Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rocky- Sessions 5 & 6

That's us walking up to our portable tack room at the end of our ride.
From crack of dawn Monday until Tuesday evening I was in Paihia with an artist friend of mine who had art shows both days so Rocky was given a bit of a reprieve.

Tuesday, December 6th

After supper we went down and I did some ground work with Rocky.  Spent time grooming with the help of his mate's twelve year old owner, and then I walked him up and out of the barn/pasture area into the open area to help with acclimating him to the area sights and sounds.  We played a little of the Porcupine Game with receptiveness.  It was a bonding groundwork time of about 70 minutes.

Wednesday, December 7th

The day started off rainy and ended up windy with variable clouding up and sprinkles.  I worked with Rocky from about 12:30-2:40 pm.  He is still receptive to being "caught" and does not shy away in the least.  He stands at the back of my vehicle without his long lead even being tied- just draped- and does great for lengthy grooms like today when I was picking ticks off, putting an anti tick tag in his main and tail (made skin contact).  I also sprayed him.  He's to the point of barely needing a touch cue to pick up his feet, was good with that from the get-go, but getting better.

Stephen had suggested that it might be harder for him to mount with me trying to have him on a slope where I have more height leverage so I tried him on flat ground.  He seems a lot higher than my horse Misty, but admittedly, I'm sure I'm just heavier and out of practice and will eventually get stronger at mounting from the ground.  I was trying to lead him up to a wooden crate that was on flat ground that would give me a mounting block but getting him close enough was proving to be a challenge when the farm manager pulled up on his four wheeler and offered to hold him while I mounted from the crate.  When I attempted the mount from the ground he did seem to be responding with staying more still.

Today there was a lot of commotion going on.  The four wheeler was moving about, there was banging going on by a HFP resident in the barn, there were construction guys working up at the top where we come out of the pasture area, the wind was whipping around, someone across the road was weed whacking, a lady was using a hose on her patio . . . all things that seemed to have him on high alert, behaving more spooky and a bit more stubborn.

Again, it took about 20 minutes of walking around in the grassy pasture surrounded by the road and noises until he we "became one" and he appeared to resist less, relax more, and many times go where I willed him to go without much need for the rein.  He does appear to fight the bit in his mouth even if I am not in his mouth at all, so I'm just assuming he used something different than a snaffle for the harness racing- but the owner felt this bridle and bit was a great fit for him.  Sometimes he sticks his head way out in a crazy looking way as if he is trying to get in a position to make it fall out, but he did that last night in his halter as well.  That said, I have never seen a horse accept a bit so eagerly.  While riding I try to get out of his mouth asap so he can see that all he has to do is respond and the won't have pressure . . . but even without any pressure, he doesn't like it.

Today I had to use a lot of one rein stops because he was having trouble stopping and then staying centered.  He'd do a lot of backwards dancing and side stepping at times, especially early on, when I wanted him to be still or he was resisting going in a certain direction.  All in all though, with time the stops and reining came together.

Went up the road to the first cattle gate a few times and detoured by circling in the vacant lots between houses and he did well.  Vehicles, including construction trucks, seemed to be frequent and I am having him stop as they pass.  He's still a bit spooky with the big ornate boulders, but so much better than the first day the owner had him by them.  Mind you, he does also react to Simba who is pacing the fence and whinnying.  Rocky will turn and whinny back.  After Ernie seeing appearing so herd bound and seeing what it can do to behavior, it is so important that they are both competent going out on their own and I'm sure that will continue to get easier as his familiarity builds.

Stephen was just a bit disappointed when I answered how the ride went, "I'd think you would be seeing progress every time."  I explained that there were ways I was still seeing progress compared to the horse that wouldn't even walk up the hill. (Stephen has only witnessed the riding after I had already put in a good 40 minutes of riding and he was warmed up and compliant)  Figuring it is the fourth time we've been out on a ride and it had been two days since I'd been on him and there is still progress from the beginning and times where we are simpatico I'm good with where we are at.  Hopefully it will be a bit less windy tomorrow.  One thing I'm real curious about is how many times this makes total for him to be under the saddle.  From the owner's answer, I'd say not many.

Here's to a great ride tomorrow!

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