(Tumbleweed mutually grooming with Beautiful Girl. He is the head honcho in the herd now, at least when Cowgirl is not there.)
Good news! My apple watch hasn't had to call for EMS yet. Yay! No, everything has been going smoothly in our world, and we're staying safe.
Confession: I don't enjoy working through the "buddy sweet" stuff. It's not that I don't enjoy being with my horses, I do. It's just not as fun as the work that is between Tumbleweed and me, alone, no distractions from Foxy Mama. This work reminds me of the same work I did with Cowboy when I'd ride him away from the house, and then on our way back, when we got close, he'd try to break out into a trot or a run. I'd have to turn him back around and ride the opposite way, rinse and repeat. It would take us an hour to get through what should have taken us 5 minutes. I mean, I wanted to get home, too, but it was essential, foundational work.
As is the buddy sweet or sweet on his buddy stuff. It's like eating your broccoli before you get the piece of cake.
Yesterday morning at the park (with my husband) was all about working Tweed around Foxy, resting him when he walked away easily. He caught onto that in like 3 minutes. He was a little pissed about it, too. He threw a little hissy fit about the work I was making him do.
Our trail ride was decent, except he kept getting too close to the side of the hill. I don't know if I was leaning away from it, making him balance my weight by moving more towards it, or if he just likes to hug the drop off. Maybe both, but it's freaky, and we need to figure it out. We ran into three trail riders, one ponying a fourth horse. They surprised us at the same place I almost lost control of Tweed on our last solo ride. We stopped and let them pass, and he was as calm as he could be.
Last night, after dinner, my husband asked if I wanted to go for a walk. Um no, I replied, I'd rather walk out and work with Tweed and Foxy. Will you help me? (I signed up for Ryan Rose Horsemanship online, and I have ALL KINDS of fun things to try with Tweed! Riding without reins, spooking him while he's in saddle, walk to canter transitions...lots and lots of stuff. It costs $10 a month, and has already paid for itself.)
My husband agreed, and his first task was taking Foxy outside the arena to graze. He set up a chair, pulled out his phone to read an article, and I worked on that whole buddy sweet issue--working Tweed close to Foxy, relaxing away. Except this time, Tweed didn't want anything to do with being near Foxy, and seemed surprised that I was making him. He was all too happy to get away from her and rest, and not ask to go back.
I told my husband we were done with that part and ready for the next thing--trying to scare Tweed.
He looked disappointed, as he was just starting his article and getting comfy.
The buddy sweet session was certainly non-eventful, but gave me valuable information: Tumbleweed is more buddy sweet when he is away from home and worried about another horse, or something else, getting his girl.
Good to know.
Next up was doing something scary near Tweed, while he stood on the bridge. Eventually, this will be done in saddle, but I started last night, in-hand. (This is another lesson from Ryan Rose Horsemanship, and I’m modifying it for Tumbleweed.) If he left the bridge, he'd be worked, then returned. If he watched the scary thing, but stood in place, that was a win. My husband waved the flag up and down and walked a straight line in front of us (not towards us). Tweed watched him, but stayed on the bridge. Then, my husband did the same, but towards us. Tweed stayed on the bridge.
I asked my husband to get the tarp.
My husband asked me if I could be the go-for person, and he be the one with Tweed on the bridge.
Me: Um no, I know what to do if he leaves the bridge.
Husband: tell me, and I'll do it.
Me: No, I have to do it.
Husband: (walks away to get the tarp with a definite, this is the last thing I'm getting for her, attitude).
Me: Now, wave the tarp, but it in a controlled way.
Husband: Like this?
Husband: How about this?
Me: No, let me show you. (husband comes up to hold Tweed, like he wanted to do all along, and I show him how to hold the tarp and make noise)
Tweed: What in the hell are these crazy parents of mine doing? Oh well, at least I'm resting here on the bridge while they do all the work.
Husband: (Takes the tarp back and walks in a straight line in front of us making noise.)
Tweed: Interesting, very interesting. But I'm staying put.
Me: Good Tweed.
Husband: (Walks toward us making noise with the tarp.)
Tweed: Still interesting, kind of scary, but I think I'll choose to stay put.
Me: Good Tweed. We're all done. Yay!
Husband: I need a drink. What was the point of this?
Well, the point is to teach them it's okay to be scared, but they should stay in place, not run off. You should do it in a controlled setting before you have to do it on a trail, say, with a biker who doesn't see you and comes whizzing along the trail.
We ended the night with a little limoncello from Oregon.
Today's goal was to improve our walk to canter transitions.
After Tweed left training, the program he was on went walk, trot, squeeze with both legs, canter. But I was getting something like, walk, trot, squeeze with both legs, trot faster, squeeze, trot even faster.
Ryan Rose has a plan for that, and it starts on the ground. You basically set your horse up for the lope / canter departure before asking, because horses can get emotional when you ask them to pick up their power for a canter. That emotion can come out by lurching forward or speeding up. He teaches a 4-part set up. If you don't get it, you stop and reset. The goal--keep them from getting emotional about it.
We did the ground work today at the park, and we used the round pen. Foxy wasn't there, so I had Tumbleweed's full attention. When he accomplished the walk to canter on the ground (he picked up the steps pretty quick), I saddled him and practiced the walk to canter in saddle.
The set up for the canter, the proper frame, is to get them soft with both reins--add flexion with inside rein, inside leg, with hands in front of you, ask them to move their shoulder over, then remove the inside leg and that is a cue to canter, but if they don't, kiss at them. If you need extra pressure, you apply the outside leg. Rose's horses are trained so that when he sets them up, he only has to lift his inside leg to get them into the canter. The biggest problem people have articulating this walk to canter is that they don't keep their hands in the right place. Their hands either come out, or they give their horses the reins too quickly, and the horse gets long and hollow in the back. (All of this is is in his video, with demonstration, but it's only for subscribers.)
Going to the left, I released his frame too quickly (Tweed and I were like rock stars to the right, in our own minds) and sure enough, because he dropped the frame, Tweed tripped at the lope. Yikes. It made him emotional, which I wanted to avoid. I told him, my bad, my bad, Tweed. You did good. But it took me a while to get him back into his non-emotional brain. I had to set him back up going the other way, inside leg, inside rein, but no ask for the lope. Turn again, repeat, then, when he stopped being emotional, open up the inside leg and ask for the lope. (The inside leg pressure tells them you may soon be asking for the lope, but they need to know it doesn't always mean that.) It is okay to release them once they get loping in the proper frame, and ride it on the loose rein, which I did. When you go to stop them, though, you need to pick the reins back up and hold the frame for the stop.
Pretty soon, it clicked for both of us, and we were doing lovely walk to to lope transitions. At least, they felt lovely to me. Tumbleweed seemed to like it, too, which means it's probably the right path for us.