Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Things have been going really well with Starbuck for the past few weeks.  We've still got a little bit of work to do on stopping when I want to, but this is generally only an issue once in a long while when she's gotten excited after jumping or a spook.  And we're still struggling with tracking up, but I honestly think that it's something which can't be forced and that if we work towards that goal bit by bit and I'm careful to ride her responsibly, we'll eventually get there.  But she's much more consistent than she was even six months ago - I don't have to push her as hard to keep her going when she's feeling lazy, or work quite so hard to slow her down when she's in a tizzy.  And aside from a few highly controllable spooks, we've been able to join in all the lessons with the best of 'em and above all for a couple of weeks I've been really enjoying every single ride with her which sounds pretty basic but by no means is the norm for us - generally she makes me work pretty hard and fear for my life once or twice in return for a truly enjoyable session.

Here's a nice jump we made last week, I'm so glad this one was the one caught on camera because most of the others weren't nearly so pretty - heels up, weight too far forward, crooked arrivals and departures, Starbuck scattering all the practice rail/pad thingys Marina uses for these exercises all over the arena - you get the picture.  But as you can see we ended up doing it more or less well and ended with me being thoroughly satisfied with my little filly.

In other news, my friend Ivón saw a photo from last week's "Parelli session" on Facebook and commented "Whoa, Parelli already?! At this rate you'll be doing Spanish Walk next month!".  So I've accepted her challenge and yesterday started teaching Starbuck Spanish Walk.  My method is based on (well, pretty much copied from) this one and what I'm more or less planning is this:

  1. With me standing on the ground beside her, teach Starbuck to lift her leg when it's tapped once with the crop (we did this yesterday).  1 week (5-10 minutes a day) of training working up to her lifting her leg when the crop is twirled in the air instead of her leg being tapped.
  2. Teach Starbuck to extend her leg forward when she lifts it.  1 week of drills when warming up / cooling down.
  3. Teach Starbuck to do this alternately with both legs - left, right, left, right.  1 week of drills.
  4. Teach Starbuck to move forward with each lift-and-extend.  1 week of drills.
  5. Teach Starbuck to do all this from the saddle - depending on how good a job I've done up until then this will be harder or easier.  Hopefully I'll be able to cue with the crop-twirl and away she'll go walking Spanish, but I have a feeling it won't be that simple.

So far, she finds this lifting her leg thing very boring, but I bet that'll change when I start factoring in treats next week.  It took us about 15-20 minutes to get to the point where she'd lift either leg consistently with one tap from the crop, and she still takes a few seconds to do it, but I decided it'd be best to quit while I was ahead and keep working on it a little bit every day.  This kind of ground training is the type of thing we did a lot when I first got her (standing tied, walking forward to a cue from a rope around her leg, head down cue, etc...) and I think it was good for my patience, her focus and our overall relationship, so I'm excited to get back to this kind of thing.  After Spanish Walk I want to teach her to lie down on cue, I think that'd be really neat too.

It's been a long journey to get to this point, but what I love most about having a young horse is that there's so many different things I want to do and this way we'll hopefully get to do all of them together.

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