2017.04.05: Circles and Lines

We had the blessing of beautiful weather and the time to do something with it this morning, so Storm and I got some work time in again. He is shedding like mad, and so I set everything up in the barn yard so that I could just brush away the hair in the breeze for a bit before we tacked up. He enjoyed munching the incoming grass while I convinced a good portion of hair that it no longer needed to remain upon his back.
I set all the gates up so that I could get straight to work, and so we started right in the barn yard. He remained largely relaxed as we began. Our circles were wobbly, and it took a bit to get him focused (I'm sure it was also me getting focused through the process!) and we settled into a little bit of circle, and a little bit of direction. The barn yard is uneven and challenging to work in with the tiny odd shape, so I was eager to get out and into a more productive area. We made a circle, and a straight line towards the gate. As soon as he would get off track of the gate, I would stop for another circle to line him up again. We only had a few pauses as he began to realize we were going in a direction that he often objected to in the past. We carefully made our way to the gate, and then through together managing to not get tangled or run into anything along the way.
He showed a bit of anxiety once we left the barn yard, but I kept working asking for circles and lines. It was somewhat tricky to figure out how to navigate the trees and the brick column and the space while only moving to the right, but we managed, and then after another circle or so arrived in the round pen. Head up, ask for a circle, find balance, aim for a line. When his line crosses in front of me, another pause for a circle. It took a while to find the rythm, and find his balance again so that we could settle in. As we found some consistency, we made bigger circles, and asked for a bit of a trot from a balanced place. He couldn't hold it, but that was to be expected. He was putting in a lot of effort and that was the whole point.
We eventually circled and lined our way back out the gate and headed towards the field. He got a bit worried, but nothing that he couldn't refocus himself from when I asked him to continue to work. The terrain was an added challenge here, and we were significantly more wobbly than we had been getting to that point. I don't know how productive we were on working on balance because things were changing so rapidly that I was having trouble making decisions to make the adjustments. By the time I chose an adjustment I'm afraid he already needed something else. We wobbled our way across the field, and began heading down the slope to the arena. He remained fairly calm, though found a few excuses to get concerned, like the squirrel among the trees. We managed ok, though I don't think that the walk was very productive for our balance, because the terrain gets steeper, and there is only a narrow flat spot getting into the arena itself. So our circles were very crooked, and the straight lines were not so pretty. In addition to that, there were quite a few sticks and limbs that had fallen in a few storms to navigate.
Eventually, we made it into the arena and flat ground again. Without the jumps we had lots of room to work. We began using the whole space, making circles when he was out of balance, and then straight lines as he found his balance. It was interesting to me to notice how small of a circle he needed to find a better position before shifting into a straight line, and just how quickly he would slip out of better balance and needed a circle again. We managed to find just enough balance to find a trot once or twice, but that only lasted a few strides and he quickly fell apart and needed the walk to reorganize.
While he was certainly not tired, I decided we had enough, and headed back up to the barn. He was nice and relaxed so he got some grazing time while I took care of cleaning up and putting everything away. It was a huge accomplishment for him to maintain his relaxed state and go all the way to the arena, work, and come all the way back up. It feels good to have a little more consistency to work with. Here's to more relaxed and calm days!
Next Page: 2017.04.09: By Definition