Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RIP Gogo Fatale

This has been a week full of crazy ups and downs, but mostly downs. Among other things (which I'll talk about later), I heard the news that one of my favorite "blogger" horses, Gogo, was given rest today after several years fighting against compounding injuries. I know how hard it is to have to make that decision for someone/something you love so much, and my heart aches for Andrea at Eventing-A-Gogo. Although we have never met, I have been reading her blog for several years and have become very much invested in the saga of Andrea and Gogo.

It is definitely a somber night here. Please send some good thoughts to Andrea (and Gogo). I don't quite know what else to say.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Waiting... and Planning :-P

Because Penny currently lives 8 hours away, and I won't really get to work with her on the daily until December (gasp), I've had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with her and how to accomplish those goals.

After all, she's very smart and very sassy :-P

Here's what I've come up with so far as a general guideline of what I'd like to accomplish with her before next summer:

This fall (October-End of November):
- Let her decompress and get used to her new barn
- Help her to continue to gain weight and condition
- Get her feet in better condition with at least two more good barefoot trims
- Start her on BioFlax
- Work on groundwork, continue the work April (her current trainer) has been doing with her (loading, tying, clipping, feet, desensitizing, etc)
- Hand walk her around (and possibly off) the property to build confidence and condition.
- Introduce her to the clicker and aim to shape at least one behavior (however small) per session. Start with stretches and stuff (the clicker is great for that kind of thing!)

This Winter (December-February... once I'm back in town and can see her often):
- Teach her how to lunge, with the goal of having her be able to W/T/C and halt obediently on voice commands, both directions.
- Possibly teach her to ground drive (I may be taking some ground driving lessons soon... I'll keep y'all posted!)
- Introduce her to the bridle, work up to being able to use it while lunging and ground driving ;)
- Introduce her to the saddle (possibly both English and Western), get her to the point where it doesn't bother her at all. I want all this stuff to be really boring for her!
- Continue with ground work and desensitization to scary stuff (tarps flapping, tupperware, umbrellas, etc).
- Continue with clicker training, maybe work on some tricks!

This Spring (March-May... we should be having fun by now!)
- Keep up with the lunging and ground work. If I haven't already, introduce side reins and ground poles/cavaletti
- Do some in-hand trail stuff
- Trailer out someplace, have a positive experience.
- Bathe her for the first time (if I don't get to it this fall).
- If everything is going well, start riding her! Establish basic manners under saddle, start us both on the path to getting in "riding shape."
- Start teaching her the basics of how to carry herself properly, bending, contact, etc.
- Get "out of the arena" fairly quickly and start doing short rides around the property (and possibly off, depending on how quiet she is and if we can find a buddy).

So.... how does this look? It's been a long time since I did any kind of horse training project, especially one of this magnitude. How does the pacing look? I am aiming for a plan that pushes us, but that isn't impossible (or too easy). Is there anything I should add or take out? Any skills I'm missing that she really should know in this time frame?