Tues, Dec 13

Not enough hours in the day this week to get what I need to do done and try to ride. And it’s bone-chilling cold. So one of my projects today was to go through my stash of winter clothes and dig out my Under Armour cold weather gear. I’m going to need an extra layer if I want to do anything outside now.

Since I didn’t have enough time to ride I headed out to the barn around 3 PM and threw Bullet in a stall so I could do a little ground work with Dharla. Rather than take her down to the ring I figured I’d just isolate the buckskin and use the upper paddock. The footing was a bit greasy because the ground has been trying to freeze, then thawing again when the sun hits it in the afternoon. So it was a bit sloppy.

We basically did a repeat of yesterday: Rope desensitizing, then stick desensitizing followed by moving the hindquarters. I’ve noticed that while Dharla totally accepts the rope and stick work, she tends to hold her ground, but flinches the first few times I throw the rope across her back on each side. She’s definitely better on her left side than her right, which is typical I guess. I just tried to stay very relaxed and encouraging. Hopefully as time goes on she’ll lose the flinch. Still, she holds her ground and eventually relaxes, so I’m not sure if the flinch is even an issue or not.

Moving the hindquarters went even better than yesterdays session. I was able to use a corner of the paddock to help keep her from trying to just walk forward. Again, she only seems to do that on her right side when I go to move her hindquarters to her left. All in all, she did well though. I’d like to see her drop her head more, but hopefully in time. She’s not resisting at all, nor worried, just tends to get that head up thing going. She even seems to relax with that head up. Odd, that. Once I touch her and rub her neck that head drops right away. She’ll get there.

I ended by doing the rope slapping desensitization exercise. Basically, I stand beside her and swing the stick so the rope slaps the ground beside her. I started by using fairly gentle slaps a good distance out from her body. She accepted that well, so I increased the pressure and moved the rope a bit closer. I was surprised how well she did. I worked both sides twice and was please with her acceptance. I had a little trouble with rope/stick/hand coordination. Because the ground is getting hard the rope tends to bounce back when it slaps the ground. In a sand area that doesn’t happen and I need to be VERY careful that the rope doesn’t ricochet back and hit Dharla’s legs. That would totally defeat the whole purpose of doing this exercise. I’ll have to try this down in the arena and see if it’s better down there. If so, I won’t practice this in the paddock. Too easy to screw it up!

Overall, about 35 minutes this session. Very pleased. Glad we got this done today!