Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Right Lesson at the Right Time

I was talking to a horse trainer friend of mine about my preparations for getting Oak ready to back when she asked "have you worked on movement when he is moving? Like moving the stirrup with a rope while you lunge him?" I had not done anything like that, and thought why not? I am always happy to add more steps to the backing process if it means I can avoid a bruised petunia later on.

So today, I tacked him up with a bridle and saddle for the first time in about a month and he did not bat an eye. I started with our normal routine of lunging in the arena as a warm up. He was pretty bratty. Actually reminded me of a haflinger for the first time since I got him. Kept trying to steal bites of grass and then getting huffy when I insisted he get to work. A little pushy and back to his habit of anticipating what I want instead of listening. I am starting to sense this is what he is like when he is bored.

SO I made it more interesting. I attached a second line to a stirrup and asked him to circle at the trot again. I got a few jumps and snorts as I began to flap the stirrup around and a big buck and scuttle across the arena when I managed to flip the stirrup over the saddle. After the interruption of bucking, I got him back on a nice circle and started flapping again. This time he was a little less reactive. When I managed to flip the stirrup over the saddle again, he stopped and faced me which I rewarded. I was so excited to see him do what I had taught him to do when he encountered a scary object during our ball/tarp work. Yay generalization!

For the next 15 minutes things just got better with less and less reactions as I slapped the stirrup around on both sides. We quit when I flipped the stirrup over again on the other rein and he did not react at all. We ended the session by practicing giving to the bit on both sides. He seemed very thoughtful.

Judging by his attitude in the beginning, I am really happy I stepped up the training today. He obviously needed a reminder that I am a pretty interesting person, and it felt good to test out his behavior when the adrenaline starts flowing.  Despite some obvious initial nervousness, he never became inconsolably upset, uncontrollable, or over reactive. Great news for the times ahead because horse training is hardly ever a completely tranquil process. Glad I have a pony with a good head on his shoulder for the bumpy road ahead.

 Oak Training Log May 4

Location: Arena

Duration: 40 mins

Activities: Confidence with stirrups flapping while moving. Giving to the bit.

Observations: Some fireworks, but huge progress within the session. Very soft in his gives to the bit.

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