Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Training wheels are coming off!

 Even though we had the hurricane (which meant no power for two days) the weather was beautiful by the time I had my lesson. AS always, we started with ground work. We worked on getting a decent working walk out of him, and she also taught me how to half halt using the lunge line. We also talked about getting insight into how he is using his back by the way the saddle is moving. She also advised me to not to move into riding until I see signs of focus and relaxation from him. He is such a stoic guy I sometimes have a hard time reading him which in turn makes me nervous.

Ride six!
The time I spent desensitizing him to my feet and legs must have paid off because he was very calm and happy as I mounted up. We spent a good amount of time on the lunge pushing for more and more trot. He was very sluggish, and kept stopping every time I said "good" thinking that must meant he was done! Definitely more whoa then go right now.

We concluded the lesson by taking him off the lunge and having him walk, trot, and halt with my aids alone. He did great! He really listens to my seat, and was still very hard to get to go forward. She had me try to trot him into the middle of the pen and change directions but we just kept loosing momentum. After realizing our hour lesson had gone an hour over we called it a day.

I have now ridden Oak two more times since Friday, both ending off the lunge cruising around the round pen (we are at 8 rides total for folks keeping up at home). He has moments of tension, but overall he seems like a happy camper. He is not very forward at this point (which I think is a good thing) and his steering is not so good. He really does feel very green. Not sure he really ever had consistent or proper training. My guess is it has been all pony rides and the "cowboying" up until this point.  Hoping that giving him an actual foundation will give him the confidence he lacks. So far, it seems to be working!

Our first trot with no training wheels!
I have asked my instructor if she would switch to lessons once a week, because I feel like we evolve so much each ride at this point, I could use more on the ground feedback. My partner has been awesome as a stand-in when she is not around, but he can't give me that crucial feedback as well as she can. Oak is also is a little wary of him, which is counter productive.

Gray's Corner

I put him in the roundpen and worked on walk, trot transitions for a few minutes. It has been months since I asked anything of him on the line. He pulled some faces, but was otherwise a good boy. I then introduced a saddle to him for the first time. We started with a review of a saddle pad which he could care less about. I then slowly introduced a saddle (Wintec with no stirrups) by letting him investigate (no you can't eat it) rubbing it on his shoulders, neck and back, and finally placing it on his back. I ended the session by taking it on and off on both sides. He did not bat an eye.

Hey mom! You forgot the pad!
I can tell by his reactions to the small amount of lunging I have done that he will be resistant to anything he deems "work" but on the flip side he is so naturally confident that introducing new things is a breeze. The three take-aways I have are:

1. Establish rules and boundaries and be consistent.
2. Don't drill him or bore him. Try to make things fun!
3. Remember to still take things slow his confidence makes it easy to skip steps, but I will regret that later!


  1. This all sounds so good! Steele was a bit 'sluggish' at first too. I think that when he felt unbalanced or uncertain his reaction was to slow down. Which is way better than Carmen's idea to run away!

    1. Yes! I am really happy with his current default to stop and ask for clarification/reassurance!

  2. I think you're both doing very well. And, yes, I'd prefer a stop to a bolt when they are unsure. I think you can't do enough ground work, it's the foundation to everything. Good luck and have fun.