When we first got up to the arena, My Boy was a little concerned about this monster in the trees.
It was only the neighbor's sorrel gelding grazing in the backside of his pasture, which he rarely does.
If that wasn't enough of a distraction, Bambi had to wander by the arena for a little grass, as well. Goodness, it's like the enchanted forest around here.
I have been working with My Boy on the Parelli games since I attended the Parelli event last month. I have to tell you that I am very impressed with how my horse is picking up the games and skills. Hmmm....I am wondering if his little spotted hiney hasn't had some work with this before? I know that his past two owners probably wouldn't have touched Parelli games with a 100 ft. carrot stick, so it hasn't been recently. Or maybe my horse is just a smart boy and I know what I am doing. Hey, it could happen!
I can tell that he has had a lot of round pen work. I started with the circling game as a warm-up. He does a slow jog around me.
After he was warmed up, I took him off of the line and free lounged him. He used the whole arena a little bit at first, jumping and bucking and doing natural rollbacks. At one point he did a floaty little trot with his tail in the air.
It was muggy out. In no time he was puffing and pretty warm, and starting to settle down.
As I was cooling him out, we worked on sidepassing over the log, from the ground. It is a different experience when you aren't in the saddle using your leg and rein cues. It took several tries to get down the right body language and signals. But we were doing very well by the end.
I really enjoy the ground work aspect of the Parelli games. Frankly, there are a lot of days I do not feel like riding. My Boy is a 14 year old, professionally trained western pleasure and reining horse. Now you may not guess this by watching me ride him. He is partly rusty and I am partly unskilled in getting him to perform these maneuvers. But since he is no longer a show horse, these things are not important to me, at least not at his prior level of performance. Yes, I want him to respond to my legs, pressure on the reins, back up, sidepass, turn on the forehand, and whoa (he is best at whoa, oh Nelly!) Those are important to any riding horse, in the arena or on the trail.
Groundwork has become a new challenge because I am possibly teaching my horse some things he does not know. And if he learns it then guess what? Pony Girl has taught it to him! It is different than just implementing something he already knows. That is quite a sense of accomplishment for this back-in-the-saddle cowgirl.
The Parelli groundwork is also helping to get My Boy to look at and respond to me in ways he does not from the saddle. You have to use different tools and approaches to get the horse to move the way you want him to, whether it be sideways, backwards, or forwards. I believe if you can get your horse to respond and move on the ground in similar ways that you do from the saddle, that is when you have an overall well-trained horse. I have had to experiment with different forms of "pressure." I use the rope line, I use the carrot stick, and sometimes, I even just use my hands and walk towards him. I hold them up and flick my fingers and use my energy to just tell him to back up. It's like I am sending out a signal. I will have someone video tape it some time. It has been fascinating to see how My Boy responds. He is very respectful of my space. Somewhere along the line, that was communicated to him and I am thankful his trainer valued this. Whether you are interested specifically in Parelli techniques or not, I think a lot can be learned about just observing horse behavior and experimenting with different kinds of pressure. It is all about keeping those hooves moving and the mind thinking. And watch for your horse's smacking, licking lips. That is My Boy's signal that he "gets it" and is relaxed!
I am heading out of town tomorrow, to visit my parents. On Sunday, we have a wedding brunch for my cousin. And since my mom is working on Saturday, my dad suggested that he and I attend one of two different local horsey events. One is a trail riding challenge. The other is a Professional Rodeo Association benefit rodeo, complete with calf roping and bull-riding. I am torn between the two. Let's see....more cowboys at the Rodeo....should be an obvious choice. What do you think?