Friday March 1 2013

It was great to see Cooper tonight, I hadn't seen him since last Saturday. He lost his new halter again that I just put on him on Saturday night, the barn manager said he lost it the next day after I put it on him. I am not buying anymore breakaway halters, it's costing too much and they won't take his halter off because they worry about any of them getting out and not being able to catch them with no halter on. Just in the past week not too far from us, horses had gotten loose and some were killed on the highway, that is just horrible, poor things :(

I put the rope halter on and groomed him while he ground tied. I left him standing there for at least 15 minutes while I stood in the arena door with a few others watching another rider with her saucy redhead mare. I had never seen this mare act as bad as she was, rearing, bucking, not wanting to move forward, scary!

tacked Cooper up with his saddle thinking I might ride tonight but by the time I was ready there was no one riding and I just decided to do groundwork with the 12' rope.He did very well, a little spooky though, and just wanted to stay close to me so I tried to keep him out of my personal space. We went to the back of the arena and I had him squeeze by the poles in the corner then we did sideways in front of the back arena door. He did a lot of snorting at the snow at the bottom of the door so we stayed there for a bit until he relaxed. We did the falling leaf, C-pattern from one end to the other a few times. After he got comfortable doing this I asked for a little more energy and he had his butt working so good. In one video Al took you can really see him working very well. We worked for about 30 minutes, maybe a little longer, I really enjoyed our session tonight.

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Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on April 8, 2013 at 10:53am

Friday March 29 2013

Went to see Cooper after the Can-Am Equine event in Orangeville. I got to see and meet my favorite clinician, Jonathan Field. The line up was amazing! Jonathan Field, Guy McLean, Stacey Westfall, Lindsay Grice, so many in one place and lots of suppliers to shop. I got a few nylon halters for turnout at $5 each and bought a Myler bit from Jonathan Field's booth.

Cooper seemed to be very happy to see me tonight. I played with Cooper with the 22' rope and rope halter doing circles, transitions and draw to me. He was very good and connected to me.

Sunday March 31, 2013

We went to the Can-Am for 3 days as I bought a weekend pass for Al & I. After we went to see Cooper. It was around 4 p.m. so the horses were still outside and we had to go out and get him. Cooper was not too far out and came when we called him. All the horses split as soon as he laid his ears back and got out of his way. The smallest one in the herd and he's always trying to be herd leader. There is 1 horse ahead of him now, 2 of the other bosses moved. We did a little ground work on 22' rope again. Cooper trotted to me fast one time when doing the draw. Then almost trotted another time when Al was there with the camera, he walked fast. He was connecting around me very well again, not wanting to go out too far away from me. I think he is actually starting to think of me as boss in his little herd of 2.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 26, 2013 at 2:58pm

Monday March 25 2013

We did ground work first with 22' rope, doing the responsibility circle allowing him some time to get the bugs out and try to relax then we traveled to the back of the arena and did some trot and walk past the scary corners. We did some half circles with my back to the wall and had him touch the wall and rest for a few moments until he licked and chewed then did the other direction. There was another boarder riding around us and a few times we would be going in the same direction side by side and he would pin ears at the other horse so I would wiggle the rope to have him pay attention to me and continue on. I asked him for a canter transition several times and let him go a few strides then disengaged the hind to turn and face me. I let the strides get longer and he started to pull again so went back to fewer strides before stopping him. After doing this a few times I then started to walk fast backwards while coiling him into me. I watched a few DVD’s from Jonathan Field's Liberty Series over the weekend and got a whole new set of things to try with Cooper. I got this series back in May 2010 and had quickly watched the first DVD then but didn’t continue on with the rest and missed a lot of great information in them. Cooper was looking at me funny again as this was a new thing for him as I had never tried it with him. He caught on quickly and actually came to me near the end with some speed and interest and then I would rub his head as he licked and chewed, processing it all.

I have to watch these DVD's over and over to get it right, the draw and drive, follow me game, stick to my shoulder, responsibility circle and putting it all together from the first 2 DVD's in the series. And I like that he said in one of the DVD’s that we don’t have to run because my fastest run only gets Cooper walking a little bit faster, not trotting. I asked for a trot in a smaller circle and started to coil the rope in and he bent around me softly and then I turned with him and brought him up beside my shoulder and stopped. He seemed to really like this and had a very soft look in his face with his head lowered and curved around me a little. We did this on both sides.

I decided to put the bridle and bit on and ride as he was so relaxed. We stood quietly for a few moments when I first mounted before walking off.  We followed another rider down around the back of the arena and I tried to keep my eyes ahead to where we were going and stop looking at him and at the scary spots. At first I was really gripping, the scared death grip, but when I tried to relax when I found myself doing this.  We stayed at the walk for about 15 minutes going all over the arena, doing the zig-zagging serpentine exercise that we did in one of our past lessons, going from one end of the arena along the short side and changing directions then going back the other way, staying in the middle off of the rail while another rider cantered around us. I will have to watch the videos again that I have of that lesson, Lesson 11 on Sept 15 2011 at Five Star Ranch. I have to try and stick to one lesson at a time, stop trying to throw in a whole bunch of lessons, not right now anyway until I get back to where we were in our riding.

We walked around the arena several times before asking for a trot. He started dropping his shoulder in when going to the right and after I was done riding I thought that maybe my prosthesis was putting too much pressure on his left side. He was very dull to my right leg and inside rein; I had to use a lot of pressure and finding it hard to keep him between the reins. Also have to practice one of our other lessons, Lesson 8 on Aug 25 2011, moving his shoulders over when drifting off the circle at a walk. This one will help with that bulging shoulder.

Wow, like a light bulb going on it hit me and at that moment I remembered to give him a reward and release the pressure when he tried to do what I was asking. My senior moment brain has been forgetting to do this when I ride him, poor Cooper! I also have to keep trying to loosen up on the reins. It felt like I was holding them very tight and short but when I look at the videos they don’t look looser than I thought they were. I will have to remember to do more on the ground to get him to move sideways from a touch on his side. Also work more on the shoulder control with maybe using cones the way we did in Lesson 12 on September 22 2011.  And practice more of the Lyons ground work with the bit and bridle, doing hip, shoulder, shoulder exercise and the clockwork exercise to get him moving lighter off the bridle and get my hands lighter. John Lyons says on one of his DVD’s that he doesn't start using his legs for a year or maybe even longer, it's all with the bridle, moving the shoulders and hips, which is better for me as neither one of my legs work right. I would like to learn how to use 2 dressage whips as a leg cue also. As I look back at my videos from our lessons together I see that we have taken several steps backwards in the last year or so. Have to get back to where we were before.

We then did the zig-zagging serpentine exercise at a trot and he was bulging out a lot again to the right, hmm, heading to the barn door, or moving away from my prosthesis? We went up and down the arena several times doing this at a trot. I then did the 3 step stop exercise, trot 3 steps then whoa and back a little if he didn't stop. He got this again very quickly, stopping fast. We did some roll backs at a walk then did them at a trot on the rail and in the middle of the arena. We even tried a few turns, like spins, well beginnings of them but he was walking out more than spinning. I have to remember to try and use the touch off my legs more and releasing when he moves.

We had a great session tonight, I think it was almost an hour we were playing and I was very happy with him. We have lots to work on, lots of time, and I have to slow down and not try to do it all in one ride. Going back and doing this all is helping, to gain my confidence back and get us working well together again. I hope to get out again on Tuesday to play with Cooper again, meanwhile I have brought some DVD's to work and going to try and watch them again in my spare time.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 25, 2013 at 10:25am

Saturday March 23 2013

I picked Cooper’s feet and went right in to the arena without grooming to do some groundwork with the 22' rope, rope halter and carrot stick. We did some responsibility circles first for relaxation as shown in the Jonathan Field DVD 3 from the ground series. We did trot first then a canter. At the beginning when asked for the canter he got a little saucy and kicked dirt in my face a few times. He pulled on the end of the rope trying to escape so I let him go a few strides then disengaged the hindquarters and had him turn and face me then sent him in other direction. We travelled to the back of the arena and he trotted around with just a few snorts at the back corners. The poles were gone but now there were cones there, new things, but he handled them fine. A few times when going near a cone he would stop to sniff them, then I would head him back out again. I backed him from a distance then drew him back in, the yo-yo game.

I then put 4 cones down and did some circles around them, then going out and around one cone and inside the next, out and around the next and inside the next one. We did some figure 8’s at different spots and changed directions in the middle several times. His life came up many times when changing direction but he stayed soft on the end of the rope and listened very well. Then we did some sideways over to the sweet spot along the rail, doing both directions and both sides of the arena. When doing this another boarder came in and started to lunge her horse. She was travelling around the arena counter clockwise so we did that too to stay out of their way and not get too close to each other. One time our horses got side by side and her horse got cranky and kicked out at Cooper and Cooper pinned his ears at him.

We did some walk, whoa and back up along the long sides of the rail and finished up with some on the short side near the barn door. He really watches me while doing this. It was the first time trying this exercise on this short side of the arena and at first Cooper was confused and tried to go out ahead of me and circle. After a few corrections he was listening well and stopping with me and backing straight. We played for about 45 minutes tonight and I was tired out from all that walking. I even tried to run a few times but can’t do it and only manage to get Cooper looking at me like I am an alien.

I groomed him some more while Al put his treats in his bucket. He was getting antsy in the aisle and tried to back into his stall a few times because he knew his food was in there. Al has started to put it in his bucket while we are in the arena but forgot tonight.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 22, 2013 at 2:51pm

Thursday March 21 2013 There were a lot of people riding in the arena tonight when we got there. I groomed Cooper and was just going to give him his treats but then a few left the arena so we decided to go in and do a some groundwork with the 12' rope and rope halter and the carrot stick and we did some of the primary language from Jonathan Field dvd 2 from the ground series. We did small circles with him walking around me and the stick on his back then disengaging the hindquarters and have him turn and face me. I hadn't done much of this for a very long time with Cooper, maybe a few years, and he didn't  forget a thing. Backing up from a touch on the nose and chest. Yielding the front and hind from a touch and then with driving pressure. We watched a few of the other boarders jumping over a small jump. Cooper was really watching so I decided to jump him over it too. The first time he jumped great, it was a little x, then he just stepped over the next few times. They moved it up bigger but I didn't  ask him to try that one. We did some responsibility circles with them jumping around us. A few times he pinned his ears when one would go past him and I would jiggle the rope to pay attention to me. After they were done and walking around cooling their horses off I did some sideways movement and parked Cooper up on the rail in several different spots. When we went to the back of the arena he did his usual snorting and blowing but I asked him to go up against the rail and stand for a moment until he started to relax. 

Then we did some walk, whoa and back up on the rail. I just can't seem to move fast enough to get him to a trot, might have to teach Al how to do this, but he doesn't run well either. He caught on really well, picking it up right away from years ago. I would go and he would go, then stop and he stopped and I backed and he backed. He had his ear on me at all times listening and watching. I tried to go out away from the wall but we are not very good at that movement yet, it will come with more practice. I then did a little leading from a distance with him stopping when I did and if he was too close then I would wiggle the rope and increase the pressure until he moved back more. My stomach started to act up again so we had to pack up and head home, it was almost 10 p.m. anyway. It was a great little play session and I look forward to doing it again, if my stomach will stop acting up and let me go to the barn!!

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 18, 2013 at 10:20pm

Saturday March 16 2013

I didn't get out all week again because of tummy troubles. I sure hope I am better to go to Can-Am on Easter weekend. I bought tickets for the 4 day event, even though can only go 3 of those days, but it's still worth it to be able to see so many great clinicians in one place, Jonathan Field, Guy McLean, Stacey Westfall, Lindsay Grice and more!!

I put the rope halter on and quickly groomed him then we went into the arena and did some play on the 22' rope.
I have been watching Jonathan Field ground DVD's over again and saw where I was going wrong with the canter online. Made me chuckle to myself when he said at the end of one to watch these over and over and each time you will find a new little gem! And I did!!

When asking Cooper to canter he has lots of go alright, but he just keeps going and going and pulling on the end of the rope, then he sometimes will act up and buck and pull right out of my hands. In the Ground DVD 3: Developing a Great Riding Horse From the Ground, Jonathan shows how to work with a horse that doesn't canter well. I had watched it a long time ago and decided to try it with Cooper tonight, since there was no one else in the arena if he went to act up and get in their way. I asked him to canter and then brought him back in after a few strides. He started to look at me with a new interest, he always looks at me but there was a different look in his eyes this time. Several times when asking for the canter he went to do a little attitude thing, pinny ears, and bending his body like he was going to buck then I yielded his hindquarters and brought him back in just before he did anything. We then did some shaping circles and sideways into a sweet spot along the rail. He was listening really well to me tonight. The arena was bright with new light bulbs tonight and we could have went to the scary back end of it but I just stayed up near the front and the middle. I didn't make it to the barn Sunday or Monday, he is having lots of dwell time on that exercise!

I'm in no hurry to get on and ride, so doing ground work is great. Looking forward to doing a lot more of these exercises and going back and doing more with the ones from Ground DVD 2: Clear Communication - The Cornerstone of Your Relationship

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 12, 2013 at 10:49am

Thursday March 7 and Friday March 8 2013

We went out to groom and give Cooper some beet pulp. We weren't  going to see him this weekend.

Monday March 11 2013 

We worked on the ground for at least 30 minutes and by that time again I was just too tired to ride. Lizzy was in the arena sitting on her horse and I asked if she wanted to ride him again and a huge smile came on her face as she beamed and said Yes!! She loved riding him the last time and said she really likes him. She started off right into the trot and circles and he remembered everything she did the time before. When they headed to the back of the arena he went right around without a spook. She had to reinforce the stop a few times and at first he was trying to run out at the shoulder when circling, but a few corrections and he was working wonderfully with her. They did serpentine's and figure 8's then some circles in all of the corners. He was really getting softer and listening well and then they did some canter in both directions again. When going to the left he was getting the wrong lead several times and then she would bring him back to a trot and start again. He wasn’t too sweaty tonight, not like the first time she rode him. I untacked him and put his cooper on then gave him some beet pulp and an apple. We had the camera tonight but didn't get very good still photos, they were almost all blurry. When we left the barn I noticed I was hardly dirty at all. The barn management had the indoor arena oiled and the footing was amazing. There was hardly any dust with the other 3 horses running around us and normally doing the bridle work on the ground we kick up a lot of dust.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 8, 2013 at 12:08pm

Monday March 4 2013 

Did ground work first with rope hackamore. Went into all the corners doing approach and retreat. I did half circles near the back arena door where he was snorting and spooking again at the snow on the bottom. We did falling leaf in half the arena as another boarder was having a lesson in the front part. There were 2 others loping around us and Cooper was fine with it. It was like a merry go round, they were trotting one way and Cooper was going the opposite, it was fun.
I then decided to get on and we just sat for a few minutes relaxing and watching others run around. Al left after helping me on as he was putting a nibble net in Coopers that another boarder loaned us to try. I hadn't ridden Cooper since Jan 10 but another boarder rode him on the past Saturday. The stirrups were one hole up from the other girl and really bothering my prosthesis but I rode anyway. I was very tense, gripping way too much with my legs and holding the reins too short. I had a hard time getting my leg over the saddle, oh boy!
I stayed at the mounting spot for a few minutes and by the time I was ready to walk off the lesson was over, so we stayed in the front of the arena to begin. The other 2 who were loping around were walking their horses out so I followed them down to the scary end. Cooper tensed all up and raised his head high near the back door. I did small circles down in that end and stayed there for a little while working on this. I got him comfortable going to the left and then when we changed going to the right we had to start all over again. He froze and spun around a few times just when we were nearing the poles in the far corner and again I stayed there doing circles over and over, just at a walk. I was tense through all of this too, so he felt that. He finally was able to go past the scary objects but every time we went there he still stiffened and raised his head high. I tried to look where we were going and not at him and the scary object. When I got him to go past a few more times with a little more relaxation we moved to the front of the arena and tried some trot circles. He was really running out at his shoulder and not listening well, and of course I was nervous and not helping things. Up here at the front every time we went by the half open door he would tense up and there was someone's sweater laying on the boards which he was spooking at. I have been watching Jonathan's DVD's a lot lately but darn if I can remember once I get in the saddle and get all nervous on Coopers back.
We tried a trot circle in both directions then I got off. I put the stirrups down when I got off so they would be at the right length next time I get on. My legs were really sore the next day from all that gripping.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 4, 2013 at 9:42am

Saturday March 2 2013

I tacked Cooper all up and we did some ground work first with the rope halter and 12' rope. We went straight to the back of the arena in the beginning. He was snorting at the snow at the bottom of the back door this time but was good in both scary corners. We spent about 10 minutes down there, approach and retreat, doing half circles to get him to relax. We did sideways with his nose in towards the wall, all around the long sides of the arena, he did excellent at that. We have to start trying it with his bum to the wall. We did the falling leaf, c-pattern down the middle in both directions. He did great when we were heading to the front of the arena, using his hind end to turn with his legs up under him, but when heading to the back of the arena he just slowly turns. Several times when asking him to turn he while going to the back of the arena he would step over sideways and try to stop. I don't know if I was doing this with my body language or he was just being saucy and not wanting to do it.

We worked on the ground for at least 30 to 45 minutes and by that time I was just too tired to ride. Another young girl had just finished up with her horse and asked if I wanted her to ride him and I jumped at it and said yes!! She barrel races with her horse and has ridden Cooper a few times at this barn. She was in my riding lessons when I went to Claireville Ranch/Double Bar back in 2008. Her father was telling me she has been riding since she was 2 years old.When she first headed to the back of the arena he started acting up and not wanting to go past the back door or the poles in the corner. She worked him back there doing circles and eventually he calmed down. He was really testing her but she didn't let him get away with anything and they started to work great together. They started to do serpentines and figure 8's then some circles in the front corners. He was really getting soft with her and listening well then they did some canter in both directions. He was very unbalanced, I don't do canter work with him yet and I am probably not the best one to do it with him as I am so green myself and unbalanced also. He was really sweaty from this workout, he never gets worked hard with me, and she cooled him out for a long time after. I untacked him and she took him back into the arena and walked him around having him follow her all over and yielding the forequarters. She loves the ground work that I do with him and is so happy when he responds to her so well. She said he was very smart and picked things up quickly. We worked on a lot of the same exercises when I was taking lessons with him at Five Star Ranch but since coming here I have not done much with him to keep them up. She offered to ride him anytime she was there when we were and if she had time. In the summer they do a lot of the barrel things at rodeos and she also has lots of homework in high school, grade 11 this year. I really wished I had the camera, forgot to bring it tonight. We were going to go to the barn on Sunday but my stomache was bothering me again so didn't make it. Another boarder offered me a hay bag to try, a Nibble Net ,  so we will go out Monday night and put it up in his stall. Hopefully this helps him to slow down and have the hay last longer.

Comment by Coopersmom_1958 on March 4, 2013 at 8:51am

f I did that those little buggers would rip his mane right out! It's not breaking at the crown either! All of them have broke at the piece on the bottom of the chin on the left corner. I have 4 of them that Al wants to take to get repaired but that might cost more than the halter. Don't know where 2 of them broke, a leather one he had on the first week at the barn or this last one. I thought it was a much better made very thick nylon with a leather crown, they are both in the field somewhere. I don't really like him having all nylon in case he gets hung up on something, but that is what the barn says I should have on him, or else he will always be breaking them because they are BREAKAWAYS and are made to breakaway.

Comment by Jackie Cochran on March 2, 2013 at 4:42pm

In ancient times we used leather halters but nowadays they can get expensive!!!!

Too bad you can't braid the crownpiece into his mane.

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