of her mouth but you don't need leg so much when you ride straight. Weight shifts and eyes are your power tools to make the ride smoother- more luxury car. You want her for pleasure so, less work, right?
Lol. I know, it's not really that easy but it's worth a try, right?