Saturday, December 8, 2012


Today is the first day I've been able to get away to see Rockie since Monday. On Tuesday, I was hit with some sort of nasty cold/flu bug, and I've spent most of my time since under a blanket on the couch. But today, I just couldn't take it anymore... so I bundled up in about a bazillion layers and went out to the barn, kleenex in tow. Even though it was really, really cold out. And windy, too.  Rockie was happy to see me... especially since I brought cookies. Little cow ;) 

After grooming her up a bit, we went out to the pasture to play around with some ground work. We did a little longing, worked on getting her to move off my body pressure, and then played around with some of the obstacles that Sue has built. 

The pedestal:

I know it might seem like I've put Rockie on a pedestal, but sheesh. 

The teeter-totter: 

In yet another dog life/horse life crossover moment. 
After we'd messed around a sufficient amount, I took her back to the barn to play dress up before we rode. Naturally.  

First, up was my Nunn Finer Figure 8 bridle. I've been itching to try this on her since I first saw her picture. I forgot it the last time I came out, but made sure to grab it today. And it didn't disappoint!

Future English pony in the making? I think yes. 
She looked so cute in it that I decided to ride in the Nunn Finer today. And she went great in it!  She seemed  to really appreciate the bit stability that the figure 8 noseband provided.  As usual, I worked a lot on helping Rockie be soft, supple, and round... instead of the hollow backed, forehand-heavy, nose-out way of going she's used to ;)  Using the random sagebrush plants that are currently growing in the pasture, I concocted an exercise of circles and serpentines which really seemed to help her loosen up and become more comfortable with lifting her back and forehand. What a good girl she is <3.  For those of you who are reading this blog.... I would LOVE any recommendations for exercises, books, videos etc that you think might benefit us. 

To me, there's "Nunn Finer" than this little mare :P
We practiced some stretchy walk and trot, did a little canter, and called it good for our ride for the day. Miss Pony Mare was decidedly lazier than the other few times I've ridden her so far... I'm anticipating spurs in our future.... once I gain a bit more strength in my lower leg and core. But overall, she was a very good girl. 

Pony wubbins <3
It was starting to get dark by the time our ride ended (ugh, winter!), but I still wanted to play around with more clicker training before I left. Rockie was great! By the end of the session, she was reliably doing a nose touch/bump to the cone on the ground, in a variety of locations. The article I referenced about how to teach this "trick" said that it could take weeks or months to get to this stage. Rockie is proficient and more than ready to move on to bigger/more difficult skills in just two sessions! Smart mare!

I am so thankful that we found each other <3. I can't believe we've "clicked" so quickly and completely. I can't wait to see what the future holds for us :)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cantering, Carrots, and Clickers

I was so excited about going to the barn this morning for my first "real" day with Rockie :)

Adorable mare :)
She wasn't quite sure who I was, naturally, but was polite enough while I put her halter on and led her out of her stall. I gave her a cookie, and after that, she was my BFF ;)

U gives me cookies?
I spent some time grooming and talking to her, then it was time to play dress up :P. I unfortunately forgot my very pretty, brand new Nunn Finer Figure 8 Event Bridle at home, but brought one of my western headstalls,  a pair of soft cotton purple reins, and a purple Happy Mouth loose ring snaffle to play with.

How about those cookies now?
The purple bit looked adorable on her, and I'll ride in it next time. I rode in the purple reins, and they were so soft and awesome! I'm nerd-girl excited to play event pony and put on the Nunn Finer next time. I think it'll look adorable on her cute little face.

Cute pony face, exhibit A. 
After we played dress up, I put her halter back on and we went out to the pasture and did some ground work. I played around with some Parelli stuff, longed her a bit, and basically just got us both in the right mental place for training. Then, I went and tacked her up, went back out to the pasture, and got on.

I started off our ride working on getting her loosened up and soft. She was being pretty good, but a little stiff to the right. After letting her stretch out at the walk and trot around the perimeter of the pasture, I did a lot of circles, spirals in and out, and serpentines around sagebrush plants (LOL), and after about ten minutes, she was doing much better. Hey... I haven't been in "regular work" for awhile, either... so I don't blame her for being a little bit stiff ;)

Being a good sport
Rockie was being really good, and I was feeling brave, so I decided to try a little canter and see how it went. I could tell she was wanting to run when we were trotting, and she hasn't been ridden steadily til March. She picked up the canter straight away, without bucking or bolting or doing anything naughty other than trying to fall on her forehand ;). After a few laps, we had a really nice, smooth cowpony lope going on. This girl can move! She has very smooth gaits to ride. I'm looking forward to trying her bareback someday. Sue tells me that she hasn't ever ridden her bareback before, but I am guessing (knock on wood) that Rockie won't be too upset about it.  :P

Speaking of Rockie getting upset about things (or not), I experienced her spook for the first time, LOL. Sue owns a couple of chickens who are ridiculously friendly.  They followed Rockie and I out to the pasture, and I guess found something delicious in a sagebrush bush. They happened to come bursting out of the bush on one of me and Rock's trot circles around the pasture. Rockie jumped, spun a half circle, tripped herself, snorted, and then sighed like she was embarrassed. So funny!

They were killer chickens, I tell you! :P
The two or three of you who read this blog probably know that a big part of my life is training and competing with dogs. Over the past few years, I've gotten really into clicker training. I like it because it is very positive, and teaches animals to become thinkers and problem solvers. Plus, it's pretty dang fun, and you can teach a lot of really fun tricks :). Today, I decided to mess around with the clicker with Rockie. We worked on doing nose touches to a cone, and she did great! She picked up on the connection between touching the cone and getting a cookie really quickly, and as you can see by the video, she got quite enthusiastic about it :P

I just love this little mare already, and can't wait to work with her again!

P.S. You might have noticed that I changed the title of the blog. Yeah, "Diary of a Re-Rider" just wasn't cutting it. It was too boring, cliche, and uninspired. Not that this is much better, but at least it's fun :P. Plus, it now matches the blog URL. If you aren't as immersed in pop culture as I am, here is what the title is playing off of: