Archive for September 7th, 2009

Four Drives in A Row

amywink September 7th, 2009

Friday’s drive with Mary started a great weekend of driving. We also had nice weather since a cool front arrived and made our mornings cool and breezy (cool meaning low 70’s). Friday we also had thick morning clouds to keep the sun from getting too hot. Will always seem a bit more excitable on Fridays, perhaps because of the lay off from work or leaving his new herd, but we’ve worked on Fridays consistently since our 2nd week at Lisa’s. I try to make Fridays a relaxed drive, with lots of walking and slow work down the road and back and he usually settles in nicely to the work after being antsy at the start. We drove for over an hour again and he did quite well.

Saturday’s drive started early and I tried to pick up the pace more and try some new areas, including one of the “new” pastures that offers more cedar tree obstacles and a view of the main road (but not the buffalo!). Will did really well in the new areas and I was able to keep his attention with little difficulty. I was still having some trouble lightening my right hand and maintaining Will straight coming out of a turn. I was working pretty hard at it because I was really tired once I got home! I determined to work on these two issues on Sunday.

And so I did…..and I succeeded in having a long, continuous argument with Will. By over-thinking, I also manage to over-drive! Of course, I also knew I was doing it but I had a hard time getting myself to relax and lighten my right hand (and, of course, I kept hearing Tom and Jerry telling me to lighten my hands!). Since I was just frustrating both of us, I decided to go out of the pastures and take a nice drive down the road, which we both enjoyed much more.

It wasn’t all frustrating, though. I started Will with a 5 minutes of standing while Lisa harnessed and he stood like a champ, even when the tractor started. We also worked on halting through the drive and he did very very well with that. We ended up doing about 6k with our drive. Lisa managed to get the GPS to track our mileage. We were slow, of course, taking about an hour and twenty minutes from the start of our drive to the end–of course, there was the standing! We stood at the end for another 5 minutes and again, Will was perfect.

Monday, I decided to take a different tact. First of all, I worked on me. If my right side was stiff and heavy, I might need to do something to help my shoulder lighten up— so Tylenol and a heat pack for my shoulder after the drive on Sunday. I also decided to see if sitting in the center might help so I moved the wedge seat over to the center before our start today. I don’t know if there’s any official ruling about sitting in the center but I hope not because it made a big difference for me today! To work on Will, I decided we’d do a lot of left turns and get him responding to the left as well as he does to the right.

What a difference! All things went well today. We started with our 5 minute stand, walked a little around the barns, turning left, and returning to the stableyard to stand and wait for Lisa and Windy. Will stood stock still, relaxed, almost asleep. When we started off again, more left turns around the barn and house, walking slowly. We had a successful slow drive around the house. There’s a nice steep slope on one side of the yard and though he paused at the top, Will, went willingly down the slope after a good look, straightening up nicely as I requested, turning to the left at the bottom. I worked the bit to soften his left side and after just a nudge or two, he straightened his head nicely. Every time I found myself tightening my hands, I relaxed instead and lightened my grip. Will responded accordingly each time. He was very relaxed today and less argumentative and fussy so I think my hands were better! We were able to stop and stand throughout the drive without him moving off before I suggested it.

Here’s our start:

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And our finish:

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Standing long enough both times for me to pull the camera out of my pocket and get these shots!
What a good cart horse he can be!

He’ll have the next three days off from driving, then we’ll drive again Friday/Sunday but I hope we can keep up the good progress we made this weekend. He’s looking marvelously well, shiny and happy, and his buddy, Miss B, waited at the gate for him to come back from his drive each day. She trotted up and down the fence as we drove by today. I tried to let her see her buddy working but nearby. She still thought he should come back sooner.

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Will and Miss B

amywink September 7th, 2009

Will and Miss B have developed quite a friendship. After a bit of a rough start, with a few hissy fits from both of them, they have worked out quite a companionable relationship. Will is learning to groom her, after watching Windy and Popeye, and she waits at the gate when I bring Will up for driving or attention. Yesterday, we drove down around the yard, next to the pasture fence line, and she trotted right along with us, looking eagerly at her working buddy. I’m glad he has his very own pony now.
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