Fast Track Week 1 & 2

Samantha Thorning said Had fun at Fast Track today! Started the morning with a team building exercise that was really neat because it also related to our horsemanship in so many ways. Everyone paired up (about 25+ pairs) with a 45' rope and began swinging it like a jump rope. You had to hold hands with your partner and run through the line of ropes without getting hit (or you had to start over!). A great simulation in being a good partner with feel, timing, and balance!

Played with trailer loading, liberty draw and yo-yos, and a little corners game outside the coverall in the evening. So fun! :)

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Freestyle, 15 mins) Rode Aspen bareback in the arena outside of the small coverall. Worked on the corners game and stopping with my seat. It went pretty well and I got some good stops without my reins, FINALLY!! :D

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Liberty, 30 mins) Had a GREAT Liberty session with Louise today!! I was having trouble with my draw/change of direction from counterclockwise to clockwise with Aspen - I have this trouble On-Line but, of course, it is exaggerated at Liberty. I'd ask Aspen for a CoD but if she has trouble with it I'd just let her come straight to me for a scratch and a rest to help create better draw and incentive to come off the rail toward me... Louise said this was a good thing to do but I was sort of blocking her energy and shutting down the forward motion so we put Aspen back On-Line and she showed me how to sort of swirl my energy around and suck Aspen toward me. Louise also showed me how to cause Aspen to trot to me in the draw and she'd only get her release if she trotted in. By arcing around and putting a little drive from my Carrot Stick I could get her to draw in with more intention. Louise also really intensified the Yo-Yo game with Aspen until she got so focused and into it she looked like she was hovering above the ground. Aspen just got bigger looking, her shoulders and withers lifted, she rounded her back, and had this great, positive, super interested look on her face. She was light on her feet moving back and came forward with a nice, springy trot leaving the belly of the rope on the ground the whole time. This also put more quality into the send on the circle and then into the draw as well. Totally awesome! I played with it a bit after Louise and I had SO much fun! I felt really happy and satisfied with our Liberty today and can't wait to play with it again tomorrow!!

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 45 mins) Had a lot of fun with my sweet Aspen today. For the first block of horse time I warmed up with some sideways without a fence on my 45' rope and then moved on to trailer loading with Cezanne. I started by putting her front half into the trailer and then tapping her hind end to get her the rest of the way in. Aspen felt unsure about going in and didn't want to go any farther than where she was at so she threw a tantrum. Cezanne had me put her on a circle and offer the trailer to her - if she declined I'd put pressure on her Z5 as she went by and make it uncomfortable to pass and then offer again as she came around. She got pretty excited about all this and it took a while for her to get the idea that she could stop and rest at the trailer. I ended on her resting parallel to the trailer where she blew out and licked and chewed. I was dying to get some water and food in the hot sun so we called it quits there and then after lunch I went back to try again. Aspen had stopped putting effort into it at all so Cezanne played with her and showed me how to really make it uncomfortable for her to be outside of the trailer and then to offer it to her - causing her to hunt the trailer as a sweet spot. We got her to want to go in the trailer - although she didn't get all four feet in the quality of her send into the trailer was so much better than before. Because there was a long line waiting to use the trailer we ended it on that note instead of pushing for more. I definitely have some great new ideas and tactics to play with the trailer tomorrow! I also want to work on my draw (notes to follow in my Liberty post) and sideways without a fence, and weave!

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Freestyle, 60 mins) Warmed up in Arena Grande using relax rein at the trot to get some stretching and focusing then went to the Honey Comb to practice the clover leaf pattern. Aspen was all over the place, impulsive, tripping, stumbling, and diving around the turns or trying to veer off pattern so we kept at it until she made an improvement and was able to stop straight in the center with just my seat.... Not the ride I had envisioned but I hope to do it again tomorrow and see if we can make some headway! :)

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Liberty, 15 mins) Did a little STM in the round pen at the honey comb. Elly helped me improve my F8 by not being afraid to up the ante and use speed to create interest in the pattern. Got a couple FLCs in the F8 and called it quits right there! So fun!!! :)

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 30 mins) Warmed up on-line with Aspen working on getting her to pick up her hind feet and walk straight across the pedestal (in prep for trailer loading :) She really tried hard and the offered a lot today in the playground including jumping a tire, going into the tarp tunnel, and aiming for logs and other obstacles! Cool!

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (Freestyle, 30 mins) Wanted to go for a short ride on Aspen that turned out to be a long ride because she was so forward. She really wanted to go back to her pen where she had all of her feed waiting for her so it was as matter of getting her connected. I wanted her to stop at the ball on the rail in the 100' round pen by just using my seat, but because she was so rushy and distracted I had to find a way to make it hard work for her when she wasn't being soft and thinking about slowing or stopping at the ball. By the end of it we had a good stop with no reins at the ball so I got off and called it quits for the day. :) Very happy with that and excited to try some more tomorrow!

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 30 mins) Played On-Line today after doing some simulations with the circling game. Tried to clean up my neutral and then ask for the change of direction with a more fluid motion rather than her just doing a near rollback on the circle. Had much success with this and did a little Z4/5 driving. Later in the day I got some pointers on the weave from Carol Lowery (2*) - focused on slow and right beats fast and wrong as well as my energy and body language conveying the drive and draw clearly.

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 30 mins) I had a terrible day with Aspen yesterday. She was doing okay but my emotional fitness just went down the drain. Everything was beginning to frustrate me from other horses and riders to Aspen's performance to my inability to find the answer I needed to make progress. I began to get too focused on the task and I could feel my irritation creeping into my actions and at that point realized I just needed to get off and chill out. I know everyone has bad days and the most important thing is acknowledging it and owning your emotions and moving forward from them... but I still feel like I failed. I don't want to get mean or mad or predatory toward my horse. Poor Aspen didn't ask to be put in this situation with 60 other horses in a new environment nor did she ask to learn whatever it is I wanted to teach her that day - I must remember it's about a partnership and communication not just getting things done. I am trying so hard not to get hung up on my performance at the Fast Track and become oriented only with my scores or levels or tasks. True Savvy is always putting the relationship first, I want Aspen's heart more than I want her to do perfect direct and indirect reins.

Samantha Thorning with Aspen, (On Line, 30 mins) Spent the morning red lighting Aspen's back because she was a little sore today. Rather fix a small soreness today than a big pain tomorrow. Later in the afternoon we played with more distance on our circling game by encouraging her to go around the cones I set up and letting her rest there when she made it to the outside of the cone. She was pretty introverted and slow so I was trying to be patient and not get bored wither doing it at the walk but I kept telling myself SLOW and RIGHT beats fast and wrong.... So I think I will do this for 7 days and see if we can build more confidence and distance on the circle.

Also fixed some of the head turning in our yo-yo by porcupine-ing her nose back as far as I could reach then beginning the yo-yo. We were just too close together to drive her back without making her feel uncomfortable.