Friday, July 24, 2009
Since Star's been ill (some virus thing...) I have been creative about what to do with Mercy. On Tuesday, I took Mercy out on her second 'alone' trail ride. I once again let her pick the path and she ended up taking me to the creek trail. She REALLY wanted to go down the the creek on this trail, but the slopes down there are sudden and once she gets into the creek, the brush makes it hard to turn around. We finally broke onto the service rode where we met a couple with their beagle. We see them on the trail all the time, so it was a quick hello and then into the creek! Mercy wasn't as interested in the water as she usually is, so we headed on back... I didn't want to stress Star out too much and get her even more sick. Mercy wanted to move out quite fast, but she slowed when I asked.
Then on Wednesday I went over to my friend's place to ride. We had a blast! Again we worked on loping mainly and that alone has improved so much! I am able to get her loping to the left on a loose rein and to the right after a little shoulder control exercises. We ended the hot evening by setting up some ground poles (well, actually they were PVC poles which she usually used for pole bending practice) and jogged over those. The first time over she blew right over them, landing on every single one. I changed plans by backing her through and side passing instead, to increase her awareness of them. It seemed to work! The next time over she stepped over each one beautifully!Staring at the weeds in the nice dust free sand:
Once we got home, we let the girls out back to enjoy the evening:
The next day, I rode Mercy at home. Before I could even get on Mercy, Star pulled back on her leadrope pretty hard. I have been tying her to the barn to stand while I ride and usually she moves around and frets for a little bit, but nothing bad. This day she had something up her booty. I should have tied her and then asked her to move around to feel the end of the lead like I usually do, but I have done this many times now...I thought we had something going. Thank goodness the bolt held. How I love lifelong pullbackers! >:( NOT! Once I saddled up, I started out just asking Mercy to collect at the walk and follow my reins, legs, and seat while turning either sharply or gradually. We did have one issue come up, which I have actually ignored until now. Mercy dives into our circle (only at home, of course) so I applied Mugwump's 'Follow your nose' lesson to our ride. When she cut in many feet, I would haul her around and back onto our path. It only took 3 times for her to get the point. From their I worked on her stop and haunch turns. Waiting for her to give to the pressure cues:Resting after a nice collected jog:
I really didn't want to lope her at our place yesterday. It is just so rocky and her feet get really banged up if we ride too much. So I pulled out my XXX-soft rope. I have been exposing Mercy to the rope every now and then for quite a while. On Tuesday, I stood next to her, on her right side, and practiced throwing the rope away from us. She didn't flinch once. I even pulled out a cone and roped it. I then walked backwards, Mercy followed at my shoulder, and we dragged it toward us! She looked at me with a bored expression when we were done moving. So, when I was riding yesterday I grabbed my rope again. She, again, could care less. Sweet.
I walked her around while slapping the rope on my thigh to make sure I could steer, neck rein, and hold onto the rope (which is too long for my small hands. Do you know how long a real roper's rope is?). Once I knew I could drop the rope in an emergency, I lined Mercy up to face one of my barrels with a cone on it. I swung the rope over us and let it loose. I got the cone!!!!! I couldn't believe it! I practice, but I am not confident enough to actually hit it on the first swing, lol! I asked Mercy to move around so she could feel the taught rope hit her shoulders and nose. Then I asked her to back. We pulled the cone off the barrel and the rope slid off, just what I wanted it to do. btw, I never wrapped the rope on the horn, I just held it against my leg to simulate it. That's where we stopped for the evening. I wish I was more skilled with the rope because I truly believe roping could be Mercy's specialty. Of course, no pictures, but I won't forget next time.