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February 21, 2015: Turning the Seasonal Corner

It’s quite odd, to turn what I call the seasonal corner on an utterly abysmal day weather-wise. It’s now 36 degrees here and it’s raining. It’s downright unpleasant. This morning, I got up, went outside to tend to the animals and I says to myself “It’s fixing to do something out here.” I could see the low-lying clouds, could feel the wind picking up. I finished feeding the critters, went inside, and ate breakfast.

I couldn’t sleep because summer plans kept coming to mind. I gave some thought to a plan that I had some time ago – it resurfaced. Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going north with Pete to Fairbanks for the competitive trail ride. Then I’m going to ride my bike home.

Once home, I’m going to ride Raudi to Sutton, maybe a ways farther – then I’ll get back on my bicycle and ride to Whittier, where I’ll do a sea kayak trip with Pete. I got to thinking that in order to do this that I’ll need to work at getting in shape. This is going to provide me with the impetus to engage in vigorous exercising. I did talk with Pete about this at breakfast, but he paid it little mind. This is because he has not yet turned the seasonal corner.

After breakfast we futzed around a bit before heading out for a walk, me leading Hrimmi and Pete leading Tinni. The driveway and road were a tad bit slippery, so we were careful. Once we were onto the trail, we relaxed because the footing was just fine. It then started to drizzle. We came home and I first did some agility with Raudi. I didn’t have a whole lot of time – it turned out to be yet another instance in which a little bit of time was a good thing. Yep, it was a day when another piece of the agility puzzle fell into place. This centered around the use of hand signals in training horses. 11 years and I had never before made the connection between this and the use of positive reinforcement. I, for some odd reason decided to use my hands in having Raudi come, stop, and move on. And this worked. Previously, I’d been fairly voice dependent.

This month’s agility course lent itself to this discovery. The course consists of 5 obstacles (streams, pole, L turn, hula hoop, and narrow thing). You go around twice, the first time walking the horse through and the second time stopping and having the horse stand before moving on. Easy obstacles, and perfect for the use of hand signals. I first took Raudi through both times with no lead – this went well. And I had to use my hands. This is how I figured this out. The second time I used the lead – of course, being a smart pony, she knew what to do. The same held true for Hrimmi, though her attention span was a bit shorter.

I next took Raudi and the dogs out on the trail. I practiced come, using the hand beckon signal twice, once when I let her off the lead and once after she got away from me. (Other trail users startled her.) Both times she returned. I now understand how people train horses for circus and other on-ground work – it’s primarily through the use of body cues. It is odd that I never before figured this out. Now, in less than a few hours’ time, I see this as an integral part of animal training.

The rain, by the time I was done with the horses, was pouring and even the heavily sanded driveway was slippery. It’s yucky. And the rain is supposed to continue. Oh well. This is going to put a crimp on horseback riding, but I consider myself lucky that I have been able to ride all winter. Others have not been so fortunate.

This afternoon Pete and I went to a BCHA horse packing clinic. It was good. Dick brought Jokla and her dam Carmen along. Essentially, the person teaching the clinic gave a lengthy demonstration. There was very little hands on activity. So we kinesthetic learners contented ourselves by talking with one another. I myself had a lot of catching up to do – for Marge, Ruth, Frank, Greg, and Brit were there.

It appears as though there are going to be a lot of packing trips this summer. This is a good thing—I’m not a big one for group horse treks – my idea of a good time is to go out and ride the trails with Pete. But, far better to have horses on the trails than ATVs.

Back to the original topic – the prospect of upcoming trips. Pete and my plans as well as the group’s plans are indicative of the fact that we really are on the flip side of winter. The days are getting longer and the weather is getting milder. And so everyone’s upcoming plans are reflective of this. This is of course based on date rather than weather thinking because right now the weather is crappy.

I am also thinking that if I’m serious about doing my Alaska overland trek that I’m going to need to start working out. Yes, I can do this. Spring isn’t in the air. But it is in the works.

Next: 53. 2/22/15: Birdman, Revisited

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