Resistance and Reward in the Ring

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday as I arrived at the farm , the ring looked so sunny and snow-free, I immediately decided to do some work with Lilly there rather than go out on the trail. I started with the tarp because when Bill got it out, my brumby almost had a heart attack. Heart attacks not really being allowed, it seemed like some tarp-desensitizing was definitely in order. When Lilly sees the tarp, she is not happy. It must look like a weird, flat and fluttering wolverine to her. All she wants to do is get away from it. This kind of groundwork requires the patience of a saint.

Bill has been working on Australian horseman Guy McLean's program so he was trying some of what he is learning on Lilly in this picture. It might look like what all the other clinicians are doing and naturally there are similarities. But there are differences too. I think Guy seems pretty neat. Lilly did everything she was supposed to do, quite sparklingly if you ask me. But then again, I am probably biased.

I think Bill is telling Lilly what a good brumby she is in this picture.

After doing some ground work, it was time to get on and ride!

In the ring I always start Lilly at a walk. Because when I get on her, I never start fast. I like to start slow...kind of like a snail. I can't imagine a time I will ever want to get on Lilly and be off at a gallop. If I ever need to do that, it can only mean something is dreadfully wrong. So, once we do a few loops walking, I get her into a trot. She likes to cut corners. If I remind her, she will hold her head very beautifully. She'll go in any direction I point her in. Sometimes she'll make little protests about having to do ringwork. She'd rather stand around and sleep in the sun. But Saturday, she was a dream.

I also want to keep her soft and supple and ask her to flex at the poll. I do not do this enough.

I also get her into a canter. Lately, she has been picking up the canter without any fuss. In this snapshot, I might be trying to sidepass her. Often when we are sidepassing, Lilly's body get crooked. Her rear end does not stay behind her shoulders. It swings out like a boomerang. So this is another reason to keep up with the ringwork.

Overall, a satisfying and educational day in the ring. Sunday I did the same thing all over again, with some variations to keep it interesting. I have renewed my commitment to tarp training. I am downright uncomfortable with the degree to which the tarp frightens Lilly. I know out on the trail the chances of a tarp appearing out of nowhere and flying toward us is slim to none, but something that looks like a tarp could appear: a sheet of snow, the reflection of sun on water, the big ole backside of a black bear! Only good things can come from de-sensitizing. After all, it could be this very kind of work that kept Lilly calm and still when that wire got wrapped around her leg on the trail a few years ago. She was terrified but she kept her feet on the ground. All four of them!

Sunday night already? Rats. I was just starting to enjoy myself.

1 comment:

lmel said...

Good for you for working on Lily's "fears". I'm just waiting for the first time we come across a bear--yikes! Who will be more frightened, me or Harley?

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