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March 1, 2015: Keeping Agility in Perspective

A beautiful day here, sunny, temperatures in the high 30s. Nice to stand in the horse pen, where the sun usually shines brightly. Today’s list of things to do included horsey items. Did them. First dewormed the critters, and then took file photos. We are taking photos so that we can monitor their external condition.

Pete and I next set up the agility course. One of the obstacles was yet another narrow thing. Pete constructed this one out of some wide PVC pipe we have on hand, and four green buckets (in honor of St. Patrick’s Day) with snow in them. There are, this time around, just five

obstacles, which were each done twice – the narrow thing, the streamer curtain, the hula hoop, the L poles, and the single pole. I’d been practicing two or three at a time, so I thought this would be a piece of cake. I was wrong. It was more difficult than I thought it would be. I gave Pete the course directives and he read them off to me. I had Raudi in hand. I quickly discovered that I’d erred in thinking that I was to go around the course twice, in the same order. As he pointed out, the second go-round doesn’t follow the order of the first go around. And horse and handler must do differing things at each obstacle.

So I had Pete be the horse and I led him through the course. This helped some. I hadn’t memorized the order, so I didn’t quite know what to do. So I didn’t do all that well. As for Raudi – well, she was, ahem, a bit inattentive today. She just wasn’t interested in doing agility today. It was almost laughable. She hovered some, tried to knock down the narrow thing, and hit her hooves on all the ground objects. As Pete rightly said, she had an “I don’t give a shit today,” attitude. Or, so I then thought.

Okay. So after a short while (and no completed video), Pete and I wisely decided to call it good. I was pleased because I’d been so patient with my beloved horse. This was and remains my objective. At the same time, I am working at keeping this whole deal in perspective. I could get stressed out about making the perfect agility video. Instead, I realized that this was not going to happen today. And if Raudi continues to show complete disinterest, I will bag doing agility altogether.

Pete and I next went for a trail ride, which of course went well. After, I put a post and the hula hoop in the driveway. The horse, in the second go-round, is to step into the hula hoop and then the handler, After backing to the end of the line, calls the horse to them. As for the post – the horse is supposed to step over it, and then step back in the opposite direction.

Raudi didn’t do great at either activity, but she did better than previously. I could see that she was thinking – what must I do to get the treat? I finally figured out with the post, that I need to set her up, as I do with the hula hoop. She can more readily back over it if I take her a few steps forward. And I optimize success by chunking things down, and rewarding her for moving her individual leg back, without hitting the post.

What I subsequently realized was that Raudi and my doing the entire course was a bit much. Rather, we needed to work on getting the moves in relation to the individual obstacles down first. However, I would not have known this unless we first tried doing the course in its entirety.

So it was a very good day in that I learned a great deal. I have two weeks to go before I have to submit my third video.  It’s good to have a plan, and my plan is to work on individual obstacles this week, and next weekend again attempt to do the entire course. It feels good to have a plan, and as well to have a huge learning day behind me.

Next: 60. 3/2/15: Raudi’s Thinking Cap

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