Monday, I started down the road towards "Make Bobby Like Me."
*Ohhhh.....oreo cookie cake on tv......must. stay. focused.
*I'm surprised anyone reads this. How you guys put up with me.....
So anyway! I spent a good long time with a curry and my new friend Absorbine Vet Linament with fancy spray attachment so I don't have to glom the shit all over my hands. Bobby is definitely sore throughout his topline so that's where I went to work. He had his ears pinned back the whole time and played the game "Grind your teeth or try to bite your evil mother--you choose!" with gusto.
After thirty minutes of not really being friends, I took him up to the round pen to longe. His ears were pinned mostly back throughout, but Bobby is a product of an equestrian program at an ag school and longeing is his forte. While clearly not happy about it, he did everything without having to ask twice. I broke it up into lots of little pieces: trot two laps, walk one lap, trot one lap, walk three laps, trot four laps, canter one lap, come in, and so on.
To finish off bonding time, we stopped in the outdoor to do some fun in-hand work. The jump with cones under it was disassembled so the cones were on their sides between the standards and the pole was a step out past them. I made Bobby step over the cones with his front feet and stop, and then step over the pole with his front feet and cones with his backs and then stop, and once more with his back feet over the pole. He fumbled through this exercise the first time and plowed through me, so I gave him a sharp tug on his lead rope and we tried again. This time he was ready to listen and was waiting for me to tell him what to do. We went through twice perfectly and he got tons of praise for a job well done.
Next we tried to walk over a baby X. He walked right through it the first few times and was starting to get flustered that the poles kept coming down, so we went through the cones once more for a confidence booster and tried again. This time, he was looking to me to tell him what to do and he sloooowly put one foot over at a time and made it over without incident. We tried again and he went happily over.
Finally, I got him to walk over the trail class bridge for the first time ever in both ways. He was ready to do what I asked him without question at this point so I kind of crowded him onto it and then praised him like the smart donkey he is as he walked over it. We ended with a little more massage and linament and loads of cookies. He was definitely pleased with himself and he didn't seem quite so eager to hate me when I left.
|robert's opinion of me.|
|ah! they're after me!|
|"where are our cookies?!"|
|"you're not leaving until i get the cookies, lady!"|
|double trouble: trip and spyder.|
I warmed him up on the longe and his trot was much bigger and his ears looked much happier. Clearly I haven't been working hard enough on loosening him up during grooming and he appreciated the extra effort. BO and I set up a game plan for the lesson: start off just seeing how he goes and if he starts to spiral downwards, BO will be there to help defuse the situation; work on warm up techniques to keep him calm and happy; and if all goes well, maybe run through the test at the end.
BO kept us on our toes and didn't give us time to anticipate things and get tense. She'd call out the movements she wanted us to do almost to the point where we were past where she wanted us to do them, so Bobby and I had to be paying attention to each other, but we couldn't work ourselves up to a hot mess "preparing" to do them.
Things we did:
* Lots of half halts. I like BO because she's not afraid to tell the horse "Absolutely not!" Instead of teeny half halts over and over and over again when Bobby started rushing, she told me to HALF HALT and get his attention back on me, and then ask quietly.
* I did a lot of standing in my stirrups while we started a new exercise to help Bobby free up his back. He really appreciated this and was in tune with what was being asked of him instead of worrying about me bouncing around up there. Also, BO suggested lots of standing work to stabilize my lower leg as it's decided it likes to swing too much for Bobby's sensitive self.
* A lot of what we did was the test broken down into parts, but executed at different parts of the arena so Bobby couldn't anticipate what we were doing. For example, we picked up the right lead canter at X from the walk. We cantered to the left spiraling out in three big circles until we reached C and then walked across the diagnol from there. We halted down the centerline from C and from A coming in from the left instead of right. We halted at X across the diagnol.
* Counter bend work at the trot to help straighten him out down the centerline.
Overall, I'm feeling much less hopeless about Sunday. I'm going to do more ground work with him today and ride him Thursday, then lesson once more Friday, and finish off with a good longe Saturday in between packing and bathing.
I promise I'll