Fun and Games with Winnie

Spring Song at Liberty

Every time I play with Spring Song I am amazed at how cooperative

By: Fun and Games with Winnie |

Every time I play with Spring Song I am amazed at how cooperative she is, how quickly she understands things and how happy she is to play with me. I’ve never had such a receptive “pupil”.

There are lessons in the arena every Thursday from 9:15 to 11:15. By the time we’re done with the lessons Dominique, who kindly babysits me when I ride Spring Song, is at another farm. Spring Song is not at the stage where I’ll ride her without that special person on the ground so Thursdays are liberty days. Dominique is available to watch me ride Spring Song on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. After the ride I take a few minutes to play games with the filly. Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays are devoted to liberty/games/tricks and tours around the farm with me leading Spring.

To start our play session today I set up a low free jump from the south wall to the southern pedestal. Spring Song walked over it while following me from both directions. I asked her to trot the jump. She did this in both directions.

The filly walked over the tarp and pushed the big ball. We’ve started a game where I push the big ball to her and she pushes it back to me. Who knows, maybe we’ll borrow Zelador’s soccer ball one of these days.

Spring Song opened the mailbox several times, finding the piece of carrot to eat. For her last time opening it I placed the baseball cap in it. I’ve been using the cap to help her figure out how to hold an object. She opened the box, noticed there wasn’t a treat, picked up the hat and held it till I took it away from her. She received a jackpot of carrots.

I plan to trot her under saddle tomorrow so to prepare her I led her on the lead line walking and trotting when I asked her (voice commands). She quickly figured out what I wanted. We did a few steps trotting, then back to the walk. If we had a round pen it would be quite simple to teach her to walk with long strides, walk with tiny steps, trot slowly, trot a bit faster and halt. Spring Song would be at the edge of the round pen, I’d be beside her closer to the middle of the round pen. (We actually HAVE a round pen. It’s outdoors and with all the rain we’ve had the round pen it is not useable. Bummer…) In the next few days I will try this round-pen-drill along the wall in the arena (both directions). I can see my fitness level improving with each trot sequence.

I had Spring Song on a lead line and held the wand along the side of her body to help her step sideways over the pole. She did a crossover step to the left. To the right she did a tiny step to the right. Each try was followed by a mesmerizing circle.

The next time I play with her I’ll have a very long lead line and practice “yielding to pressure”, wrapping the lead line around her rump and waiting for her to figure out to follow the lead line in a circle to me. This rump pressure will help her understand if and when the garrocha pole touches her rump.