Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Knowledge Bucket Emptied

We went out Saturday and Sunday to work on you-know-what again. Saturday we were out at the pole for nearly two hours as I tried to convince Jessie to "get" this exercise. She was all over the place. We must have gone around that pole a thousand times. She was far too interested in everything else (which was nothing I could see) to pay attention to what we were doing. I had my ipod on and was listening to music so and felt that if I just kept doing the exercise over and over she would eventually get it.

Sunday we went out again. We worked on a couple of other exercises, but we were in the same "space" as the pole. I was hoping I could establish this as our training area. After about an hour we still weren't getting anywhere and I was losing my patience so we headed home. I tried to borrow my neighbor's arena, but he couldn't leave me alone, offering me advice on what he thought I was trying to do and that just increased my frustration. So then we went out back into our now much smaller training area and did some groundwork, which always makes me feel better.

Monday I was up at 5:15 to try again. As we headed out to the pole she wanted to go off in another direction so I said, "Fine, you win. Let's go where you want." She took off across this open field to the south. She was traveling in a straight line at a relaxed pace. We got to an irrigation canal and I had to steer her to the west and at her first opportunity she turned away from home and headed south again. She continued for about a 1/4 mile and I think I saw the light come on that she realized she was moving away from home. I asked for a whoa and got it, turned around so home and the pole were in front of us. Again, at a trot, she traveled in a straight line and it was as if I was doing a passenger lesson. We got to a fork where the pole was in one direction and home in the other and I steered her to the pole and stopped there for a rest.

After a few minutes I asked her to go and she took off south again. About a hundred yards away I gently steered her to face the pole and as soon as I dropped the reins she veered away. I let her go until we got to our boundaries and after about 12 minutes we were resting at the pole again.

Everything had been at a trot so far and I could see she was looking for the resting spot. We took off again and she was on her own again. Again, I tried to gently steer her back, but she would just veer in the other direction. 10 minutes later as we reached the fork I looked over in the direction of the pole. She softly veered to the right and headed straight for the pole and a well-deserved break. We had been trotting for nearly forty minutes. After a short break we headed home.

My guess is that this exercise is so difficult because we've missed something up til now. He lack of attention to me is frustrating and, even though I worked the snot out of her at the lope and trot, it doesn't seem to make a difference. I hope this new direction with this exercise will help.
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