Sunday, January 8, 2012

This Weekend’s Routine


"Donnie"
We’ve had a really nice weekend weather-wise, which is unheard of this time of year around here.  It’s been in the 40’s and 50’s and makes you really want to get out and do something with the horses.  I’m hoping this continues so we can work consistently with the horses, eliminating the time it would take to get them in shape when the spring season rolls around.  If we can continue to work with them, spring should see horses fit and sassy and ready to go. That said, we’ll most likely have a blizzard soon because I'm sure I just jinxed myself.

Dusty and I have had two days of walking in the indoor.  Fifteen minutes in each direction.  She seems a little confused by it but she’s not opposed to some treats to ease her mind.  Dusty has a tendency to walk very fast and get ahead of me on the lead.  She doesn’t know where she’s going, but she’s making good time.  We’re working on her walking at my shoulder during our sessions.  Smart girl, she’s catching on quickly.  You may wonder why I’ve never worked on this before and the answer would be:  I did.  When I first got her as a green five year old she marched forward the same way and we would do lots of stops and circling and she finally got the message. I guess over the years this unwanted behavior slowly crept back and I never noticed or it didn’t bother me enough to work on it.  I’m guilty of always being in a hurry and walking fast to get where I’m going too, so maybe she picked up on that. Whatever the reason, we’re back to working on her pace while we therapy walk. Dusty is a horse that has to have a reason or a purpose for any behavior so learning to walk like a lady instead of a longshoreman is the reason I’m giving her for our morning walks together.

Donnie started back into longeing on Saturday and did well with his walk and trot to the left.  When we changed sides and I sent him out to walk he spooked at something and started cantering and didn’t want to come back immediately.  He’s never dangerous, he just gets nervous.  I feel the best thing to do in a situation like this is stop moving my feet and hands and give him soft calm voice cues until he stops.  If I show that I’m not upset and remain calm he will, in turn, have the confidence in me to guide him and not let the monsters in the woods eat him.  My attitude helped him to trust that I knew he would be okay and he stopped after a few laps.  We then took a nice walk around the arena with lots of petting and telling him what a good smart boy he is. Sunday we did a simple revisiting of his basic clicker training to give him confidence in himself and turned him out for the day.  I like to give my horses jobs they can excel in.  Next time we’ll longe again.  Instead of drilling the same thing every day, I feel it’s beneficial to break up learning activities into different routines.

Saturday was also Blue’s turn for a light ride.  It took me forever to groom him; he’s the dirtiest horse in the barn.  He’s got to work on this and he’s a genius at filthy.  His eyes were running and he coughed a bit so we just walked for about twenty minutes and I got off.  Of course, I didn’t realize until I mounted and couldn’t reach the stirrup that I had put the wrong saddle on him.  It was my daughter’s saddle for Nate.  Still unaware of my mistake I said to her “were you riding in my saddle?”  Well, when she could catch her breath from being in hysterics she told me it wasn’t my saddle.  She wasn’t going to tell me if I didn’t notice.  How did this happen?  Easy the saddle was on my rack and I just grabbed it.  Blue was the third horse to work that day and I wasn’t paying attention.  Another senior moment…

Sunday Blue and I did the same clicker refresher course.  When I brought him in from the paddock he was dragging his feet and I could tell he really didn’t have it in him to work.  His allergies are still bothering him and I can’t blame him for not wanting to trot around with me on his back.  We’ll wait until he’s feeling better for a ride.

Until next time
Quote for Today
A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient horse walks in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you.


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