Thursday March 8 

I made it out to see Cooper last night, I hadn't seen him since Feb 24 as I got sick on the 25th and still trying to get over it.

It was so good to see him. When he heard me he had his nose and face glued to the crack in the door, and I mean glued, it was like he was trying to squeeze out. I went into his stall to change his halter and he was rubbing his head all up and down me and leaning on me. I didn't let him do it for long, didn't want him to get to disrespectful, but it sure felt good to know that he really did miss me. He was also very dirty so maybe he was having a good scratch too. He just wanted to stay right with me at the beginning.

I took over an hour just trying to scrape mud off of him and I still didn't get him really clean. Oh well, it will be all back today LOL

That really tired me out doing that, I started a course of anitbiotics on Tuesday for a kidney infection and I am still weak. We did do a little walk, whoa and backing up in the aisle way. He would go one way with his hip and I would bend over and look and he would move it over. At the beginning he didn't listen and all I had to do was twirl the end of the rope toward his hip and he started to get the message. The treats were in his bucket and he knew it, so I made him walk quietly into the stall before taking off his halter, then I had him wait beside me until I said it was alright for him to move and go eat.

Cooper really made me feel good last night, I felt missed and loved, if a horse can make you feel that way. 

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Comment by Shirley on March 30, 2012 at 11:54pm

Sounds like you did lots of stuff and met the challenges.

Keep up the good work!


Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 30, 2012 at 8:39am

Cooper was very calm and polite last night when I went into his stall to get him and while grooming and standing ground tied. I left him to go a few feet away to the tack room and he never moved at all, what a good boy! I tacked him all up in his western gear and lunged him with side reins again. He did very good and there were 3 other horses going around him at a trot and a canter. I did about 10 minutes on each side then we did some giving to the bit on the ground. We went all over the arena and into the back scary corners. One of the riders had bunched up a coat and put it on the side rails and Cooper thought it was a monster. I walked up to it with him beside me snorting and tense. I touched the coat then picked it up then he was all right with it and was trying to eat it. He did get a little antsy back there again when a rider asked for a canter right near him and I had him do the head down with the giving to the bit and he relaxed.

He was so good on the ground that I felt confident to get on him. I struggled to get my leg up and over him tonight and he stood there looking back at me with no problems. Almost right away though I started to tense up, I really don't know why, and he could feel it and was moving around under me. I head difficulty getting him to whoa. I know it wasn't him, it was me. I really wish I could take lessons again but finances cannot permit it. I told Al to call out things to me but he didn't, he doesn't know what to look for. One of boarders mother was sitting with Al and suggested a few things to me which helped a little. I know all those things she was telling me too but the brain and body were not working.

At a calm moment I got off. Another rider was finished with her horse and she got on Cooper. She got him going really well and they looked great together. It was her first time in a western saddle and she found it very comfortable. 

I also didn't stretch before getting on Cooper tonight, next time I must remember to do this, it really makes a big difference.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 27, 2012 at 10:21am

Monday March 26 2012, we did some flexing in his stall before I took him out, he was great on the left side and stiff on the right, same with at the end of the night, still stiff on the right side. Groomed for at least 40 minutes in aisle at a ground tie, was talking too much with other boarders, then tacked him all up. Poor boy, I had the full cheek snaffle part stuck in his nostril when trying to bridle him, no wonder he tosses his head all over when I use that bit. The night before I used the training bridle with the loose ring snaffle and he was perfect bridling.

We worked first with the rope halter and 12' lead, doing Clinton Anderson exercises up to # 19 Lunging for Respect Stage 2. He wasn't pivoting on his hindquarters or rolling back very well. He was looking at me like I was crazy when I crouched down and stepped in front of his drive line to get him to turn. We will get better with practice.

We also need to practice a lot more on the touch and rub hindquarters and forequarters.

We walked to the back of the arena doing the C-pattern, or falling leaf. He did very well, just a little spooky back there tonight and then back up to the front of the arena. He also did well with the circling driving stage 1 and we tried stage 2 tonight moving more fluidly. I have to keep doing stage 1 until I get him to soften and bend more and have more slack in the lead rope. The rope was fairly taut most of the time.

Changing eyes, stage 1 is coming along nicely, he is keeping a nice belly in the rope while doing this one and is moving his shoulders away nicely when we change and go in opposite direction, but he still getting stuck now and then with yielding the hindquarters. This is likely my error, my body language is not that good and he is getting confused.

We did some run up and rub for the first time. I can't run very well and again he was looking at me like I was nuts, but he was really paying attention though. He backed up the first few times I ran at him then he relaxed and it didn't bother him anymore. I can't help but think how good he would be if a more experienced person was working with him, but I know he will still learn with bumbling me :)

I then did about 10 minutes of Lyons giving to the bit, which we haven't done for about 2 months, he did really well, moving his shoulders over great and nice back ups. I was too tired by this time so did not ride, and plus it was time for lights out in the arena.
It was funny, in aisle I leaned over to look under his neck at Al in tack room and he put his head down, then when I stood up he lifted his head also.
Gave him some beet pulp, carrots and vitamins, he backed away and waited nicely tonight for me to put it in his bucket.
I was very happy with our work tonight and how he responded, can't wait to get out and do it all again!

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 25, 2012 at 6:04pm

Had a couple of good visits with Cooper this Friday & Saturday. We did some flexing and played with the rope around his legs. Worked on a regular lunge line with side reins. Cooper did very good. He had been worked before using side reins with someone else but this was the first time I used them. His transitions to my verbal cues were great, except the whoa, he wants to turn and face me and then come right into me from the natural horsemanship training.

On Friday we were working at the front of the arena first then we moved to the back scary part. He started spooking and pulling back, not wanting to be there. We slowly worked our way back to the front where he calmed down and then we ended it on a good note. 

On Saturday I took him in first with the rope halter and 12' rope and we walked to the back of the arena, to the scary parts first. We did the c-pattern, or falling leaf while walking there and on the way back. He was doing very good, yielding his hind end and moving around me without bumping into me. I liked how he moved his shoulders away too, smoothly.

I decided to get on and ride again on Saturday, after almost 6 weeks of not riding. He was great, I was a little tense and at times he could feel that. I stopped one time and let out a big puff of air that I was holding in. I felt him relax when I did that too. We tried a jog, he did well going one way but when we were headed back towards the front of the arena he would speed up, scaring me a little so I would stop him and back him up. Have to work on that whoa, I have said that so many times. My timing was off, I would pull on the reins before giving him a chance to respond to my seat or verbal cue.

I didn't make it out to see him today, Sunday. I hope to go tomorrow after work, maybe ride, maybe not, we will see.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 21, 2012 at 9:03am

In my last video, A Few Days at the Barn with Cooper In Feb, around 1:45 I am trying to do that exercise. It's Clinton Anderson method, lesson 13 Groundwork Series II.  To get the horse to walk around you with an arc in their body, to yield their hindquarters with softness, and to follow the feel of the lead rope.

Also I think this fellow does a great job showing the Clinton Anderson lessons with his beautiful horse Jessie. Around 1:17 is lesson 13 Changing Eyes Stage 1. I love watching his videos on youtube. I am finally getting Cooper to go calm like this, he's almost too lazy at times LOL

I have noticed that many trainers do almost the same things, they just call them by a different name.

Comment by Shirley on March 20, 2012 at 10:44pm

Not sure what you mean by changing eyes stage one? Is that the same as having them go left and right and giving us one eye each way or something else? Got me wondering...

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 20, 2012 at 9:34pm

Thx Shirley!! Sensible, sometimes I don't feel like that but thanks so much for saying it. You too and Jackie, every woman, we are all brave to follow our dreams and not give up. Our horses are our love, companions, therapists.

Hope we all have a good week, saying this as my legs are aching and I can hardly move LOL I really have to do those stairs more often and like you said take a magazine for breaks.

Comment by Shirley on March 20, 2012 at 1:37pm

Margaret. So glad you got some assistance with the elevators!! Holy Cow!! Sounds to me like you did a really good job handling Cooper if he was that flighty w his first time outside w yu this year. Most people I know don't ride the first time they take their horse outside in the spring. A little gradual working up to it seems like a good idea unless you are either a very competent rider or have a very calm horse or both.

Hope you have a good week and hope to talk to you again soon.

You are a brave women!!! You face things in a sensible way.Enjoy!

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 20, 2012 at 1:25pm

That's a good idea, take some treats or something for barn manager for bringing Cooper in. Jackie, it sure is hard to go out and get them, I agree, I am too pooped after to do anything after. 

We headed out to the barn last night right after work. Actually I waited for half an hour for spouse to come down the stairs from my place. Luckily when we got home around 9 one of the members where I live had the key to the elevator and gave me a ride up. My legs are killing me from the walk down them on Monday morning. This morning there was someone manning the service elevator again to take people up and down, well mostly the disabled people, me being one and a few in wheelchairs. That was nice of them.

It was so humid at the barn last night, Cooper and I were sweating a lot just grooming, and he was standing. No breeze at all in the barn. I did a little changing eyes stage 1 from Clinton Anderson and some circling on the 12' rope. We then went to the outdoor arena, first time for both of us. We had to go through the back arena door and around the other buildings and Cooper was snorting at everything. I used the carrot stick and kept him moving in half circles and away from me, as he was trying to come in close to me and it was a little frightening. I put him on the 22' rope and did some trot and canter in both directions. He was good going to the left, usually his bad side, and the right he was very nervous and high headed. We stayed out there for about half an hour before slowly walking back in as the sun was going down. I didn't ride again, I was just too tired doing that work. We had the dog with us again and Al was walking her behind us which was making Cooper nervous, so I sent him and the dog off in front of us.

Al walked him around in the arena while I made up his bucket of treats. I had to sit down to do it as I had gotten dizzy and shaky while working Cooper. I had a glucerna drink and started to feel better. I just dread what it will be like when summer actually gets here. 

Comment by Jackie Cochran on March 20, 2012 at 9:25am

Hi Margaret, you are not the only one who needs someone to help by getting the horsies in from pasture!  I can't do it, it would make me too tired to ride.

Ah, the frustrations of life.  At least we get to ride!

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