Monday, June 19, 2017

Obstacle Clinic 5/14/17

I mentioned in an earlier post that Jay and I planned to spend our anniversary (and, coincidentally, Mother's Day) at an obstacle clinic lead by our trainer, Jessica of Pony Peak Stangmanship. With Copper being sidelined, Jay took Pearl instead. Neither of us have been up on Pearl since she ejected us last year (yes, it's already been a year), but we thought the obstacle clinic would be a great way to start Jay and Pearl bonding a bit more. Copper will always be his "boy" and his heart horse, but Pearl is the one he's going to have to ride.

The girls loaded up into the trailer pretty nicely. Pearl had a moment of hesitation, but then stepped right in. She had never been in Mom and Bill's trailer before, so we gave her a moment to sniff it out. Skeeter tried to not get in the trailer, but only for a minute or two. She didn't want lead into the trailer, but when Bill hopped out, she self-loaded. Apparently, she didn't think there was enough room for both her and Bill in there.

We started the clinic from the ground, but with the horses tacked up. There were a lot of obstacles to explore: bridges, teeter-totters, horse "car washes", dangling strips of death (pool noodles), tires to climb, and tires to walk through, tarps. Pretty much anything that a horse could/would spook at was available for us to work with.

Skeeter still has to explore everything with her mouth ...

... I don't think she'll outgrow it

Jay leading Pearl over some poles, right before she tripped over the "tall" one.

The dangling strips of death were very difficult for Pearl. Eventually she got over herself.

Just hanging out, watching everyone else.
Once everyone had worked through the obstacles on the ground and were comfortable with them, we mounted up. Jay wasn't feeling riding Pearl, so Bill and Mom took turns working her through the obstacles.

Skeeter *hates* her Myler 3-ring combo bit.

Hates. it.

After a year of trying to get her to like it, I finally switched back to her Myler snaffle. The problem is, the snaffle is what Pearl's been going in, so they had to share. I rode Skeeter through the obstacles first (video at the bottom of post), then passed the headstall to Pearl.

Bill took a turn first, just in case she was feeling froggy.

Mom and Pearl sidepassing through the hula-hoops.

The horse car wash was no big deal for either horse.
Pearl, of course, was a perfect angel for both Mom and Bill, but when they asked if I wanted up, I declined. She had already had two people up on her in a short period of time and I wasn't going to push it. We decided to end on a great note with her and leave her be.

I did get back up on Skeeter once Mom and Bill were done with Pearl. It was not quite as nice as the first time. The first time I rode, she did okay, she's a bit of a looky-lou and wants to be in everyone's business, so she's a bit "dull". The second time, most of the other horses had moved out to do the obstacles in the pasture and there was only one other horse in the arena with us. Little Miss I-have-to-be-in-everyone's business took exception to that and wouldn't settle down. Jessica had me move her in figure eights and circles, never a straight line (so she couldn't get momentum to bolt).

She was mouthing the bit a lot and at first I couldn't figure out why, then I looked down when we were turning and realized that I hadn't re-adjusted it to fit her and the bit was just hanging in her mouth, not at all where it was supposed to be.

Nonetheless, she did okay with the figure eights and circles. We didn't work over any physical obstacles the second time, just worked with the mental obstacle of being left behind. She and I ride alone, either in the back yard or at our neighbor's arena, but it was the first time she'd been ridden where the temporary herd moved away and it was stressful for her.

We did lots and lots of circles and turns until she calmed down, then I dismounted and called it a day. Or tried to, anyway.

At the trailer, we untacked the horses, then I poured some water into a bucket and offered it to her. Good God, you would have thought I was coming at her with a torture device. Her head went up and she pulled back to try to get away. She was tied fast to the truck, so she couldn't go anywhere. As soon as I put the water bucket on the ground, all was good, but I didn't dare pick it up and offer it to her. Mind you, this is her water bucket - the one she drinks out of when we travel; the one that hangs in her stall at the horse expo. The only thing different was that I was holding it. Dork.

I had been a long day. We were tired, hot, sunburned, cranky, and ready to head home. Pearl loaded up into the trailer like a pro, but when it was Skeeter's turn that was a no-go.

Remember back when I took her to Posse training and she wouldn't load to go home? Same thing. She was d-o-n-e and was not getting in that trailer.

I tried to get her to load, Bill tried to get her to load. Bill and I both tried with the flag. Bill and Jay tried with the flag. It was.not.happening.

Unfortunately for Skeeter, I had an ace up my sleeve - Jessica was still there, so I went and asked for her help.

Skeeter was not going to get in that trailer, no way, no how., and she tried to tell Jessica that.

But Jessica's got the patience of a saint and no matter how many times Skeeter said "no", Jessica said "yes" until Skeeter decided it was in her best interest to just get in the damned trailer. It's incredible to watch Jessica with a horse that doesn't want to load. She's completely fair in what she asks of the horse, and if the horse needs a correction, she gives one, and then doesn't hold any grudges. I, on the other hand, get pissed off and hold grudges, so Skeeter and I get into a battle of wills.

By the time Jessica was done, Skeeter loaded up nicely, stood for a few minutes, then backed off nicely when asked. They repeated it a couple of times to reinforce the idea, and then she sent us home.

It was an excellent day (even with the trailer issue), and I feel like we got a lot accomplished.


Momma Fargo said...

Excellent! My horse hated their Myler bits too.

Dreaming said...

What fun to see the video. Skeeter is amazing!
And the trailer thing...
And the battle of wills thing....
And the holding a grudge thing....
That is so me! I need a Jessica around when I try to load one of the mares that is staying here... but going home soon!

GunDiva said...

@Fargo - I feel bad that she hates her Myler combo. I mean, Dale Myler himself gave it to her. But I finally had to throw in the towel - she was not going to like it, no matter how I adjusted it.

@Dreaming - Mom and Bill are going to load her up this afternoon. Let's hope they get her on the trailer before any of them drop from heat exhaustion. I try really hard not to hold a grudge, but that mare jumps on my last nerve with all four hooves sometimes. She's a mare, but she's my mare and I love her.