Rockstar

Tune and tone with Rocky

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Rocky’s been on pasture rest for most of the spring and summer, and has lost his topline and round haunches. I’ve developed a plan to exercise him on Tuesdays and Fridays, with the assumption that we’ll also play with him on at least one weekend day.

I’ve discovered that he and I are out of tune with each other, and since we both need to tone, I’ve named my program the “Tune and Tone” and am doing most of the exercises with him. So instead of me just standing around in neutral while he works out, I’m inventing patterns we can do together, with only short intervals of me not moving my feet. This means that he isn’t having to trot very much yet because I’m only good for two laps of jogging in the sand before I need to transition back to walking.

Today we power-walked around the ranch for our warm up and then went into the front arena to do this:

walk trot poles figure 8 pattern (1)

We started at the south edge of the arena. We walked north, traveled over four poles on the ground (I engaged my core!), then over half-barrels between two upright barrels, and then to the spools. There, I stood at the spool while he traveled around it and then I backed up to the other spool and directed him around that. As he came around the spool, I went with him so that we made a straight line down the arena back to the south edge. We then turned and headed north again, this time starting our figure 8 on the opposite spool. Thus, two circuits through the poles-barrels-spools made one complete pattern, and we rested along the east edge of the arena.

We ended more in tune than we began, and I have some strategies for making Friday’s session even better.

  • Slow down mentally: this is Rocky (RBI), not River (LBI).
  • Speed up physically: this is Rocky (16.1 hh and big gaits), not River (14.1 hh and small gaits).
  • Repeat the pattern with more confidence and consistency on my part so that Rocky gets a chance to learn the pattern and isn’t just following me around.
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Making the time that it takes

I played with River the same way today as yesterday, with Liberty to warm up and then Freestyle. I tried hard to remember to lift the rein up instead of pulling it out, and the weave was really good for helping me do that. River got into the tighter weave today and booked along (for a given value of “booked along”). We practiced a lap or two of trotting but mainly focused on getting that nice forward walk.

 
       

For Rocky’s session, I put a cone on the gate latch and stuck the carrot stick with bag into it. We played various games, mostly involving Rocky squeezing under the bag. The breeze quit almost as soon as I had the bag secure so that made it a little easier, although I wouldn’t have minded some movement. When it was time to advance the game. I used the purple flag in a cone on the ground, to create a side-to-side squeeze in addition to the above-the-head squeeze. As he advanced through the game he earned many cookies and we ended the evening with some undemanding time, during which he mauled the plastic bag that the cookies came in. This was session 5 of our planned 7, and I’m back on the road for work tomorrow so he’s got until Friday to contemplate his ever-growing bravery!

   
   

Categories: Freestyle, Leadership, River, Rockstar | Leave a comment

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