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!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

One step forward two hops back

Right before ride four. Looks happy to me.
Ride four kicked butt. He felt calm and forward and I got a few steps of trot both ways. We moved away from Chris pretty quickly as well. Ride five we had some regression. He was nervous and tense. I got off a few times when he felt like he might explode, and took him back to the mounting block to work on mounting. We eventually got some calm leaded steps from him and called it quits. Not sure why he was so nervous. Maybe it was us, or it was the weather (windy and overcast), or the fact that Chris had parked the truck in a new place... who knows! I know we will have a lot of days like both of these in the next few months. A few shuffled steps forward followed by some scared scuttles back. Both rides he spent a lot of time giving my outside foot the hairy eyeball again. So weird. In some ways he acts like he has never been ridden, and in others he seems like he just has a lot of baggage. I mean the foot thing sounds like something a horse that was never backed would do doesn't it?

Weather (and maybe nerves) has kept me from riding at all this week. On Monday I had a crappy day at work, and I just did not have the mental or emotional bandwidth to ride, so I hung out with him on the tailgate of the truck with a pocket full of treats and a beer (for me). We worked on getting used to my feet doing weird stuff. It was fun to just hang out with him.

Yesterday it was looking like it was about to rain when I got home so I brought him into the roundpen sans saddle and we worked through all of his gaits going both ways. His canter is coming around, but it is still not pretty, and definitely is far from relaxed. After groundwork, Chris came in and held him why I swung my leg all over his back. We clicked for relaxation. He was pretty tense at first when my foot would pop into that other eye but did not seem to care if I rested it on his butt. So odd. Either way I am hoping that breaking his insecurities down to "you can be okay with my legs and feet hanging around you" will help his tension under saddle.

I have a lesson scheduled for tomorrow, but I don't have high hopes for it, due to the tropical storm heading our way. Yay Florida!

Gray's Corner

He still has some lasting marks from the rub he got from the fly mask, and he is still sensitive there. I decided to halter him anyways yesterday so I could at least give him a proper grooming. He stood like a gentleman and was great for his feet (unlike some golden nut-jobs I know ;) ). I tried on some brushing boots I had picked up at a tack sale for him, and he did not disappoint with a little bit of adorable high stepping. Sorry no video. Gray watches us when I am working with Oak, and he is always following me around. I think he is telling me he is ready for a job!