Monday, October 26, 2009

and now, back to our regular broadcast, or, you don't always get what you want

If anyone is here looking for the anti-Rollkur information, you can scroll down and read/click/write away. I've been linked in a number of places, and blog traffic is huge right now as a result. I hope everyone who comes by ends up signing the petition, or at least educates themselves on Rollkur as a result of seeing the video.

But I'm back home, with all the regular chores and routines, and as usual, things here roll on no matter what else is happening out in the big, wide world.

This morning I went out to feed breakfast, with the plan to let Keil Bay digest his for a bit while I did chores, and then have a ride.

Keil, however, was unusually fussy about being bridled. I'm not sure what was going on, but he stuck his head up in the air and basically said NO THANK YOU. It could be it was his own personal protest against Rollkur. Not that Keil Bay even knows what that is, but he seems to have his muzzle on the pulse of a lot of things, so it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he has an opinion on this.

I reminded him that he no longer has a cavesson, we now have the tiny reins, and he seems to be fine with his bit. The wind was blowing and gusting a little outside the barn, and two tarps were blowing quite hard, so maybe THAT was it.

In any case, when I lowered the bridle, he lowered his head and began to nuzzle me, so in the end I just out-waited him, he closed his eyes for a moment while I rubbed circles on his neck, and then he took the bit in his mouth and we moved on.

Still, I wondered what was up, so I grabbed the lunge line and whip and decided to see if anything looked off.

I should explain here that Keil Bay has had some lunging issues. When he first came to me, he lunged beautifully, but then he started wanting to come into the center of the circle with me. He had done Parelli through level two right before I got him, and it seemed maybe I was giving him confused signals. I'm not a huge fan of lunging anyway, and he free lunges pretty well, so I have never addressed this issue officially.

Lunging with halter on is hit or miss. He lunges fine if he has a rider on him.

So today when Rafer Johnson (who seems to be attaching himself to Keil Bay of late) and I walked Keil into the arena, I figured we would encounter our issue and work through it as best we could. Then I'd hop on and we'd have our normal ride.

But when I got Keil Bay all set up to lunge, he walked right out on the circle. I was surprised but figured we needed to reinforce this leap forward. So we did walk, trot, canter, in both directions, with many transitions and halts, and I got to really check Keil out at all the gaits.

He looked great at the walk - big, swinging, over-stride of about 6" right out of the barn. The trot was good, especially as he warmed up. And the canter was nice and relaxed, mostly what I call his "loosy goosy" canter, but I'd rather see that than tight/stiff.

Rafer Johnson stood and watched, completely intrigued. I think tomorrow morning I might put him on the lunge line and see what he does. He seems very interested.

As usual, Keil was in a fabulous mood after his work session. He sauntered back to the barn, stood while I untacked him, and had his little snack while I checked feet and brushed him down again before turning him out with his herd.

Just when I think I have the Big Bay figured out, he surprises me. If anyone had told me this morning that I'd have a textbook lunging session with Keil Bay today, I'd have laughed out loud.

And as usual, now that he's given me something nice, I have to ponder what *I* got out of it, because one thing that is always true about Keil Bay, is that he doesn't always give me what I want, but he always gives me what I need.

And I'm proud to say he has the freedom of expression to offer these gifts to me, and I have the willingness to accept them.


Grey Horse Matters said...

They really have the ability to surprise us on a regular basis don't they? So glad to hear his lunging was smooth and productive. I think what you may have gotten out of it all was a nice relaxing lunge session when you weren't expecting it. Or he may be putting your mind at ease and letting you know that you haven't been doing anything wrong in the past lungeing sessions like you may have thought you were. Or maybe he was showing off for Rafer Johnson! I'd love to see you try him on the lunge and see what he does.

billie said...

It's intriguing - I can lunge Cody with the tiniest of gestures.

Keil responds well to voice commands, but the issue has been him staying out on the circle. He often tries to come in and will then walk/trot/canter right beside me w/o issue.

I really think the Parelli training clashed with his very traditional German lunge training and now he tries to sort of do both at the same time. Today, however, we got on the right track and stayed there.

The pony lunges well but if you get loud, and if you crack the whip, he gets unruly.

ponymaid said...

Billie, believe me, Rafer wants to show you that he has been observing and knows all about longeing. When I was two or three years old I also stood and observed several sessions and then strode into the middle with the woman and asked to try it for myself. Even she understood what I wanted and I proceeded to show her that I knew all three gaits as well as how to whoa. She seemed staggered by the whole idea and we haven't tried again since. Please let us know what Rafer has planned...

billie said...

Sheaffer, you have confirmed my thought that when I try this, someone must be standing by with video camera in hand.

I'm not joking when I say that if I had a cart and harness set up, I think Rafer would march right into it and start pulling. He seems quite keen on the idea of doing work.

I forgot to mention that I tested Redford's halter skills today - haltered and asked him to leave both Rafer and Salina (while she was eating, no less, so he wanted to wait and get the treat of licking out her tub!) and he did it perfectly.

I will never understand how the donkey has gotten the reputation for being stubborn and difficult. I've not encountered that at all with Rafer and Redford.

Michelle said...

"one thing that is always true about Keil Bay, is that he doesn't always give me what I want, but he always gives me what I need."

This is beautiful, and even more so that you are willing and able to take it. It is clear that you have an amazing relationship with your animals. And Rafer sounds like a doll. Between your guys and George and Alan....I'm a puddle of mush!

billie said...

Thank you, Michelle - as for the puddle of mush, I know what you mean. I go to 7MSN every morning and let that crew jumpstart my day.

How can you go wrong with an early morning dose of George and Alan? :)

ponymaid said...

Billie, donkeys are born with an inate sense of how to wear harness and pull things. I don't know how or why this is so, but I know Rafer would don his new outfit and get right down to business. I've found that training the woman is by far the hardest part.

I must confess, I too am an ardent fan of George and Alan - how I envy them their idyllic life. Along with your two boys, they have livened up many a dull day for me.

billie said...

And Sheaffer, it goes WITHOUT SAYING that you and your wonderful view of the world brighten my day regularly.

I insist on reading every post of yours out loud to my husband, and often enough I get so tickled I cannot breathe. My honking and snorting is quite unseemly but so good for the soul.

I have said it before and I will say it again - where would the world be without donkeys?

I don't know how anyone lives without them.

ponymaid said...

Thank you, Billie, and to your very patient spouse.