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Adventure time with Snickers

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        06-23-2014, 08:06 PM
      #161
    Super Moderator
    Thanks for your support. :)

    Since my last post, we have been having a fantastic time. Nothing apparent really changed, but suddenly Snickers is following me from the pastures without a halter, all over the huge fields, his behavior during hoof trims has improved tremendously and we have been spending a lot more time at liberty. I overheard some people of the barn talking about how do you teach your horse this or that, but decided to keep my mouth shut, because how do you tell that you actually didn't teach your horse ANY of those things? He just started offering more at one point...apparently, when I was ready to receive more. And, as usual, we have been going on trail rides and getting valuable Dressage lessons. I am working very hard on improving my seat and balance, which, honestly, is not up to my standards.
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        06-23-2014, 08:41 PM
      #162
    Green Broke
    Saranda, remember that 'we are our own worst critics'. You are now taking these lessons, and may be suddenly judging yourself in a different view as opposed to the freedom you've enjoyed all this time with Snickers. Personally? I'd take the lessons with a thought of 'this is just secondary' in comparison to the ultimate natural horsemanship I've already accomplished with Snickers during this time.
    In viewing the photos/videos over time, there is no one who could claim they've done what you have with their horse, in a natural realm, that you have with Snickers.

    Well done. :)
         
        06-25-2014, 06:03 AM
      #163
    Super Moderator
    Thanks, NS, that's very sweet of you to say, but I do realize that, as long as I still want to ride Snicks, I HAVE to be as balanced and effective as possible, so that my riding is comfortable for him and that my cues are clear. Thus, I need to be critical of myself, I need to challenge myself, I need many lessons with good trainers and many, often hard, hours in the saddle. Currently I am trying to do lots of stirrupless riding (honestly, with Snicks it is somehow much harder to do in the saddle than just bareback!) and working on transforming my balance, which is heavily impacted by a twisted hip that I have due to hip dysplasia. It can be corrected, though, and that's an everyday battle.

    As for groundwork, liberty and improving our relationship, I know that I have achieved good progress with Snicks and my main goal is just to be happy with him and to see him happy, but I'm far from the top shelves. I do have many aspects to improve in my body language and the management of my energy, and I don't yet have the mental clarity and focus that is needed to fully motivate Snicks at times. It's not that I'm not content with what we can do right now, but I still want to become a better person for my boy. :)

    I am now adding little liberty sessions to each time we meet, either as the only thing we do, or before/after riding/taking a walk/trimming/etc. The day before yesterday I didn't even put a halter on him, not even once, as we went on to work at liberty straight away and he was beautifully connected, and yesterday he made me overflow with joy when he still followed me from the pastures unhaltered, even though I was leading another horse (who wasn't too keen on leaving the herd) and couldn't pay my full attention to him.

    Regarding groundwork, I've recently taught him to spin at liberty! It is, for now, at a slow pace, but he has already started trotting to me after the spin, and I'm planning to start putting more energy in the spin itself, when I see that he is physically and mentally ready for it. Yesterday I also did some ground driving and used a bit, just to remind him this part of his education as well, but, honestly, I think I will give up on it altogether. The bit fits and his teeth are up to date, and my hands were light as well, but he loathes that thing SO much, although he truly is trying. We didn't do anything much, just walking, turning and a couple of large circles, but he seems genuinely set on not accepting anything in his mouth. His eyes lit up as soon as the bridle went off.

    I am also currently looking into milder alternatives to my little S hackamore and will probably buy this - Gebisslose Z√§umung Sun Wheel - gebisslose Zšumungen - Loesdau

    I am quite certain that his favourite piece of equipment is and will be his cordeo, though. Less is more. :) But I still need a bridle of some kind when we are schooling, as I'm not good enough of a rider to tell him everything and help with balance just by my seat alone yet.
         
        06-26-2014, 04:00 AM
      #164
    Super Moderator
    ...or maybe I'll just but the orbitless rings - I'll be able to replace my little S shanks with them and it will be cheaper that way!

    Yesterday we went on a long trail ride, exploring new paths, and I put an LG bridle on Snicks, attaching the reins to the softest setting of the rings, not the shank. Snicks behaved wonderfully, we did a little leg-yielding and lateral flexions just to check how he reacts to this bridle. No problems at all! I had also put the cordeo around his neck and switched from transitioning to a slower gait or stopping from seat/reins to seat/cordeo. Snickers was a bit spooky at a few spots, but, other than that, we had a perfect ride on a sunny evening. If I go to the barn today, I'll try schooling him in the LG and that will help me to decide whether to buy the Orbitless or not.
         
        06-27-2014, 08:51 AM
      #165
    Super Moderator
    So, I rode a little in the arena just to check Snicks' responsiveness in the LG bridle (without shanks). He was flexing, going into contact and reacting beautifully in all gaits, so I call it a win and will quite definitely order myself the Orbitless rings! It seems, that he likes this setup even better than the S hackamore. After that we went on a trail ride, in which we tried to find some new paths, but ended up in a horribly thick woodland area and had to turn back. However, we did have a nice trot-canter transition practice on a longer dirt road, but the rest of our chosen paths were not suitable for faster gaits, so we mostly walked (whenever we weren't going through and over thick bushes, fallen trees, ditches, hills and whatnot). Snickers, as always, was more than ready to challenge any terrain, but he was a little more spooky than usual, jumping sideways from a blackened tree stump or a simple bike. His diet hasn't changed, so maybe it's the cool weather that's affecting him. But I don't really mind, I usually laugh when he spooks, as he does it in such a cute way.

    Here's a little video from very recent:

         
        06-28-2014, 07:47 PM
      #166
    Super Moderator
    Yet another great trail ride, which these days run no shorter than 8-10 miles. Not much to tell, apart from the fact that we ran onto three naked people, two men and a woman, who were making love not far from their car on a remote path. Snicks and one of his companions spooked at the naked behinds that were running through the bushes, but we stayed in place and watched them race away in their car, leaving underwear and shoes behind on the path. It was so funny, we just stood there for a while, laughing until we could no more.

    We also worked a little on independence on trails, cantering away as others stood, or standing, while others cantered away - Snicks was a champ at this. However, I've started thinking that the grass right now might be a little high in sugar, or that Snicks might need some magnesium, as, over the last three rides, I've observed him spooking more at insignificant things and being more antsy about his surroundings. Will continue to observe.

    I also trimmed his hind hooves, which were so very easy to trim due to all the rain we've been having lately, and played a little with his front hooves - no real trimming, just toying with the knife and the rasp, and Snicks standing untied, at liberty. That's a huge success for us that he actually stood - not so long ago trimming front hooves was a good reason for a conflict to begin!
         
        06-28-2014, 08:07 PM
      #167
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saranda    
    Yet another great trail ride, which these days run no shorter than 8-10 miles. Not much to tell, apart from the fact that we ran onto three naked people, two men and a woman, who were making love not far from their car on a remote path. Snicks and one of his companions spooked at the naked behinds that were running through the bushes, but we stayed in place and watched them race away in their car, leaving underwear and shoes behind on the path. It was so funny, we just stood there for a while, laughing until we could no more.

    We also worked a little on independence on trails, cantering away as others stood, or standing, while others cantered away - Snicks was a champ at this. However, I've started thinking that the grass right now might be a little high in sugar, or that Snicks might need some magnesium, as, over the last three rides, I've observed him spooking more at insignificant things and being more antsy about his surroundings. Will continue to observe.

    I also trimmed his hind hooves, which were so very easy to trim due to all the rain we've been having lately, and played a little with his front hooves - no real trimming, just toying with the knife and the rasp, and Snicks standing untied, at liberty. That's a huge success for us that he actually stood - not so long ago trimming front hooves was a good reason for a conflict to begin!
    Oh, good grief! I think I'd spook @ seeing someone's naked behind.... sounds like Snicks did a good job keeping in place and was probably 'snickering' at what he saw....

    Really cool that you're trimming his hooves yourself! I'd like to be able to do that one day, however, my farrier is very good, yet inexpensive and a good horseman. I can ask him any question while he's here and feel I've had a good lesson every time :)
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        06-28-2014, 08:15 PM
      #168
    Super Moderator
    My previous trimmer is a great lady and I really enjoyed her company, however, she started getting more and more clients, and I felt it had started to reflect in the quality of trims. I know she tried her best, but, with that costing me money, with Snicks needing frequent trims and with him sometimes being difficult when it comes to trimming, I felt that starting to trim his hooves myself was really the only option. Unfortunately, there are almost no qualified barefoot trimmers around, and the farriers we can get...well, as for them, I wouldn't let any of those that are available in my region to even touch my horse. I've seen plenty of their work and work ethics - more than enough to decide on this!
         
        06-30-2014, 07:10 AM
      #169
    Super Moderator
    I wish somebody had filmed our last session yesterday! Oh well, at least I've got good memories now. As it was raining, I started with giving his front hooves a little trim - at liberty and using positive reinforcement for the right responses. And it was perfect! He just stood there, let me do everything and anything, and grew just a little impatient towards the end of the trim. Such a huge change since some of the recent trims, when he was still quite difficult with his front hooves and always moving around (thus had to be tied). I'm so proud of my lovely boy! :)

    Then onto groundwork. Didn't even put the halter on, as Snicks followed me freely to the arena. Brought me memories of what he was like when I just got to know him and bought him - planting all his four feet firmly in the ground even when lead in a rope halter, refusing to enter the arena, tired from working as a lesson horse. This session went on to be completely at liberty and Snicks showed great connection. We started with target training (Snicks touching and following a target, and then following a target (frisbee) which I threw away from us, touching it, and then moving on to another target to touch it, before coming back to me) and with colour lessons - Snicks is actually learning to distinguish between yellow and blue when given the choice betweed two identical (except for the color) frisbees. He's showing good progress here, as he's not making any mistakes when I ask him to touch either one or the other. :) Next step - adding more colours to the game.

    Then we used several plastic fence posts as a serpentine, a couple of tires to do circles, turns and figure eights around, a small jump to go over side by side and to cross when coming towards me. Apart from that, Snickers readily followed me at the walk and the trot, I didn't even have to invite him to do that, he did spins, bowed and sat up, and, finally, something I didn't even dare to imagine - we played the circling game at liberty not only at the walk, but in a wider circle at the trot (even working on stretching!) and for about half of the circle - at the canter! So very happy! Snickers got tons of hugs, scratching and praising, and I patted myself on the back when I actually listened to his wish to stop playing after a good half an hour or more.

    I have a bad habit to make a horse do a little bit more, befor we actually wrap up the session, but I want to make a habit of letting the horse decide, when we are at liberty. Snicks seemed to be pleasantly surprised. :)
    Cherrij likes this.
         
        06-30-2014, 07:19 AM
      #170
    Yearling
    Fantastic news! I hope Snicks baby bro will learn to be so great too. He has potential, I am just the dummy here.
         

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