Today was a great day. Rio tried out his new leather headcollar, and looked so very smart. When we got to the parelli play day, it was changed for a rope halter and long line. The above is the first attempt and demo of how I was to play the Friendly Game. Rio was unsure of what to make of it all at first. He wasn't worried about the carrot stick and didn't move away when asked, and then took a few rounds of "lunging" before he settled.
After a little while of playing Friendly, he soon got the idea. It's as much of a learning curve for me as well as him - if not more so for me! He's such a clever boy. Holding the carrot stick in the appropriate position, dropping your energy, and slumping when they've responded correctly - it's a lot to think about!
We learned about moving off, and trying to drive from zone 3 (much harder than expected...) this took some effort initially but that was more down to me not grasping the concept to begin with. We tried to mix this in with some target touching, which had some mixed results, but he achieved so much in such a short space of time, I really was so pleased.
Standing at ease with no grass munching! You can see him watching to see what we're going to do next. There were so many photo opportunities today, and he had his ears forward so much - I was too busy having fun to play photographer even though I had taken two cameras. It's no wonder Rio was all sweaty - we worked and thought hard!
Before lunch we had a little play in the arena with a tarpaulin, and he didn't bat an eyelid at it - he thought it was great fun following it around, and barely moved when I put it over him. He did have it up higher than this but I didn't get a photo, and he was happy walking with it over him too. Brave little man! We left both boys loose in the arena when we stopped for a spot of lunch. Whilst they have travelled together a number of times now, and been out on adventures together, they've never been in a field together before. They were having an awesome time in the arena, but sadly as soon as we headed over to try and get some footage, there they were like butter wouldn't melt!
With all of the larking around, and once Rio had become a little acquainted with the big bouncy ball, we played with it some more, and I managed to get him to walk into it a couple of times to push it along with his chest. After a little more work on the ground, and with almost everyone else taking part in the barrel racing, I headed over to tack up and hop on for a little 10 minute ride to ease back in. Little did I know that this would be an impromptu lesson with Sarah, and with Rio very relaxed and paying attention, the pressure was on me not to let him down!
We did walking over poles, and then some trotting over poles, which threw me a little as it was the first time of doing 4 trot poles in a row and I'd never experienced him truly picking himself up like that. He even was offering up odd strides of canter, so Sarah said it would be a good time to try and get an established canter for a length of the arena. The only problem with that is my hands! I don't think it helped that I've been out of the saddle for a couple of weeks now, but I know I do it anyway, I ALWAYS throw my hands away when I ask for canter. If I'm not throwing them away, I'm snatching them back when he goes to boost off into canter, and therefore blocking him. He "springs" into canter and in a schooling environment, it still catches me off guard.
Luckily I have a neck strap and it has proven today to be a great addition to Rio's wardrobe. By looping two fingers through the neck strap, I was able to keep my inside hand down, and in turn my loose outside hand stayed much more still, and gave me the control I needed to keep him out. With a little bit of pony club kicking and some dodgy sitting trot, we made it at least half way around the arena a couple of times! He dropped out of it on his own, so before we finished, we had a canter on each rein where I ensured I was the one to ask for the downward transition. It was great. I was starting to feel like I was letting him down, but thanks to the neck strap and some positive guidance from Sarah, we made it!
Ride safe x