Friday, February 27, 2009

Lesson #5, or Willow is no longer a mullet

I had a good lesson last week. Willow was much softer and didn't throw any fits. The trot is really coming along, and even the canter showed noticeable improvement. And Willow wasn't a steaming wreck when we were through. I think it's a combination of her increasing fitness and her greater mental acceptance that she can actually do what I'm asking.

Trainer Leslie had nice things to say, one of which was "Your mare is no longer a mullet." Meaning, Willow is no longer business in front, party in the back. She's starting to actually use her hind end, instead of letting those hind legs do pretty much anything but carry weight.

This week's triumph was a composed, productive schooling session during a marathon shooting session at the nearby gun range, set to a backdrop of heavy rain with gusty winds. Good girl, Willow.

In television news, I am perhaps the biggest Joss Whedon fan on the planet, but I am finding his latest show Dollhouse to be just dreadful. This is his followup to Firefly? Really? On a happier note, I'm also watching Rome, and I just discovered Supernatural and have become quite the Deangirl.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Proof of medium, and Endospink

I grabbed the above still from the video I took yesterday to show that Willow really was offering a decent medium on the lunge. The girl has the physical talent; now we've just got to get the brain on board.

Speaking of difficult horses . . . on YouTube I subscribe to Endospink's videos. He's an extremely gifted horseman who breaks racehorses in Japan. He's Australian and has a killer sense of humor. At his facility, he's the guy who gets the youngsters that no one else can handle (meaning he's the guy who has to deal with these horses that have already realized how powerful and scary they can be.) In addition to his humor, incredible riding ability, and fearlessness, what I love about him is that he's never a bully. He loves every horse he works with and is on their side 100%.

Best quote: "He's comin' to town and shootin' the town up, and once the dust settles, he realizes there's no one in town." Ha!

There's another awesome video where the horse he's working with lies down whenever anyone gets on. So the horse lies down, Endo jumps off. The horse goes to get up, Endo jumps back on. The horse stands up and realizes the rider is still there. Damn! Repeat about four times, and the horse never lies down in protest again.

His YouTube handle comes from the fact that he sometimes wears pink breeches. Hee. If you watch some of his videos, you'll see he uses a technique called the TAP in certain instances. I don't know enough about the technique to have an opinion. I am Switzerland. But I have to say I don't begrudge Endo whatever techniques he needs to save these problem horses from slaughter.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Flipped-out mare

Willow has been showing me her difficult side for the past week, and it's been exhausting. I've been asking a lot of her since we started lessons, and I think her wee brain is melting down. As predicted, the canter fell apart for several days, with Willow convinced she couldn't possibly keep the forward on a shorter rein. Plus side: we got some pirouette canter. Minus side: said pirouette canter involved Willow's nose pointed to the ceiling.

Other challenges from Willow's bag o' tricks: refusal to do anything but wacky pirouette canter to the left. Charging through the outside rein to the left. Traveling extreme haunches-in to the right. Basically just giving me the equine version of a middle finger all week.

By mid-week I was almost ready to call out the dentist and the chiropractor, but last night and today things were better. Today Willow even offered some nice floaty mediums in trot on the lunge. So I think/hope she has just been testing me and we are getting back on track again. I knew what I was getting into when I bought myself a mare.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lesson #4

Things to remember:

1. I need to keep more weight in my left stirrup. In both directions, I'm a little shifted to the right.

2. I must establish the outside rein more solidly in walk and trot. When the outside rein is really there, Willow stops her little freak-outs.

3. It's time to shorten the reins in canter to the same length I have them in trot/walk. The canter will likely fall apart for a few weeks, but I'll keep the faith. The trot fell apart and came back together; canter will do the same.

Marko update:

The old guy is doing super! I panicked momentarily when I woke up at 1:00 that first night and he was still stoned. I thought, oh my god, they gave my dog brain damage. But the next morning he was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Drunk as a skunk

My elderly vizsla Marko went under anesthesia today to have his teeth cleaned and to have a benign skin tumor, which had begun bleeding, removed from his back. He's been on the couch for 45 minutes now in this exact pose:

I keep gently pushing his head and chest to his left so he's resting against the cushion, and he keeps sliding back to the right into a disorganized sprawl. Poor drunk dog.

The bandage on his forearm is pink with purple hearts.

Sunday, February 1, 2009