Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rides two and three

I had guests all weekend, so I did not get a chance to practice what I had worked on with our coach until Monday. This time, my wonderful partner Chris was my assistant on the ground. Oak was definitely more nervous and tense the second time around. Maybe it was because Chris was not as comfortable as our coach? Maybe having Chris help instead of the trainer made me a little more nervous? Not sure. I practiced getting off and on (the saddle still worries me with its slipping!) and he seemed okay. Then I had Chris walk him off and Oak was very hesitant to move forward. He also started doing the weird kicking/stomping thing he does when he is really nervous, so I hopped off and we had a "re-do." He was much calmer when I hopped on a second time, and was better about walking with Chris. We just walked him around both directions and called it a day.

Hanging out with Oak after our third ride

Wednesday was our third ride. Chris has done some clicker training, so I suggested he practice walking Oak without me on him first and reward Oak for good transitions and for being calm and forward. Next, I had him mark and reward him for staying calm while I practiced mounting and dismounting. Oak seemed calmer. Then, I had Chris reward Oak as he had before only this time I was on his back. Only one tiny kick this time. He was much more forward and relaxed. I think using clicker training helped us all focus on the positive and relax and listen to each other. Chris said it helped him focus on what Oak was doing ride then that he could reward, which helped him stay calm. I felt like we had more of a plan, so I know my breathing was better, and Oak am sure liked figuring out what the heck we wanted from him!

I ended the session by moving Oak away from Chris with some rein and applying a little leg to cue forward myself. He did really well with it. The only new strangeness I noted for our third ride was that Oak was giving my outside foot a lot of side-eye. Before I dismounted I wiggled my feet around in the stirrups to address that a little. Definitely made him tense up. I waited until I got a little release (blinking), and I rewarded him with a pat and dismount. Overall really proud of him!

Oak is also cantering both directions now in the roundpen. He still has balance issues, and we are slowly building up strength, but he canters a little more each session. He moves off really well -- no bucking or kicking out which is great!

Gray got a rub from the flymask so I am waiting on that to heal up before I put a halter on him to work with him. It is always something with that horse! I have been playing with him at liberty in the paddock for a few minutes everyday, but I hope to really get some serious work done soon!

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