Thursday, June 9, 2011

Time to Think

I haven't written lately mostly because I've been too busy. I still have plenty of Royal-time and other happenings, but just not the time to write about it.

Since Carriage House went fairly well, I signed us up for a cross-country schooling event this Saturday. The idea is to let Royal encounter "unusual" obstacles, like banks and ditches, in a laid-back setting. I had the idea to tape my clicker to the handle of a crop so I could "click" Royal while riding. I was able to find a cheap yet sturdy crop and, while it looks ugly, it works. I was able to play plenty of Friendly Game with Royal but he still tends to get a bit amped when I carry it. On Sunday, we were doing some jumping and I had two 2'6" fences set up in a four stride line. Royal did it in three. So I was thinking I'd scrap that idea since he'd already be pretty energetic going cross-country anyway, and I didn't want to add to it.

Fast-forward to Wednesday. After a great warm-up, including a Soft Feel at the canter, I created a scary obstacle consisting of a bright blue western saddle blanket draped over a 15" high pole on the Bloks. Royal trotted right up to it... and slammed on the brakes 5 feet away. I was surprised but laughed. We tried again, and he overjumped it by two feet. A couple more passes and he was jumping over it like nothing. So I decided to make it into a "ditch" by laying the blanket under a 9" high pole. For some reason, he still spooked at it, but did hop over. Once he was doing that pretty well, I took the pole away. For some reason, that made him almost melt down completely. He would completely stop any forward motion beyond a certain point, so I eventually got the Clicker Crop out and would tap my leg until he at least tried to go forward. I wasn't trying to make him go over it, just try. He did go over, but it was a scared little deer leap. He wasn't acting like an RBI, just wasn't to keen on getting close to the Blanket of Death.

It took a few sideways leaps before he went straight over it and then it took what felt like ten million Squeeze Games more before he went across it like it was no big deal. And we did end up messing it up.

Luckily, it's washable. But it was so weird how frightening he found the blanket just lying on the ground with nothing above it. So, trekheners and liverpools yes, ditches no. He also got quite a bit of emotional sweat, and was breathing quite hard even though all we did was walk. Much more mental/emotional exertion than physical. I just tried to be as quiet as possible and let him work it out, although I did have to do a few strong one-rein stops when he tried to bolt away from the jump. Hopefully he was able to work out all his demons, although I may attach a savvy string to my saddle on Saturday. That way I can help him out if he gets stuck, but he won't feel threatened.

Royal enjoying a nice roll in the arena after being hosed off.

I also sold the big trailer and got a new used one. Will post pictures of the new ones when I can.

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