June 30, 2014

Parallel Parking, AKA Standing Square

With under two months until fair, it finally struck me that I can't just focus on riding. I realized that Ypke really wasn't familiar with certain showmanship maneuvers, and it is time for that to change!  She can walk/trot in hand, halt, back, and do forehand turns well... but squaring her feet, haunch turns, and leading from the off-side?  Not so much.

Today I brought out the clicker and treats and decided to teach her how to square.

Look at that square
At first she was quite confused and seemed surprised whenever she would get a click and a treat. I could really tell that she was deep in thought and gradually the time it took her to square got smaller and smaller. Yay Ypke! I would give her a treat once every ten seconds that she was still standing square, but once she moved I made her square up again.  She finally took the hint and stood there quietly.

In the beginning it really was a complete fail. She would stop almost square, but then a struggle ensued as she alternated between taking a whole bunch of tiny steps slightly forward and slightly backward to square just right. It was just like someone who can't parallel park: backwards, forward, WAIT STOP, nope a little forward, STOP, backwards, no that is too far back, forward, NOT THAT FAR FORWARD. The problem with Ypke is that she has no concept of small. She thinks bigger is better, so it took me awhile to get her to take smaller steps. I think it is more of me getting the cue with the lead just right — it is a delicate balance between not using too much or too little pressure.

We are on our way and I am pleased with how the session went! :)

June 27, 2014

Trailer troubles, spooking, and a decent ride

I really need to get new photos
I hauled Ypke out to the nearby boarding facility for my lesson again yesterday!  Here is the rundown...

When I went to load her up I just knew there would be trouble. Sure enough, there was, but luckily after 30 minutes the beast was loaded and locked into the trailer.   

Once we arrived it was obvious that Ypke was on edge. There were 6 or so other horses being worked, and she just wanted to whinny and gawk everywhere. I started out in the roundpen and once she was going well, I took a leap of faith and rode her in the big arena with two other horses. Now I'm not gonna lie, I was rather nervous about what she was going to do and asked to be led around on a leadline for a lap. Once I figured that she wasn't being psychotic and was actually more at ease around the horses I went off by myself.

We did walk/jog and it went well!  Did some small circles, transitions, and putzed around for a bit and she seemed to be focused on the task at hand. In fact, I would say it was going great until near the end. I gave her a looser rein and about five seconds later she spooked without a warning. The spook was a bolt off to the side followed by a 180* spin. I have no clue what set her off and once again reverted back to my nervous self. I eventually calmed down after several walk/jog laps so we ended on a good note.

She refused to load on the way back and it took just under an hour til she was locked in.

In summary: Trailer loading = nightmare      Ride = Okay

June 24, 2014

Something New

With under 2 months until fair, it finally hit me that I need to start getting Ypke out and about. Instead of one lesson per week at home, I decided to switch to two lessons per week at a local boarding facility to expose her to more activity.

Originally I was going to haul the beast there last Wednesday, but she refused to load. I gave up after a couple of hours but continued to work on her loading skills after that. Yesterday, she loaded in under 15 minutes and we went on our way to the lesson.

I expected a lot of drama, but surprisingly she behaved just like she does at home. I rode her around the roundpen for a bit before moving into one of the larger arenas to work on patterns. All in all, it went pretty well. She kept on trying to trample the cones (nothing new there) and wasn't halting as abrupt as I would have liked, but I can't really say it went poorly.

Pattern 1:
Start at Cone A, walk until you are halfway between Cones A and B, do a trot circle, trot to Cone B, halt, 180* forehand turn, back 5 steps (biggest issue was halting and trampling the cones)

Pattern 2:
Start at Cone B, trot until you are halfway between Cone B and A, do a small trot circle to the left, halt, do a small trot circle to the right, halt, back five steps, 90* haunch turn (biggest issue was halting straight, keeping the circles the same size, and trampling the cone)

It was a good experience for both of us!  She didn't spook, and I didn't feel nervous, so that in itself is an accomplishment! She was hesitant to load on the way back, but after about 15 minutes or so she hopped in.

June 17, 2014

Two Weeks of Jethro

Once upon a time there was a miniature donkey named Jethro.

Jethro loved spa sessions and would happily stand for grooming and Show Sheen.

He also enjoyed going to the salon to get a new donkeydo!

As much as Jethro enjoyed spa days, he loved his morning walks the most.

He was a brave little boy and had no issues crossing bridges, tarps, and the like.

However, there was one thing Jethro didn't like... BATH TIME!

Jethro was a sensible little lad, got over himself, and became a pack donkey.
The end.

I took Jethro to 4-H meeting the other day.  He loaded right up, hauled fine, and kept his cool.  There were constantly little kids around him petting him everywhere and he didn't seem to care.  I did a showmanship pattern with him for the first time, and he actually did okay!  It involved leading from the off side, haunch turns, forehand turns, and trotting. He didn't want to trot, but he can do a mean haunch turn :)  

June 4, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

June 3, 2014

24 Hours of Jethro

Well, it is official!  We picked up Jethro yesterday evening, and he has been here for 24 hours. He has actually already learned quite a bit!  Here is the play by play of how it all went down.

Baby miniature donkey

He walked right up the ramp and hauled just fine. When we were home and I went to unload him, he was actually fast asleep! He walked down the ramp after several minutes of staring, waltzed into his pasture, and happily munched on grass after I took his halter off.  No drama at all!  However, he wouldn't let me come within 10 feet of him.  In fact, I was going to halter him to bring him in for the night, but in his efforts to get away he actually conveniently ran right into his shelter!

Baby miniature donkey

At first, he still wanted nothing to do with me. I set out a lawn chair, and he gradually warmed up to me after about 20 minutes.  By the end of the day, he was standing great for grooming, fly spray, and haltering. In the beginning he would run away from me, but later he came when called and followed me around like a puppy.

Baby miniature donkey

He was terrified of Ypke!  I thought it would be the other way around!  Whenever she would even so much as look at him, he would canter away. Finally, they sniffed noses and grazed by each other on opposite sides of the fence.