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Bel Joeor Sale and Giveaway!

Amanda from Bel Joeor is hosting a big sale on her Etsy site and a giveaway on her blog!  She makes beautiful saddle covers and bags.  I highly recommend checking out her shop and entering her contest.  


Reva becomes a Big Girl - aka Chris Lombard Clinic

My biggest goal with Reva this year is to get her out and about, off the farm, having good positive experiences.  I planned to do some clinics, perhaps do a "schooling on the grounds" entry at the local dressage show, and bring her to my instructor's farm for a lesson or two.

On June 13, I brought Reva to her first ever off the farm experience.  We attended a clinic with local horseman Chris Lombard.  He is not a "natural horsemanship" person like Parelli (gag), but just a well grounded cowboy who teaches good horsemanship.  (Fun side note: Chris went to high school with my husband.....small world!!  LOL)  I wanted to get Chris' opinion of Reva and just see what she could do.  It was a 90 minute session, with the beginning on the ground and then riding at the end if I wanted to.  The farm where the clinic was held is a pretty low key boarding barn in New Gloucester, White Birch Farm, about 50 minutes from my farm.  I was excited and to be honest had high expectations of my big little filly.  :)

Here we are during the clinic!  :)

Reva was easy to load but as soon as we rolled out of the drive, I realized I may have bitten off more than I was bargaining for.  She BELLOWED for the first five miles or so, in her little high pitched filly voice.  She moved around a ton in the trailer and I got a little worried.  This was NOT how I wanted our day to go.  I picked up my horsey partner in crime, ST, and by then Reva seemed much calmer.  I figured she would be a mass of sweat and raring to go when we arrived.

We arrived and unloaded Reva; she was completely dry.  All she did was smear her manure all around on the floor of the trailer.....LOL!  Messy but easy to clean.  She was FINE.  She looked all around, sniffing and wondering where she was.  She was calm and interested in everything.  We arrived about 45 minutes before my lesson, because I figured it would be better to have time to kill than have to rush.  The farm owner allowed me to turn Reva out in a large paddock across from the ring.  I was sure Reva would bolt and cavort all over the paddock, but instead she walked the entire perimeter, visited the neighboring horses, and just hung out.  I was floored!  She was being SOOOOO good!  Here she is just checking things out.


ST and I sat and watched the last part of the lesson before mine.  Soon it was time to get Reva ready, so I went to catch her and bring her to the (outside) ring.  All my tack was already at the ring, and I just put her rope halter on her to start.  I brought her in as the last horse was finishing up with a tarp.  I walked her around the perimeter of the large ring, showing her the blue barrels at one end (she did not care.)  I walked her up to the small audience, which was behind a small crossrail.  Oh course, she started blowing and being silly.  She touched the pole with her nose and it fell.  LOL!  But she stood there nicely afterwards while Chris asked me the normal questions.  I told him about Reva, how I got her, what we had done to this point.  He asked me things about her level of confidence, how she interacted with people, other horses, etc.  I told him that she was pretty confident and curious, but she looked to me for reassurance.  He asked what I wanted to work on and I just said I wanted her to have a good experience off the farm for the first time.  He asked what the most difficult part of her training was so far.......I thought for a few seconds.  When I really could not think of anything, Chris responded to my silence with, "Well that answers that!"  So honestly, I really did not have a "problem" horse here, just a green mare who needed to learn something new.  And I wanted her to learn that getting on the trailer and going somewhere was fun.

Chris had me move Reva off on a lunging circle so he could see her move.  She has never been lunged before, so I did my best.  She was a little excited but calmed down quickly.  Chris seemed impressed that she had never been lunged before but did such a good job.  He then took her from me to show me some of the things he begins every horse with (and then he gave her back to me to try).


The first thing was to see if she would follow her handler.  Each time he moved, he wanted her to follow.  And of course, being the pocket pony that I told him she is, she latched right on to him.   She loves her people, and as Chris said, it was rare that she would start out already so latched on, especially to someone she had never met.  He explained that if she was not paying attention, he would have had her move out on almost a turn on the forehand around him, so that he could control where her feet/hind end were.  But Reva being Ms. SuperStar Mare, latched onto Chris without any prompting.

Then he did some backing with her....asking her to back by just lightly moving the lead and moving his hand in a backwards pointing motion.  She planted her feet and lifted her head....he asked with more energy in the rope....she finally took a few steps.  She had NO idea what he was asking, but she caught on more quickly than I thought she would.

 

He moved her off on a lunging circle, and she was much quieter, going up to the trot when asked and back down to the walk.  She stopped and faced him when she asked.  It was neat to see my little girl being so polite, listening and responding exactly how she was supposed to.  I think Chris was impressed, because he made comments about how most horses are not this "easy" and if he could show me a video of the average 10 horses doing this I would see a big difference.  I have always said Reva was super easy, but it was neat to see such real validation of that.


So then I got to work her a bit more.  She backed when I asked, but I had to remember not to move towards her.  He wanted me to ask her to back and nearly get to the end of the lead.  I wanted to move back with her.  And asking her to go out on the lunge circle was a bit of a re-learning experience too.  I have always been taught to move around behind the horse's shoulder and then drive them forward at their hindquarters, making a "pie" slice shape between me, the lunge line to the horse's head, and my lunge whip (or bight of the extra lunge line).  I asked Chris about this, since he seemed to do it differently.  He explained that he wanted the hand on the horse's head (let's say we are going counterclockwise here...) so the left hand to almost point the head in the direction.  So I would raise my left arm perpendicular to the ground and "point" her head in the direction I want her to go, while pushing her away at her girth area.  OK....that was different, but it made sense.  He explained that instead of ME moving out of HER way, but going back to her shoulder, I should teach her that SHE moves around ME.  Makes sense.

The first time was a little funny, because I wanted to move my feet.  LOL!  But then I tried it again and Reva moved her shoulders and then body perfectly away from me.  Once I saw and felt it, I understood.  Reva wanted to do the right thing, I just had to ask properly!  (Hmmmm....sounds a lot like my dressage lessons!!!  LOL)  She was awesome, just truly awesome.


Such a good girl!!  :)

Next Chris moved us onto the desensitizing and working with the horse's flight instinct.  I handed Reva back over to him and he started by just throwing the lead rope over Reva's body so that it landed on her opposite side.  She stood there.  LOL!  Her ears flickered but she ultimately was completely unfazed.  He then gently threw the rope so that it wrapped around her legs, both front and back.  She moved a little but again was ultimately unfazed.  By the third try she was standing completely still.  He threw the rope all around in the air, and the look on her face was priceless.  I said as much aloud, and Chris joked that she was "wondering what this guy with the really bad rope skills was doing."  LOL!  He said she figured she would just stand here and look pretty to distract from his bad skills.  She was perfect yet again.  I had such a feeling of pride for my little girl.  She was being SOOO good and seemed pretty happy.  :)


Chris decided to bring out the infamous plastic bag on a crop.  My husband used to make fun of a woman at a local barn where I boarded for a short time before the horses came home, as she always had her bag on a stick.  It is sorta funny, because when is a horse going to have to worry about a bag on a stick?  But it makes a good point with your horse to accept "scary" things.  While I am not going to lead my horses around 100% of the time with a bag on a stick (LOL), I do think the desensitizing value is good.  At first, Chris just walked around waving the crunchy sounding bag in front of him, bringing Reva along behind.  He explained that a horse should be able to "chase" the scary thing first.  Then he stopped her and allowed her to sniff it.  She lipped at it, wondering I am sure, if there were any treats inside!  He then began to wave it to the side of her.


I love her ears in this one.....  :)

This was probably the funniest part of the clinic to me.  Instead of being scared, Reva bobbed her head up and down as Chris waved the bag up and down.  ROFL!  And she did it on both sides!   I have never seen a horse do that before.  He explained that he was moving faster than he normally would, as she was being so good.  He put it on her shoulder and back.  Again she was fine.

I got to try the bag with her myself.  She did not bob her head up and down this time though; I think she was bored with the game.  :)  I did put it further back on her side, on her haunches and legs.  Again Chris told me and the audience about how most horses are not this "easy" and if he could show me a video of the average 10 horses doing this I would see a big difference.  She accepted the scary bag much more quickly than he thought she would.



So then Chris had me move her off on a lunge circle while he really waved the bag out on the edge of the circle.  She had a moment of WOW and bucked a bit on the circle.  Nothing major though.  Soon Reva was trotting and then walking quietly around me.  He waved the bag and she would startle, but not bolt.  She would go all the way around the circle in a happy easy walk, and then as soon as he was behind her on one spot of the circle, he would wave it a bunch of times.  She would startle just a tiny bit and then keep walking.  He did that about five times, waving it at the same spot in the circle.  Finally he said that she was not afraid, she would just forget about him and the bag so quickly in the seven or so strides before she got to that part of the circle.  LOL!

I kind of wanted to try the tarp too, but then Chris was asking me if I wanted to ride.  I only had about 20 minutes left of my lesson!  I was impressed with Reva's attention span for that amount of time already!  I really wanted to get on her at a strange new place though, and I knew she was mentally fine.  ST helped me tack her up and I mounted with no problems.  Again Chris said he was impressed because her expression never changed when I mounted.  She went forward at an easy walk and he had me go through his "pre-flight check" as it was.  Now I cannot remember exactly what he said besides checking to see if the horse moves off the leg, stops easily, and bends....LOL!  But I do remember that Reva had no problem bending her nose to my left boot, but had a very hard time bending her neck to the right.  And she has a harder time moving around in a turn on the forehand to the right.  This is what we are working on anyways.....bending and flexing.  Chris reminded me to work on this on the ground.  We trotted around the ring, and Chris told me she looked ready to show.  LOL!  Next year, next year.....

After doing some trotting and working on bending, Chris asked me on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, what my confidence level was about cantering.  I grinned and said 10!  I wanted to see how Reva would act, and as I told Chris, the footing in the ring looked really soft (it was a nice thick layer of shredded rubber!)  She picked up her left lead with no issues and we actually got a nice easy canter.  I wanted to canter to the right, but Chris wanted me to get off so he could quickly show me how to work on bending her neck on the ground.  It was already 12 noon, time for my lesson to be over and time for him to have a lunch break before his afternoon session!

Yeehaw, motorcycle mare!  LOL!


I must say this was one of the best clinics I have attended.  It was fun to work with Reva with Chris.  And I am SO PROUD OF REVA!  She was a rockstar.  Chris shook my hand when I dismounted, telling me I was a good rider and had done a great job with Reva so far.  He told me to continue exactly what I have been doing and that next he would recommend we work on bending and lateral flexion, which he acknowledged I already was working on.  I admitted it had been almost 2 weeks since I had ridden Reva and he looked shocked.   He told me for a four year old who had only had about 25 rides on her, I was way ahead of the game.  He also told me that one of the audience members had remarked how good Reva looked under saddle and another had said, "Well look at her rider."  That is a nice compliment.  :)  I know I have my equitation faults, but I am also confident in the saddle and I know that is why Reva is so good.  Chris admitted to me that he did not believe me in the beginning when I said Reva was confident.  He figured she would be timid, just from seeing her in the first few moments in the ring, spooking at the crossrail in front of the audience.  He was happy to say he was wrong.  He said that she was confident because I was confident.  He said that with a nervous or timid rider/handler, he was not sure that Reva would be so calm.  That was pretty cool to hear as well.

Reva was barely sweating as I untacked her, happy to have her face stuffed with horse cookies at the trailer.  LOL!  She drank her water and was pretty happy overall.  I am just so proud of my filly.  I guess she is really a big girl now....LOL!  She was happy to be back home and whinnied to Sparky and Dreamy, who whinnied loudly right back.  :)  Reva got to spend the afternoon in her grass pasture, which was a nice end to her day.  This morning Reva was COVERED with shavings on her right side, which made me laugh.  She always lays on her right side at night, but she must have been a tired horse!  She had shavings covering her body from her ears to her tail.

Thank you to ST for accompanying me to the clinic and taking tons of pictures!  :D  She told me she thought she had taken about 100 photos....I got a text later in the evening telling me she had taken 198!!!!  HOLY CRAP!  LOL!  :)  Here is the entire album....

I rode Dreamy when I got home after the clinic, and she was awesome.  Excellent stetchy trot circles, SLOW canters, and a relaxing walk down the trail at the end to cool out.  Life is good!!!!!!  :) :)

Comments

Anonymous said…
What a great experience, and what a wonderful mare you have!
STB Eventer said…
Thanks! She is just a super girl. :)
AareneX said…
applause! applause! applause!

(and if can ever catch up with the nitwit who TAUGHT my mare to be afraid of the stupid plastic bag, I'm gonna KLONK 'em. Chris' approach makes so much more sense!)
Wow..love the photos and the program. I so enjoy doing things like this with my boy. Glad your girl was such a rockstar.
I want to know more about what Chris said abou lateral flexing during the canter! :)