A Blog About My Journey Riding and Training Sora, My Soulmate

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Gorgeous Day

and still no pictures :/ I am hoping to get some video this weekend but it will depend on if my dad is willing.

I went for a ride on Jackson again today and was pleased to find that he was more willing to have the saddle on his back. He must like the treeless which doesn't surprise me because he has always been difficult to fit. He walked me around the pen for a little while and then I climbed off out in the pasture and switched the saddle onto Sora's back. She was even calmer this time as though expecting it and was pleased to have my attention back on her, the princess :)

This time when we got back to the drylot I used my favorite tree stump mounting block and asked her to step up to it. Several times while I played with her saddle and stirrups the other horses would come up too close trying for grain and I would swing the rope at them while Sora stood stock still next to me. She made me extremely proud and I even managed to work through her snatchiness with treats that's made worse when she is around the mounting block, probably me and my nerve's fault. I am proud to say that this is her third (yes third) year of mounting practice and she is standing stock still and willing. I am really glad that I didn't do more riding when she was three or four because I can see the increase in her confidence and physical maturity. I really think this will be our year for heading out on trail rides and spending more time training.

I was also impressed and relieved to see that thanks to a new, small, increase in wither (thanks to her increase in maturity over the winter) the treeless saddle stayed upright easily and I would now feel confident climbing on her with it.

Oh, and look at this cute little barn! I so want something like this when I finally get my own property.

Finally a couple of pictures of where Sora will be in a month or so :D I would love to hear any suggestions for a new boarder. I'm a little nervous about the move and not having Sora right outside my door :/

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Mythical "Go" Button

Today I decided was the time to work on encouraging Sora to go forward. This was something that she was overwhelmingly good at. When I first got her the barest move on my part would send her racing to the other side of which ever field we were in thanks to her previous abuse and lack of human contact. In other words she was extremely right brain dominant. Now she is so left brain dominant that it is almost hard to get her to move.

This summer I trimmed her hooves right in front of our garage door without any type of restraint, she wasn't even wearing a halter, while my dad revved his Ducati in the garage which made a sound like an airplane taking off. Not only did she hold still, she was actually relaxed. Regularly she stands still in front of me while I jump up and down, cluck, wave my hands around like a nut case and throw a rope at her. I actually am proud of this because it means she will be a willing and nonflighty riding partner, however she does actually need to move sometimes as well and since I am against using pressure, such as a whip, I need to think of a different way of teaching it.

Today I got started by jogging with her jogging next to me. With me moving she happily matches my speed right along next to me but won't go fast or slower. I tried getting her to outpace me by swinging a rope next to me but she was having none of it and I was worried, although she gave me no reason to be, that if I increased the pressure she would kick out at me as she passed. I therefore gave up on that method and started doing some free lunging.

In AND a horse that will lunge freely in a perfect circle around you without a single piece of tack is spoken about in hushed tones but thanks to Sora's high food motivation it was something that I could ask for fairly quickly. The problem is getting her to turn off and leave the circle which is necessary at points both for AND and for my purposes today. The pressure of flapping a rope at her and clucking wasn't working very well so I started to reward any tiny movement away from me and it started to work.

After some work, and exhaustion on my part, she actually started to run in a line away from me, getting extra grain for a canter or gallop. I would wait until she was a couple steps away and then call "check" and she would spin and gallop back to me for her treat. Eventually she was going several strides away from me and I changed up the game a little.

One thing that many people in AND are able to accomplish quickly that I've always had trouble with is mimicry. Sora will do many things to mimic me such as backing up, pawing, almost rolling :) and so on and she will trot or walk right next to me but she won't mimic me from a distance. As soon as I start to move in the same direction as her and not point my front at her she just falls into the circle and comes right to me. So today I used one of her established tricks, backing up when she is in front of me facing me, and would get her started out "lunging" and then start moving in the same direction. This is something that I have tried before but I tried it harder today and in different ways. It was quite rough but I actually got her to mimic me cantering which is what I really want. The reason for this is that if I can get her to canter mimic me at a distance and learn to mimic canter where she can move faster than I can, I can get her to mimic canter right next to me at a slower pace and therefore teach collection at that gait. Something that I am striving for.

Oh, and the picture is two year old Sora from before I bought her although right at this moment her mane doesn't look that much better :/ I truly meant to get some pictures but my camera battery was uncharged. I'm hoping to get pictures this weekend since it has been so terribly long.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More Progress

This morning it was incredibly nice outside and I had a day off work, finally :), so I spent some time working with Sora. It was pretty rough because we are both out of practice and have forgotten a lot about the training that we did before but we made some good progress.

After the trouble we were having yesterday I decided to step back a step and make sure I could yield her shoulders and hindquarters individually, both towards me and away from me. She actually did really well with her shoulders which I didn't expect because at on point she was really sticky with them in either direction. However, I did have more trouble with yielding her hips. All she wanted to do was back up so her head could be closer to the treats. I did manage to get some really nice yields from her after backing her up to a fence but after a couple good ones I took a break from that and spent some time working on getting her to yield from a cue from the Cordeo.

She remembered this one really nicely and will either move towards me when I pull the Cordeo lightly towards me or step away when I push it towards her. She also backs or stops at a backwards pull. I was really happy with that and decided to end on a good note. I am hoping that I will have a chance to spend some time with her after work tomorrow but even if not I will have a chance again on Thursday. If she does really well I might even sit on her again or ride Jackson and work with her from his back :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

More Good News

It is official! I now have an HR job! I am so excited and I actually start next Monday :) I also got good news from the boarding stable that I was interested in. They have space and are willing to possibly let me work off part of my board which is exactly what I hoped for! Now I just have to find a place for myself and Riley to live.

I also had a short chance to work with Sora today thanks to getting off work a little early. I was working on an AND exercise called "stepping under" which teaches a horse to carry weight on their hind and also is the beginning of teaching shoulder in. If you are interested you can see the video below.

It was actually going pretty well but Sora was nervous and pushy and just wanted treats "no thank you on this moving crap" and finally gave up. I was just about to leave the pasture when she came back over to me and I decided to try one last time, this time with different body language. As usual it was proven to me that I was the one having the problem because with a simple change of body language she side passed perfectly to me. This wasn't really what I was looking for but it was close enough to what I was asking that she got a jackpot :D

Saturday, March 5, 2011


It's still quiet. I have been working crazy hours since Wednesday and will be working still through Monday. I'm not complaining because I need the money but I am ready for a break. Sora is good although both of us are ready for the warmer weather. She had lost a bit of weight (no more than ten pounds or so) for likely no reason other than I stiffed them a bit on hay for a week or so without realizing but she is back up again and happy.

On the job front it seems I am likely going to get the position but I still haven't heard officially and I'm trying to prepare myself just in case I don't get it. I have Sora's housing all figured out but still have to figure out my own lol. the only thing I am worried about right now is finding a place that will accept a medium sized dog :/ and how long I will have to commute before I can move. The drive is not too much worse than I was used to for Grad School but I would just as soon move sooner rather than later. I can't wait to have two out door arenas, a round pen and an indoor at my disposal. I have NEVER had an arena to ride in so this will be like heaven even if there is some adjusting to not having Sora on my property :)