Archive for the 'Carriage Driving' Category

Making Strides

amywink November 18th, 2012

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It has been a very busy 2 weeks since my last post. I’ve manage to breach the plateau I had been on for a while and have made significant strides with both Lily and Blessing –and Lily and Blessing together (more on that in a minute!).

First of all, Lily has had a great deal of fun in the last two weeks. Her progress on her “slide adventures” has been phenomenal and she has manage to teach herself how to go up the slide as well as down the slide.

She has also learned “over” and she is now working on (in dog class) learning to zip through the agility tunnel (gonna have to invest in one of those. it’s too much fun!)

At the beginning of November, Lily got invited to the barn to visit while a clinic was going on. She behaved very well in her public appearance and I used the opportunity to work with her on her “barn behavior”. She watched the clinic very quietly from the sidelines, showing herself to be a very well behaved dog when it came to being around horses and she listened quietly to the discussion of whip-handling as well.

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We took a few breaks to check out Blessing in her stall–she had the day off–and Lily worked on being inside the barn while I did other things.
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This is all important work for her and I was very pleased to see her progress!

Last weekend, I made my own strides with Blessing, finally making a breakthrough in the amount of contact she needs to respond correct. We’d been having some issues with counterbending in her turns. I had been using what I felt was very light contact but since we’d switched to my leather reins, that amount of contact turned out to be fairly heavy (for her). Last week, during my Friday lesson, I learned that instead of a slight movement of my hand, all I needed to do was squeeze the rein between my fingers without moving my hand at all. It’s about the same amount of pressure I’d use to hold a pencil.

The change in Blessing was dramatic and we manage to turn each corner perfectly bent. I’m working now on my consistency and maintaining the light contact at the trot as well as the walk–Blessing is doing fabulous with the change and I feel like I’ve made a huge breakthrough with the contact using the leather reins. I was able to have back-to-back lessons on Friday and Saturday to cement the new contact level with her and this led us to adding a new element to my driving life: a carriage dog. With Francine’s guidance, we began introducing Lily to riding up front so that by the time Blessing comes home (in a month), I’ll have a carriage dog who can ride along with ease.

So, for our first ride up front, Francine drove Blessing while I managed Lily, helping her learn to balance herself on the moving carriage. After a bit of adjustment, she settled right into place.

Is this a happy dog?

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And this week, we kicked it up a notch. I drove and Lily sat in her soon to be regular place. We are going to have to work out a few details but after a little confusion, she rode like a professional.

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Lily Goes Into the World

amywink October 15th, 2012

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I have been quite remiss in my webpostings this month and it has been a busy month for Lily, who is approaching her 6 month birthday this week. She will be getting a very nice name tag, from Fetching Tags as her birthday present. I fully acknowledge that this is a ridiculously expensive name tag and I honestly can’t believe I decided to order one but, I never found another one that I liked as much, with really deep engraving, and the dog trainer kept emphasizing the importance of a dog name tag. While Lily does carry quite a few identifying tags–Tx Rabies, St. Francis Medal (yeah, yeah), Home Again Plastic House–she did not have one with her name and my phone number. And naturally, as a paranoid-type dog owner, just the thought of Lily running frightened anywhere that I wasn’t is kind of enough to send me into paroxysms of panic and regular nightmares. So after much internal debate, I ordered her tag in the Baby Brass-Medium dewdrop.

In addition to her fancy new tag, Lily has been promoted from Puppy Kindergarten to Level 2, which we attended this Saturday and experienced a complete meltdown because she had to go with another person and watch me work a stranger’s dog…with her treats.

It was So Wrong. SO WRONG.

So, we will be working on Lily’s “frustration management” in the future weeks. It’s not separation anxiety because she will stay calmly at home and she will be calm when I am not in sight. But god forbid, I am in view and she can’t get to me….the hysterionics begin. Since this is part of the Canine Good Citizenship program, we will have to work on her being able to be without me for 5 minutes. Once I saw one of these tests, I knew this would be Lily’s Hardest Thing.

It’s not all frustration though! Lily got to see her Auntie Kristi again, after a long long time (in puppy months) and I am pretty sure she remembered the Great American Dog Trip and knew exactly who her Auntie Kristi was!!

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How time flies!!!

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While Kristi was here, we took Lily out to eat at La Madelaine, where she had her first public dog outing and did spectacularly well as a bistro dog!!
img_1817.jpg It certainly was fun to have a dog who could be so well behaved in public. After her success at that, I took her with me to the hair salon and she performed very well there too.
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Despite her frustration issues, she’s doing spectacularly well as a public “go along” dog.

Happy Birthday, Blessing

amywink October 8th, 2012

Though it’s a bit late, best birthday wishes for my beautiful mare, who turned 5 on October 2.

Ellen managed to scrape up some old photos of Baby Blessing, who walks the same then as she does now.

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Best Day

amywink September 26th, 2012

Here are a few photos of our September show taken by my brother, Marc, and his professional camera equipment (here’s his Wink Action Photo website). I’m certainly lucky to have had such a great personal photographer for Blessing’s first outing.

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Blessing’s Big Weekend

amywink September 16th, 2012

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So what I was trying to write about last week when Lily so rudely interrupted was our preparations for Blessing’s first show. That entry remains in the draft folder because this weekend was the show! We had a lucky break with the weather and Saturday was very pleasant. Blessing did very well for her first show. She didn’t really care for the in hand classes but came away with the Grand Champion Morgan Mare award anyway! She did not place in the Sport Horse Suitability class because she just Was Not Going to Play. Oh well, it was just for fun.

Once we got her in harness, however, she knew what she was about and started to work well. We had some anxiety as soon as she saw the audience in the stands, but Francine took over and got her straightened out from her pretzel position. Once we went by the stands about 3 times, she was fine. We had a practice class in the Give Cancer the Boot Driving Class and she did fine even after I took over the reins. :)

We did very well in the Working Carriage class and came away with a second place but we got 3rd in Reinsmanship. I’m trying not to be irked that I didn’t do better than last year’s show with Will but I didn’t get to do more than go around the arena while I was waiting for some serious circles!! We tried Cones for the first time and I think Blessing really liked going fast. We came away with another 2nd in Timed Cones and 3rd in Pick Your Own Route because I killed a cone at gate 5.

Of course, it was all fun and exciting and Blessing had a good time, I think, as did I. I’m still not quite as confident with her as I am with Will but we are getting there together.

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