Thursday, October 19, 2006

Baby steps

Our second week has gone really well. Through our baby steps we have made a lot of progress and Grace’s ability is starting to shine through.

Because I was having difficulty getting Grace to make a true contact at the end of the lunge I asked my instructor to come and give us a few pointers. Andrea felt that Grace was not working up to the bridle properly and did not recognise some of the commands she was being given.

Andrea did lots of transitions with her through vocal commands, which the first time she seemed to be very confused with, especially the ‘stand’ command. Anyway, she came back last night and the difference was fantastic. Grace had really got her head around what we were asking of her, and worked in a better contact and more consistently.

Andrea left us with our homework so that was where we started tonight: lots of transitions with the voice, but when she trotted she had to work through the bridle not above it.

Everything was going really well, so I felt it was a good time to get on. My husband, Andy, stood by her head holding the lunge line as I got on and then followed us when I asked her to walk on (with my voice and with my leg). Gradually, Andy moved away and then I just knew it was time for us to go it alone.

Andy unclipped Grace and walked away. Grace continued to listen to my voice all the way around the school, and even though it was windy and the panels of the school were rattling, she continued to listen. We even had a trot on each rein before doing a few transitions.

I am hoping to gradually reduce the amount of time Grace is on the lunge and increase the time she spends being ridden. But tonight she did not put a foot wrong, and I feel as though we are really working as a team now!

Sorry for the quality of the photographs, the battery on the camera was going and it was just starting to go dark.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Day Three

Grace has settled extremely well and today has been the best day yet. At first she was quite stressed in the field, galloping about all day and not being accepted into the mares’ herd. It did not help that she has come in season, so spent all day tarting at the boys over the hedge.

Her second day in the field was much better. Although she was still being chased away, she started getting a little closer to the mares. I have been lunging her every day she has behaved really well. In fact, she was so good on Monday that I decided to jump on for a few minutes. There were a few bucking fits, but apart from that she was really quite good. I realise this was probably a bit soon, but I was just so excited. For the next few days I will only lunge her in her tack, get her fitness up before I get on again.

Today was the third day at Newhouse and she just keeps improving. She was much more settled in the field and was great to catch and have her feet trimmed in the afternoon. This good behaviour carried on to tonight…

We had a beauty session! Her mane is much shorter and although she started being a bit awkward about it, she soon realised that it wasn’t as bad as she thought and if she ate her net she couldn’t feel it as much. It needs tidying up a bit more, but I thought she had put up with enough so will have another go tomorrow.

Another first for her was having the clippers run over her body. They were just some mini clippers but they make quite a lot of noise with the blade guard on. I have to admit I did expect a decent sort of reaction, but Grace did not bat an eyelid. She turned to look at the clippers and then carried on eating her net. I ran them all over her, including her face and ears and she was brilliant!

We are ready for clipping on Saturday and we are getting to know each other through every experience.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

She is home!

We went to pick Grace up today. She travelled really well despite the fact we had very bad traffic caused by several accidents on the M6. It took us around two and a half hours to get home, and although she had sweated up, I think a lot of that was because she is a little woolly bear at the moment.

I got her to the yard and she did a lot of shouting. She unloaded well, but because she had been a bit unsure of the trailer at Jill’s (it can take them some time to get used to the way they have to turn) I remembered something Richard Maxwell said to me: “When you get to a show, you need to reload them so that they know that is what is expected of them when they are somewhere different.” So I reloaded her and she went straight in and turned even though she was in a new place, with a new person and new horses cantering over to see what was going on.

When she went in her new stable, she had a snort and a sniff, but was soon munching on her haylage. She was frightened of her automatic water feeder, so I went to try a bucket because I was a bit worried she was tucking up a little. She dipped her nose in the bucket but then went as dunked it in the water feeder!

After I left, I got a text message from a fellow livery saying Grace was whinnying like mad when I left… poor little girl. But at least she likes me!

I am going to nip back and check on her in a while, just to make sure she is ok.

Fingers crossed that this is the beginning of a lovely relationship between the two of us!