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Author Topic: Training adventures  (Read 5937 times)

zipeddodah

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Training adventures
« on: November 18, 2013, 12:43:16 pm »

I decided to start a new journal. The one about Lex ended up being as much about all the other horses in my life as Lex so.....
I am starting a new horse, a 3 yr old Morgan that belongs to Vivian. I wrote about him a little in the old journal but will update here. He is barely started. Vivian has done a beautiful job teaching him to lead, have his feet handled, trailer load, and all the other usual ground manners required of a good horse. This little guy is not one bit pushy or mouthy, he seems very calm, if not somewhat shut down even. Vivian got so far as to saddle him and get on but that's where things went south. He freaked out during the second ride, took off and ran away with her....got to the end of the arena and stopped. He never tried to buck but Vivian said she couldn't turn him at all, she had no steerage at all! No wonder. Somewhere in all her ground work with him she failed to teach him to give to pressure. He had no idea that pressure on his face, side, mouth....means something! He would just shut down and if you continued to apply more and more pressure to get a response, he would shut down even more. By shut down I mean he would seemingly go to "sleep"! He would drop his head and close his eyes! (which usually means the next move will be to explode) So my challange when I started working with him was to discover how to get him to pay attention to me and how to present a lesson to him in a way that would stimulate him to react in an appropriate way and not shut down. What I discovered was he was afraid to look directly at me, especially out of his right eye. I also discovered that he needs lessons broken down into little tiny steps with lots of praise for even the slightest attempt to react. The first day it took me over 2 hours to get him to flex around in a halter and look at me with his right eye....softly, not with the wild eye, and relax, take a deep breath and just stand there. But we finally got him very soft and the next time I worked with him a week or so later, he was soft and relaxed from the start and could see me with soft eyes. At that point I put him in a snaffle bit and repeated the lesson. Again he had trouble flexing to the right as he didn't understand what the pressure at the side of his mouth meant. This time, as with the halter, I applied just enough pressure to indicate I wanted him to do something, and then I waited for him to decide to do something. If he tried to "go to sleep" I would jiggle the reins but not put any more pressure on him. Praise for the slightest little response. It didn't take too long before he was as soft in the bit as he was in the halter. The next thing I started teaching him was to move away fron pressure on his side. I use my thumb and poke right in his side just in front of his flank area. I don't stab or poke actually, rather I apply steady pressure, maybe 5 lb worth until he steps away with his rear end. The act of stepping away automatically releases the pressure. Then I pet and praise. He got quite good on his left side but the right side was again more difficult. As he got more responsive I started insisting he step over with his inside rear foot first. This requires the horse to step under his belly and across the midline, preparation for collection much later in his training. So my next lesson with him will be more of the same, perfecting and refining what we've already done. If all goes well I may saddle him. It of course depends on him. Can't wait to see how he does!

Thursday: well I worked with Amigo today. He is sure a nice horse. I reviewed all the stuff we had learned in the last lesson and he remembered but was not exactly quick to respond. He just seemed lazy this time, not shut down so I got a whip and asked politely for him to trot on the lunge line. When he ignored me I popped the ground. He continued to ignore me so I popped him! That got his attention and he trotted for about half a circle then dropped to a walk. I popped him again. After that he trotted until I told him to stop, both directions and each time I asked. That was nice and he seems to get motivated pretty easily once he's convinced you mean it. On asking him to move his rear end laterally to pressure from my finger at his side, the first time he needed a good bit of pressure before he took a step but after that he understood and remembered what to do so that by the end of the lesson he was stepping over to the lightest touch. He is still having more trouble bending to the right but that is getting better each time. To day by the end of the lesson he was stepping pretty far under with his right rear and getting much more supple. In order to get him to step under with his right rear first I found I had to direct him in a much more forward direction with my right hand. This allowed him to step under with his right rear without having to bend much as bending on the right side is hard for him. As he got better at this I was able to direct his head a little more laterally so that he had to bend a bit in order to move his rear. He of course needs a lot more practice with this but at least he's starting to get the idea. Also at no time today did he give me any attitude like Lex used to do. Even when I popped him he didn't resent it, and he did pick up the pace once he understood what I wanted him to do. I had to pop him lightly once when he took a nip at me. Actually I think he was trying to be curious or maybe looking for cookies, who knows and it doesn't matter....the horse is never to put his teeth on the human....never. So I popped him. The next time he thought about lipping me I just had to look at him....gave him the evil eye....and he changed his mind. Smart boy. Finally I placed Dodah's saddle on him. It didn't fit well but I figured it was ok for this lesson as I had no intention of getting on him. I threw that saddle up there on both sides but only after I had blanketed him several times. He was worried about the blanket sliding off his rear end so I spent some time throwing it over his butt. Then the saddle. No reaction. I had him in the arena and I was able to throw that saddle on him.....and by throw I mean toss it up there pretty fast and with no care as to whether it bumped his side or landed crooked, with him just ground tied. He didn't move a step. Once I girthed him up....and he did react slightly to that, so I will need to spend more time getting him ok with the girth.....I lunged him at a trot both directions and he never got worried. So next time I will probably get on him if he continues to remember today's lesson and continues to be such a good boy. Can't wait.
Will be interesting to see how he gaits. Vivian says he gaits out in the pasture but I've never seen him. He does appear to want to take some gaiting steps now and then just before he trots and she says that time he ran off with her he gaited. However Vivian has never ridden a gaited horse and isn't real good with recognizing the gaits so her assesment may not be accurate. We'll just have to see what he does under saddle. He is very short coupled but doesn't have a lot of over reach so who knows what he will do. I suspect a little rack but will have to wait to find out.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 08:33:07 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2013, 04:59:05 pm »

Today I rode Roger....first time in about 4? Years. He seemed totally sound, even while walking over some gravel and lumpy concrete in the driveway. I used my wintek aussy saddle which used to be way too wide for him but he's gained so much weight and his back has filled out so much the saddle actually fit pretty good but felt a little insecure when I was sitting in it so it may still be a little wide. He was not listening to me very well today but the weather was just turning reallycold with blowing wind and we were riding alone so some lack of focus is to be expected. I made him do a bunch of tight circles around some trees and that got him better focused and settled. I only rode him maybe 30 minutes and just at a walk. Next time I'll try a little longer ride and some gaiting as long as he is calm and focused.
Yesterday I hopped on Lex bareback in the round pen. We did some bridleless work....turning, halt, back up, go forward, turn on haunches and forehand (those were not exactly perfect but he tried) and spanish walk! Yep he still remembers that silly spanish walk. I can't wait till my arena is finished! It will be so fun to be able to work on his canter every day as the mood strikes! My short term goal is to get him to take both leads every time, from a walk, with just the slightest cue, then canter leg yields and half pass. We get that done and I bet he'll be collected enough for tempis but that is a long way off, if ever....I gotta learn a LOT before that.

Sigh....it is still raining. They haven't been able to work on my arena for 3 weeks. The pad just about dries out enough and it rains again! At this point it will take 2 weeks of dry windy sunny weather for the dang thing to dry enough that the guys can get the man lift on the pad to start putting up the beams and supports. Sigh. I can just imagine riding Lex in there, working on canter circles, teaching Dodah to ride bridleless, working with miss Maisey on her lateral work...so many projects and I can't even get started....except, of course for the stuff I can do on the trail. In that respect we've gotten some good things going with Maisey. I've been working on teaching her to quietly stand still while all the other horses go on ahead and really any time I ask her to stand. She's gone from getting pretty cranky and trying to rear, to stopping, asking politely if she can move on and then standing quietly when I tell her "no". And she will stand there for a good long time....not for many minutes yet but longer than she used to do. So progress. And she is much much better about moving out than she used to be. Several times lately she has asked to canter and I've let her. Her canter is kind of lumbering because she is still pretty heavy on the forehand, but as she gets lighter her canter is improving. But boy is she not fast! Her run walk is faster than her canter! Still she is fun to ride and getting better all the time. Once I get her lateral work going better she will be better able to collect. It's going to be a blast to see what she will be able to do then! My plan for her is competative trail but who knows what she will want to do. This last week she finally figured out she can actually pick up her little feet and hop over those big fat logs. Maybe she'll like jumping.

Fri, Dec 13: Maisey choked 2 days ago. I went out to turn them loose after feeding and she had been laying down and was doing the curled lip that she always does when her tummy hurts ( she has colicked several times, never severe and always when she needs worming, that's why I have her on a more frequent worming schedule than the other horses). So per her symptoms I think she's colicking again and it really concerned me because I just wormed her a week ago. Just to be sure she really was in trouble I turned her out into the pasture and sure nuff she threw herself down...didn't roll but did stretch out and flop her head around. Distressing for sure. So off to the vet. Their first question....is she pregnate....ha! That little pig is so fat they thought she was preggers, or worse given the circumstances, bloated. Bring out the ultrasound and do a rectal.....nothing. Bloodwork....normal. She was very uncomfortable and kept making this funny sort of belch sound....or like she wanted to belch but couldn't. I thought at the time it sounded like she was choking but none of the other symptoms indicated a choke and other than that little sound she did none of the other symptoms usually associated with choke such as foaming, and attempting to swallow by contracting the neck. Well the vets finally got around to refluxing her and guess what....the tube wouldn't go down. Choke.
So here's the deal. I started feeding safe choice senior a couple of weeks ago in order to keep more weight on my old boys through the winter. Everybody has been getting this feed. Before this I fed regular safe choice....both pelleted feeds....and have been real happy with that feed. But Red choked last week....mild choke easily resolved, no trip to vet needed....and now Maisey. So here's my theory....it's cold, horses aren't drinking as much as they do in the summer. Also they are more hungry due to less of the green stuff and being cold all the time so they tend to bolt their food. This new food has more fat in it which makes it more sticky than other pelleted feeds. All those things combined to create a situation where choke is more likely. If you add in the probability that most horses eating senior feed are older and maybe don't have the best teeth.....well it ain't a good combination.
So, now everybody gets their food soaked....I make it real sloppy, almost liquid, because that stuff does get real gummy when it's just a little wet....it takes a lot of water! And the added benefit is the horses have to eat slower. The down side to all this is it's cold and I have to fill buckets with water in the cold, and stand out there while they take their time eating (I don't have enough stalls right now to keep them all separated.)  Oh the abuse we suffer to keep our babies happy!
The other thing I learned from this experience.....Maisey is a drama queen.....she will curl her lip and throw herself down when she hurts no matter what the problem is! Wow, that's going to make it a lot harder to discern what her problem is when this happens in the future. Little stinker. I need to teach her to point to flash cards to tell me what's wrong! Or paw once for colic and twice for choke....maybe 3 times for a headache.
Parade tomorrow.....should be fun but it's going to be cold! Dodah and Maisey are going to wear poinsettas and red ribbon. I haven't told them yet. Dodah has little patience for such friviolity. I combed out his mane and tail the other day and you should have seen the look on his face! He thinks he's a saint for putting up with me. I smile to think what he's going to say when I put those flowers in his mane. Ha!
« Last Edit: December 13, 2013, 08:29:38 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 01:38:17 pm »

Well we did the parade and survived! It was sunny and almost warmish but by the time we got the horses saddled, decorated, and mounted up the clouds had rolled in wind picked up and it got down right cold! UGH!!!!  I was so unprepared! No jacket, nothing but a little ole santa hat that barely covered my ears. Lew finally remembered a jacket I had left in the truck and once I got that on the ride was tolerable.
This was the first parade for both Maisey and Dodah. I expected Maisey to freak out but actually it was Dodah that was most upset. Of course he had an unfamiliar rider on and I'm sure that didn't help. He kept coming up beside Maisey and nipping her and got me by mistake a couple of times! Didn't hurt but I started watching him and each time he came up I'd reach over and pet him and scratch his head to help him with his nerves and that seemed to calm him and he stopped the biting. Maisey, the little toot walked right out as though she'd been doing parades all her life! She was in a hurry though and didn't like standing still at all and kept flippin her head and pawing.....so we still have work to do in the patience department. The only time she got even a little spooky was when we passed the fire truck, band, and high school cheerleaders that had been at the front of the parade....they were headed back just as we were headed out....long parade! Maisey had to really look at those band members....they weren't quite human, especially the ones with drums and tubas! She did a beautiful shoulder fore for about a quarter mile. Actually, although she insisted on going shoulder fore, she was not pulling on me at all and I felt totally in control and could have straightened her out but I kind of enjoyed her little manuver! Felt like showing off a bit. Dodah kind of held back and wanted to be behind Maisey. I think he felt more secure when he could see her in front as I was mostly on his blind side when we went side by side. He was pretty upset at first and I think Sue was a bit nervous but he did settle down pretty quick and then he was real steady.
Oh wow I'm sitting here in the living room and my whole herd of horses just came running by. They are really tearing up the turf out there! Don't know what set them off but they are sure having fun. Even Blue is running and he's leading the pack! I haven't seen that horse move like that in years! I sure miss riding him.....one of my all time favorite horses. It's good to see him feeling so good.

Tues dec17? Well I got to work with Amigo again yesterday. I quickly ran through all the stuff I had previously taught him and he seemed to remember everything pretty well. At the very beginning he was reluctant to do the halter flexes to the right, no surprise, but I just waited on him and he finally brought his face around and looked at me. I am real careful when I do this to put just enough pressure on the halter that he knows I'm asking for something but I'm not pulling his head around. I want it to be his idea to bring it around and I want those ears level, no tipping of the nose, and I want him to look at me with a quiet eye. He only took a minute or 2 to give me this. So then I lunged him and guess what! He is gaited for sure! I was lunging him with just a 12 ft lead so the actual radius of the circle couldn't have been more then 8 ft. He picked up what looked like a little saddle rack (or possibly a fox trot, hard to tell) for a few steps going both directions. I was asking for a fast walk and he would do several steps of this gait and then break into a trot. No pace at all. Woohoo! Then after getting him in his snaffle bit and reviewing some stuff I saddled him and repeated everything. He was so good that I started asking him to step forward by cuing him with a stirrup. That went so well I asked him to go forward and then step over by bumping him with a stirrup and I got a decent leg yield! This was all done on the ground. Finally I put his halter on over the bridle, had Vivian hold the lead and I got on. He remained very quiet the whole time. So I bumped him with my legs, not expecting him to understand to step forward but he did! And when I sat deep in the saddle and lifted the reins, he stopped! Of course he may have been getting some of his cues from Vivian and that's ok but she was trying real hard to just be there in case of trouble and not actually leading him. Then I started asking him to flex and this is where we had a little trouble. His first thought was to pull against my rein. If I asked for a flex to the right, his head immediately went as far to the left as he could swing it. I was totally expecting this given his history. So I just held the rein way out to the side and kept steady pressure until he figured out to give to the pressure and bring his head around the correct way. This took awhile but not as long as when I was teaching it to him in the halter. By the end of the lesson he was flexing correctly in both directions with a very light lifting of the rein. I'm sure we'll have to repeat this part of his training a few more times before I feel comfortable riding him without a handler on the lead rope but for his first ride, I think it went real well. The really good news is Sue has offered to keep him at her place so I can work with him several times a week instead of once every other week. Yea! Once he's fairly far along either I will take him and Lew will ride him or Sue will keep him, or Vivian will take him back. She has another home for him if we don't want him but I suspect if he turns out a good as I think he will Vivian may even want to keep him. So I get to have the experience of training a youngster from the beginning which iswhat I've been wanting to do. I'm really sick of fixing problems in horses that crummy trainers and/or owners have created. This time if he ends up with problems, I'll have no one to blame but myself.....so I am going to do everything I can to prevent problems from developing. Anyway it will be a good learning experience for both of us.

Sat Dec 21 I rode Lex yesterday. It's been quite awhile since I've been on him. I rode him bareback and just in the little holding pen. After I bridled him he followed me all the way across the pen and lined up next to me as I climbed up on the fence to hop on his back. That was nice. Then I tried to ride him sans reins but he wasn't tuned in to me good enough so I picked up the reins and we did a bunch of 180's, backing and leg yields. This time doing the 180's I tried to keep him alternating moving the back and the front so that he circled his way across the pen. It was neat and fun and he seemed to like doing that. Once he got real soft and let me guide him without reins I opened the gate and we rode out onto the driveway. This was interesting because the guys were working on the arena.....LOTS  of noisy machinery! And sparks flying from the welders. We had to approach rather slowly of course. I let him stop when he needed to and just look at the scary stuff. When he would relax I asked him to walk a few steps closer. We got pretty close without him getting at all worried so I got off and led him the rest of the way right up to the buldozer. He totally ignored all the racket, even when I turned him so the craziness was behind him. Pretty nice. Then I took him back to the pasture and let him go. He stood with me even though all the other horses were grazing a good way off and only left after I turned my back to him and wentout of the gate. At that point he took off like a rocket! I've noticed that in the pasture now he usually does a really round run walk and can transition into canter in either lead. And his canter is getting very collected too. I hope that once I start working on that in the arena he'll be able to achieve some degree of that collection. At least he seems to be lifting his back more now.

Dec 27: rode Lex again today. I was reading some stuff written by Leslie Desmond last night. I can't stand that woman as a clinician, her human teaching and communication skills pretty much suck.....but she has a brain just chock full of great horsemanship info. I really wish she was better with people cause I would love to learn what she knows but that'll never happen so I'll read her articles and try to apply the little bit of info she puts in there..... So anyway I wanted to see how well Lex is able to back on a circle. I was bareback again. He did pretty well but I noticed he wasn't totally working off my seat and legs and he wanted to keep his head up somewhat. I'd prefer that he reach down with that head but he didn't and as a result his back wasn't coming up as much as I know it should. Also, I think I need to go back to spiral out on a circle to get him better with stepping under with his inside rear. He has always wanted to cheat on this one so more work is needed there. Other than those two issues he was real good but those are pretty big issues so I will be doing a lot of those exercises as soon as my arena gets built.
Off topic......we had Christmas at our house this year and wow! I LOVE this house! It turns out this house is great for parties. We didn't plan for that but it seems that it is. Everyone had fun, the food worked out a little too good, ha, and even though it was too chilly to be outside for long, people still enjoyed walking around and spending time on the porch. Actually the whole house flows well. People could hang out in the kitchen and family room but also the porch, dining area and craft room so that nobody felt crowded and everybody could mingle and visit. Good party.

They delivered the sheet metal and doors for the tack room and hay room yesterday. We are going to buy the ac unit for the tack room today. I guess just about all the framing is done now, except for the tack room and that should only take a day. I am still holding my breath until they get the roof on the whole thing. Until then the clay in the middle of the arena where there is a low spot, can't dry out. It's a quagmire there. However, building is delayed again, this time though it's not weather related. Our builder's dad is dying of spinal lymphosarcoma and he's in Waco staying with his dad and mom at the hospital. Dad isn't expected to live through the weekend. I feel so bad for him. He is very close to his dad so this is a very hard time for him and his whole family really. Praying for his whole family.

Dec 29: trimmed Roger's and Lex's feet today. I got Rog pretty short and took his heels down a lot on the clubby foot and he walked off sound! Usually when I take that much off his heel on that foot he's sore for a day or so. Maybe, just maybe, I'm making real progress with him. Then I played a little bit with Lex. Thinking he needs much more work stepping under I did some walking turn on the forehand....in hand....both directions. He was stepping under pretty well with his inside rear, better with the left rear of course, but I had to really work to keep him moving forward. If I got out of position at all such that he could stop, he would step sideways with his outside rear. That meant I had to hold the lead way forward and not ask him to bend much at all. And he couldn't keep his head very low either. Also I tried to do some tummy lifts and he didn't raise his back at all. I know several months ago....I will have to check the other journal to see how long ago really.....I had him bending really well and dropping his head a lot more than he could do today and he was doing tummy lifts a lot better too. He must either forget or lose strength in his abs if not worked in this way for awhile. It doesn't seem that he is resistant but rather he just can't do it. So we'll be doing some toning up it seems. I have also changed my approach with him. Rather than pushing him to do the exercise, I'm trying to set him up and let him figure out the easiest way to do it. More a change of attitude and presentation on my part than a change in what I ask him to do. The exercise is the same. So rather than direct his head around to create the bend, I'm telling him to step under with his inside rear as he steps forward. What is supposed to happen is as he gets better with stepping under he will naturally drop his head and bend. It's a theory. I'll do the same thing under saddle by asking for spiral out on a circle and a large walking turn on forehand. Or try anyway.  I need that arena. Sigh. Oh and I also am paying particular attention to timing my  cues. I cue him to step under just as the inside foot leaves the ground.....sometimes I forget to pay attention to that and it makes things a lot harder for him when I get off with my timing. I have trouble with timing my cues while riding also. I need a lot more practice feeling those foot steps so that it becomes second nature. Right now I have to really focus on my timing, making my cues not flow very well. But that will get better. I have finally figured out the timing for backing up and whew! What a difference! When I get it right Lex backs up softly and really picks up his feet. I can't wait to start all this with Amigo as I think he is better built to use his hind end and round up more naturally.

Dec 30 only had a few minutes to work with Lex today but I wanted to go ahead and record his progress. Still in hand, I asked him to step under like I've been doing and today he was able to do several steps really bent through his body, and head nicely down and neck softly bent. But still after a few steps he had to stop. It seemed to happen because his front legs weren't moving and he just got twisted up so that his rear end had no place to go! So I experimented with telling him he could also move his front legs. It started out to be a walking turn on the forehand....or at least that was my intent but Lex had other ideas and was more comfortable doing shoulder fore! Well fine! This was some of the best shoulder fore he's ever done! I stayed away from directing his head. Instead I just kept asking him to step under with that inside rear and at the same time I tried to let him understand he could also move his front feet by clucking at him. It did take awhile for him to understand but once he did it was sweet. Boy I'm beginning to think I've made a major breakthrough in my training theory. If I can continue this type of approach under saddle I will be convinced. I don't want to speak too soon and goodness knows every time I think I've peeled off the last layer of the onion I find another layer, but.....I finally think I'm beginning to understand what it means to ride the rear legs.....maybe! Of course understanding and execution are two different things. I have a feeling Lex is going to need a lot of patience!

New years day. Gosh it was almost warm outside! I worked with Lex a bit again today, in hand to start. He is understanding what I want now and is able to go pretty well to the right which is weird but going to the left he still can't take more than a coule of steps before his legs get tangled up. But in both directions he is at least trying to drop his head and bend more and today I got a decent belly lift.
Then I decided to really start working with Maisey to get her going in a bit since I want to get her more sensitive to my leg so we can pursue her lateral work. I used Lex's bridle. She hated it. I waited for probably an hour for her to quit chewing the bit and she never did so I removed the reins, left the headstall on her and started lunging her in the round pen with no lines attached to her head. As soon as she started moving she stopped chewing! I kept her going and changed direction several times and when she stayed totally quiet in her mouth I re attached the reins and she started chewing again! Grrrrrr! So then I remembered she has always hated heavy reins. Duh. So off with the rope reins and on with the bailing twine. She was happy with that arrangement. Then I started asking for a give to the left by lifting the left rein while standing at her shoulder. She did everything except give to the bit! This went on for awhile but she finally gave a little and got her reward. Many repetitions later and she was giving decently in both directions. Enough for one day. I have to get her a snaffle bit though. Lex's is a little too big and I think she may prefer a french link. And of course some very light reins! Maybe another mane hair mecate. For now twine will work.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 06:18:45 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 05:50:26 am »

Jan 4: Worked with Amigo yesterday. He is such a sweetie. We went through all the previous lessons briefly and he remembered everything, flexed to both sides real softly, stepped over real easy to my cue on his side, accepted being saddled real nicely and wasn't at all cinchy this time, stood quietly at the mounting block. So with Vivian holding the halter rope, I hopped on. He stood quietly, waited for me to ask him to move and then stepped right off when I nudged him......then he fell apart. He didn't DO anything exactly, just got confused and a little nervous. So I asked him to stop and he had no clue....but he finally did stop because I held the reins until he did, waited for a vertical give, then released and let him stand. I expected to have trouble getting him to move forward but it seems he's ok with that but doesn't understand halt! So we practiced going a few steps forward and then halting. He kept trying to turn in to face Vivian. I tried to straighten him out but he just got confused again and over flexed to each side.....couldn't seem to find the middle. We worked on that for a bit until he got his neck straight and then I asked him to step forward again. He finally seemed to grasp the basic concept, took 5 or 6 steps and I halted him before he could get confused or worried. Petted and got off. Good lesson. I told Vivian we really need to put him in a round pen soon so I can let him move forward and he can go wherever he wants in that pen without me having to micromanage his direction. At this point in his training he needs to learn he can walk with me on his back and not fall down. He needs to learn to change direction without me messing with his mouth because right now he is experimenting with ballancing my weight. Once he is comfortable moving around with me up there and is confident he can keep his ballance, then we can go back to teaching direction. So I'm hoping to get back over there in a week or so. Also, Sue has offered to keep one of my horses at her house so that will free up a slot in my pasture for Amigo. It will be good when I can work with him more frequently, although he does seem to be remembering his lessons and the week to two week long breaks between lessons doesn't seem to be a problem for him. Oh yeah, during this lesson I experimented with asking him to back and he did it real softly one step at a time, in time with alternating reins. I just asked with the reins, no leg at this point.

Jan4: I rode Roger in the forest! We did trails! We rode for 3 hours! He was great! I rode him in the sidepull and Lex's saddle which seemed to fit him great. In the past when I've tightened the girth on him he has had issues.....acting cinchy and sometimes even acting like he wanted to lay down....kinda freaky. Today he was totally fine when I tightened the cinch. When we first started out he was a little nervous and looking around a lot but he was not scared and his brain stayed between his ears. Once he got over his nerves he wanted to walk real fast. I let him because he was relaxed and sensible but I made him stop every once in awhile to let Fran catch up and to teach Roger that when I say stop he has to stop and not move around. This took some practice because he really had trouble standing still. But by the end of the ride he was much much better and I was able to ride him on a loose rein while headed home! What a change from the run away freaked out panicked animal he used to be. And he only locked his stifle twice.....so much better than every 3 steps like he did when I first got him. He is pretty ungainly, always has been, and tends to not watch his feet very well. Today I let him slop over the logs and trail trash until he finally went over a small log, misjudged the height and ended up with his feet all tangled up on the log. He couldn't go forward and couldn't back up and he nearly fell down. So I let him stand like that for a minute or so while he figured out how to regain his balance, then I asked him to go on over the log and he did. After that he was a lot more careful going over logs! He even jumped one! He can jump like a deer but I've never ridden him over a jump due to his sore back and stifle and clumsiness issues. Today he offered to jump and I went with it and it was FUN! At the end of the ride I checked his back and there was no soreness at all. Woo hoo! I may have finally gotten him physically and mentally healthy enough to ride. Yea! At least short occasional rides.
Some more work with Maisey and the bit. Still using Lex's while waiting on a new bit for Maisey. This time she hardly chewed at all when I put the bridle on and wow was she soft with her flexes. Standing at her shoulder I can just lift either rein (still using bailing twine) and she will softly flex to the side. I haven't worked on vertical flexes yet but I don't expect a whole lot of difficulty with that as she naturally wants to drop her head. The trick will be getting her to break at the poll and raise the base of her neck......this will take time. Then asking for the back up while standing at her shoulder, I can hold the reins with one hand and slightly rock my hand to lift each side independently and she will step back with the corresponding front leg. Gosh! I can remember when she had no clue about backing and I had to jump up and down and holler and wave my arms just to get her attention enough to maybe think about shifting her weight backward. Still doing all this from the ground but I plan to hop on her during the next lesson, as soon as it warms up to temps compatable with life.....that would be somewhere in the 50's for us old farts.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2014, 07:59:35 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 06:27:22 pm »

Gosh what a fun week.....not! Lew was going to DC for a meeting but his flight from Dallas to DC got canceled so I spent the whole day Tuesday taking him to the airport in the am and then going back again in the pm. In between trips to the airport I finally hit critical mass with my patience regarding the lack of progress with my arena and had a melt down. Yes I did yell, well not exactly but it was clear to anybody with a brain cell I was mad. Rain has been forcast to start Wed afternoon. We have known that for at least a week. The guys were supposed to work last Sat (a beautiful day) but no body showed up. Then Monday it was cold. So tuesday they show up and want to start putting up the walls on the tack room. That should be no problem but they also wanted to install the insulation. Walls first, then roof. Rain due in less than 24 hours. There was no way they could get the whole thing done in time especially since they also needed to crown and compact the arena before the rain or we'd be ANOTHER 3 or 4 weeks waiting for the damn thing to dry out before they could put the roof on. Can you see where this is going. And I am paying for 2 man lifts, a bulldozer and a compactor and a crane that have been just sitting in mud for weeks. ARRRRRGGGGGG!!!!!!!!
So I lit a fire under them figuratively speaking of course. They got 2 walls up on the tack room and then covered it with a tarp. They got 3/4 of the arena crowned and all of it compacted. Since yesterday we've gotten over 2 inches of rain. The arena is draining pretty well where it was crowned but has 2 lakes on the part that didn't get done. Sigh. And the tarp over the partly built tack room was so full of water this afternoon we had to cut holes in it to let the water drain out before the whole thing burst. So we spent the whole afternoon digging drain channels in the pad and catching roof water dripping from the tarp into buckets. I bet I filled and emptied a couple hundred gallons of rain water! We finally got smart and moved a couple of big water troughs under the holes in the tarp. When they fill up we'll just siphon the water out. It's times like these I wonder why I ever wanted to move to an area in Texas that gets rain. Be careful what you wish for.
And then our builder's dad who has been battling cancer since last Sept passed away on Wed. I feel so bad for Chad and I also feel bad because he was here dealing with my meltdown and arena headaches instead of being with his dad. He should have been there.  At this point I am ready to scrap the whole project. Really I have had it.  Normally when something is as difficult as this project has been I begin to think the universe is trying to tell me something and I tend to back off. However I experienced similar construction holdups and problems when I built the clinic years ago and that turned out ok in the end so I'm trying to stay somewhat positive about this project. It will be ok. Actually if it turns out the way I want it too it will be fabulous. I just gotta not give up. I did spend some time today, in between dumping buckets of water, to re watch some Buck Brannaman dvds. I can't wait to get started working on some of those exercises with my guys. Actually it's been quite awhile since I've watched those dvds and today I think I got more out of them than I've done before. I can see where I missed some important stuff with Lex, the part about upward and downward transitions with a soft feel. Not sure we have that as good as it should be. 

A quick little mini lesson with Maisey today. Lex's bridle with twine for reins.....not a speck of chewing or head tossing, none, nada, even when I asked for the back up. So I put some real reins on the bit, little all leather ones, very light and with leather attachments to the bit. Still no chewing. With these reins she seemed a little more quick to respond to my cues but not at all bothered. So I hopped on her bareback and asked for flexes to either side by just lifting the corresponding rein...left for left side etc. The rein is lifted up and directed slightly forward. There is no backward direction to it. She came around to the feel, it was super! So then I asked for a back up and she did it again on feel. The rein is lifted up and directed back but no pressure is on it, just the weight of the rein. I squeeze my fingers to direct each front leg to step back and release as that leg is picked up. Sweet! Then I asked for turn on forehand by cuing with my inside leg and directing the inside rein forward and out. Got it. Finally I asked for that "soft feel" or vertical flex. I do this by lifting both reins slightly with my hands spread slightly apart, farther for green horses, and alternating squeezing my fingers on each hand. Got good consistant gives each time. Called it a day. Good lesson! Total time 15 minutes.

Sat Jan 11: another mini lesson on Maisey. This time I just bridled her and hopped on....bareback in the holding pen. Her flexes were light and soft and so we worked on vertical flexes which she would do easily when I lift both reins. SometimesI might have to spread my hands apart a little but that's all it took. Because she naturally wants to travel with a low head set and is heavy on the forehand, I'm using the lifting of the reins cue to get those flexes. I want her to flex at the poll but not drop her neck. Today I thought I could feel her raise the base of her neck at a standstill so I may be making progress. She could do it standing still and she is starting to be able to do it while walking but not as well and I've yet to feel the base of her neck come up at a walk (except of course when she wants to keep going and I want her to stop out on the trail). But once she starts bringing that base up at a walk I'll start working on keeping it up during stop/walk and walk/stop transitions. She was a very good girl today. I think we are on our way with the bridle.

Sunday 12th: Took Maisey out on the trails today. I rode her in the bosal because I don't think she's quite ready to do trails in a bit. If she should misbehave and or need some kind of correction, or even support, say in a spook, I wouldn't want to do that yet in a bit and take a chance on scaring her or hurting her when she's just now starting to get some confidence in that thing. So we went out and she was sooooo unmotivated! Ugh! Just getting her to walk was like pulling teeth. Then at the first big log....refusal. Would not go not no way not no how! She was not afraid, just didn't wanna do it. So I got off and did some ground school over it several times. She could cross easily enough when it was in the "headed home" direction but going the other way she just couldn't get her stubby little legs over that big ole thing! Wahhhh! So I worked her in hand over it both directions for awhile then hopped on and away we went. Until we got to the next big log. Again refusal. So after several minutes of trying I got off again and worked her in hand. This time I had to get a bit more insistant but she finally went over a couple of times. Then I got on and rode her over. I did have to carry a whip (small green stick) and it took her several attempts before she finally committed to going over. I needed that whip for about half of the ride just to motivate her. This is the first time in a long time that she has been such a slug. Not sure why, maybe because I have recently had some lessons with her in the round pen when she wasn't expected to move out at all. Anyway by the end of the ride she was fully participating and we did have a good ride. I can see though that she continues to be pretty dull in her sides so that will be my next priority after we get the bit thing taught. As to why she is refusing to go overthe big logs....not sure why. Used to be she would go over anything. But I think she has scraped her legs a couple of times going over the big ones andnow she anticipates discomfort. So I may also teach her how to jump. Then when we get to the big logs she can hop over them and not strike her legs. Its a theory.

Wed 15th: got the new bit for Maisey today. It's a D ring french link snaffle 4 5/8" but the mouth piece seems a little thick to me. Maisey didn't mind and took to it just fine. The only thing is she didn't seem as responsive in this bit but that may just be a function of learning a slightly different feel. I'll hop on her tomorrow and see how she goes in it after we kind of go through the cues on the ground again first.
I don't want to speak too soon but they may get the roof on the arena by the end of the week. They have finished 1/3 of the roof. Today they also finished the tack and feed rooms. The remaining 2/3 rds will take 4 days with luck. Chad plans to work through the weekend as he is as anxious to finish as I am. He fired the 2 deadbeat employees that were holding things up and hired a new crew and those guys are workers! Gosh! They put in a full day and hardly even stop for lunch. Boy will it be a relief to have that part done! It will take another 2 weeks for the pad to dry (or longer) and then another at least 2 weeks to finish the arena and lightning and all the little details. Woohoo!

Thurs: Rode Maisey in the new bit today and she did just fine. I had to spend a little time on the ground teaching her to drop her head to upward rein direction on the right side but she finally got it. Left side was ok. Then riding her, she was fine and just as soft as she was in Lex's bit so I think she just had to get used to the slightly different feel.
I forgot to mention that yesterday I did work her over a small jump....ground work, not riding. It took a few tries before she got consistant but she finally decided she could do it. Jumping will not be her forte!

Fri 17th: Rode Roger again today. Not quite the same horse as the last time. Today he was reeeaaalllllyyy spooky headed out. So much that I had to get Fran to ride out ahead just to get him to walk down the trail. Once we got far enough from home that he couldn't hear the other horses he quit with the spooky do. Then he kept wanting to head home so every time the trail took a turn back in that direction he would speed up. He never elected to go faster than a walk but wow can that bad boy walk fast! And I'm talking dog walk, not run walk! I let him go as long as he didn't try to move up to gait and as long as when I ask for a halt he would slam on the brakes. Then he also had to back up softly and stand quietly until Fran could catch up. Frankly, that big walk can be a little intimidating. But trying to make him walk shorter just makes him upset. So we walked real big on a loose rein and halted frequently for Fran. Roger is one of those loosey goosey type horse. He feels like he could fall down or trip over his feet any time. That may also account for my feeling of insecurity when he walks out so fast. But today I noticed that no matter how long his stride was, he never failed to watch where his feet went. He never tripped over any logs and I didn't help him either with this. I just let him go along. He'd come to a bunch of logs, big or little it didn't matter....and without shortening his stride at all he pick his feet way up and over he'd go.....wouldn't even tick the logs. Weird. I also considered his back may be sore from the last ride which may make him want to go faster but I checked him when we got home and he seemed fine. So who knows, I will still be riding him just not very frequently so as to save his back. Time will tell if he can hold up.
The arena has 2/3 of the roof on! Yahoo! They will finish tomorrow. Then Monday they will put on the ridge vent and trim and we should be mostly good to go if it rains next week. There is a little bit of work that needs to be done with the drainage but the pad is still too wet to do that yet....maybe Monday. It's not supposed to rain until the end of next week so hopefully we'll have time. Now we get to start the fun stuff....arena rails and stalls. I can hardly wait!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 06:42:46 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2014, 07:31:51 pm »

Been debating whether to put this in here or not but maybe I will and maybe it'll save someone else from an accident. A little background. I'm an oldish fart. I've had horses for 65 years and consider myself a fair horsewoman. While I am a stickler for safety around horses for other people, I've been a little lax concerning my own safety when it comes to helmets. Stupid, I know. It's just I know how careful I am and I always figured I could head off trouble. Also my horses are very very well trained and all but one of them would give themselves a hernia to keep from stepping on me.....if they saw me. That one horse is just clutsy and not real bright. He's better than he used to be but I still don't trust him. Anyway I have 6 horses and 2 of them are blind on their left side. All of them are loose together in a 12 acre pasture. The other day I was putting out hay and somehow one horse lunged at another and that horse spun around and flattened me. I got a concussion and cracked tail bone out of the deal. While I have no memory of exactly what happened I have been able to piece together what likely happened. I believe it's only because my guys are so well trained not to step on me and to stay out of my space that I didn't get trampled. Not a bruise on me. So now I am convinced....no more excuses. I will wear a helmet at all times while working with my horses. Not just when riding but also when handling  them on the ground. And especially the 2 blind horses. If it could happen to me it can happen to anybody. Just saying.
On a lighter note.....finally got the roof on the arena. Really they finished it just 15 minutes before the rain came last Thursday. So we got to see where we have drainage issues and can now address those. The good news is those spots where the rain either blew in or splashed in dried pretty well in just a couple of days. The west side is the only part that the arena comes right up to the drip line and that long side did get pretty wet. I think if we slope the pad outside the arena a bit more, maybe lower it another couple of inches from the grade inside the arena and then put up some canvas on the railing to prevent splashing we'll have the problem fixed. They are supposed to start putting in the electrical tomorrow. I didn't think I would need lights in the arena part cause I seldom ride after dark but Lew insisted and now I know he was right. We have thick woods on 3 sides of the arena so even in the middle of the day it's not as bright in there as it would be if there was open ground surrounding it. Should be ideal for filming and picture taking though. And it's going to be nice and cool in there this summer because it seems to always have a breeze. Not such a great thing right now when it's cold but I'll be appreciating it this summer.
I rode with another new friend today. I am meeting so many great horsewomen in this area. I love it! Now I have a group I ride with every Tuesday. Another group I'll start riding with on Sundays I hope soon, and now this group that also rides on weekends. Hoowee! I knew we were moving to horse country but this is ridiculous! Literally everybody here owns horses, or rides horses, or wants to ride, or likes horses. Except, some few city folks from Houston. It's crazy, in a good way.
Today while we were riding in the forest, the horses were real relaxed and we were just plodding along when all of a sudden there was this huge loud explosion. It sounded like some large caliper rifle at first and my immediate reaction was to get concerned that someone was hunting and it's not hunting season. But that sound was quickly followed by a tearing crunching sound and then a loud thud. It was a tree falling. Must have been a huge tree and it fell over by the perimeter trail close to where we had been riding a few minutes before. The strange thing was Dodah hardly reacted! He's always been real reactive to the sound of falling limbs and will bolt first and ask questions later. Today he didn't even do a little spook. Nothing. My friends horse got real worried and took quite awhile to settle back down but Doobie was totally unconcerned. Strange. Maybe he heard me today when I told him he had to take care of me because my butt is still very sore! Or maybe he's trying to make up for knocking me down the other day even though I don't remember who the guilty equine was. I love that horse!

I rode Maisey this weekend, my friend Sue rode Dodah. We were in the forest and I was in the lead. We were plodding along catching up on the latest gossip and all of a sudden miss Maisey did her squat spook. She goes straight down with her legs all splayed out. What a goofy girl, that manuever will sure get her killed if the scary thing turns out to be a cougar! Ha! But it's an easy spook to ride through. Sue didn't have it quite so easy as Dodah did his spin fart bolt. He only bolted a step or two before he figured out it was a false alarm.....well not totally false, there were several deer that  jumped up and took off through the underbrush, no cougars though. So Dodah stopped by himself, Maisey got back up on her little legs and all was well except I discovered my sore rear end was now really sore. Ouch. I almost had to cut the ride short, but I didn't. I did warn Maisey that if she pulled that stunt again we would have "words". Ha! Finished the ride and saw some more deer but the horses didn't spook again, got home and managed to slide off onto the trailer, put up the horses and hobble into the house. The next morning, voila! Totally healed butt! Seriously no pain! First time in two weeks I've been able to step up onto the porch without hurting. Maisey must have realigned something. Just another example of the healing power of the horse.....HAHA.....when they're not hurting ya, they're healing ya. Amazing critters.

I have decided I need to get a handle on this food aggression thing and all the pushing that goes along with it. At our old house I was able to separate the horses into manageable groups so not a problem THERE but here at the new place, HUGE problem. So, I started carrying a whip when we put out hay. That helps. Now they still fight but do it away from us and actually I think the fighting is getting less. Yesterday I decided to go a step farther and get them even more respectful during feeding time. I have 2 stalls, a round pen-ish area and the pasture. So Dodah and Maisey go in the stalls, Roger and Red in the round pen, and Lex and Blue duke it out in the pasture. Dodah is perfect so not much needed with him other than to ask him to step back while I pour out his food. Very polite horse. Maisey is pushy so I make her back to the other side of the stall and face me. She has to get quiet and quit tossing her head and stand still before I let her up to her food. She's not perfect yet but getting better each day. Today she went to the other side of the stall by herself but then kept walking toward me and I had to tell her to back up several times before she was still. Roger has gotted very aggressive toward Red who is partly blind and at the bottom of the pecking order. Actually Roger used to be at the bottom but he seems to have moved up a notch. So in the round pen I make them both stand back while I put out Red's food. Gotta use a whip for this because while Red is very sensitive, Roger is not and takes a lot of stimulus to get a response. Then I let Red eat but make Roger stand away from me while I put his feed in his bucket. Then he has to stay there and say "yes, oh supreme person, center of my universe" before I let him eat. Today he stood in his spot by himself and after a few unauthorized steps toward me, he got pretty still. Not perfect yet but better. He hasn't quite got the "oh supreme person center.....etc etc" part yet but we're still working on it. Blue and Lex are fed in the pasture outside of the round pen. They fight the worse of all the guys. Blue has always been very food aggressive and Lex is trying to take over as head horse, so lots of kicking and running. I haven't gotten around to teaching them the new rules yet but once I get the other four under control, I'll start on them. What I have noticed is that since I've been armed with the whip Lex is a lot less interested in chasing all the other horses as they line up to go into their respective feeding slots. And Blue pretty much doesn't care what everybody else does as long as they stay away from his feed bucket.

Feb 5: A short note on how the table manners are coming along. Today I didn't even have to ask Maisey to back up and Roger tried to walk up on me but he backed up on my verbal command and stood there. Also while Rog and Red were alone in the round pen, I had just left to get food, Rog tried to bully Red and Red actually kicked back and stood up for himself! Yea! It's about time!

Feb6: Today I finally got the "yes oh supreme leader" from Roger! Didn't even have to tell him to back up either. He did try to sneak around behind my back but stopped that when I caught him thinking about it. Maisey is also standing in her corner of the stall without me telling her to but she is still pawing a lot. It was so cold today I didn't want to stand out there and wait for her to quit so I fed her but once it gets warmer I'll insist she stop pawing. I'm really pleased how quickly the guys have figured out the new rules and how much those rules have reduced the fighting and downright dangerous behavior during feeding time. Yahoo!
« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 10:30:35 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2014, 11:48:52 am »

Table manner lessons are still going well. Today miss Maisey decided she was not going to stand at the other side of the stall, she wanted her food NOW! So she got to stand over there until she faced me and stopped pawing and shaking her head. Boy did that make her mad! But she finally did it and got fed. Little toot.
My old horse Blue has been retired for about 5 years as he developed ring bone in his left rear leg and went lame. He was nearly 3 legged lame for a good long time, he'd lay down in the pasture and then couldn't get up by himself and I'd have to halter him and sort of help him get up. I had him on a gram per day of bute for about 2 years. A year or so ago I decided he was doing pretty well and discontinued the bute. This past Sept we moved to the new place and right away I noticed him cantering in the pasture. Lately he's been trotting sound and actually running around chasing Lex. Today I saw him rear up and walk on his rear legs while fighting with Maisey. So now I'm thinking he may be sound enough to ride again. At his age I would only do short arena rides to start and if that goes well, we'd try short easy and slow trails. I loved riding this horse so am hopeful this will work out but will certainly take it slow and easy.

Feb 10: Got to do a short trail ride on Maisey yesterday. She started the ride fairly spooky. She didn't ever find a reason to do a full blown squat spook but she kept startling which I tried to correct if I could catch her before she got all the way to full startle. She did finally settle down and then wanted to walk out pretty fast. This is a horse that has been shut down since I got her several years ago. I would describe her as dull and shut down when I got her. I attributed most of that to her being so very green and just having no clue what the human wanted. I figured the more she got educated the less dull and shut down she would become and that is what seems to be happening. However yesterday she crossed the line from "forward" to rushy. She started pulling on me when she thought we were headed home. Stopping used to be her favorite gait! Yesterday when I asked for a stop I got a pause, then a head shake, then a sideways crab and then if I kept insisting, she would try to rear! Brat! So we did a lot of stopping. I could get her to stand still as long as we faced away from home but as soon as we turned toward home she wanted to speed up. Sigh. I have been here before....Lex, Roger, Blue, ..... So we practiced stopping and facing away from home until she would do that willingly. Then I tried to stop her but keep her facing home. Rear. Twice. So I circled her. Back up, rear. I circled her some more. Head shake and thought about rearing but decided not to, maybe because I threatened to shove her face up her butt. I was getting mad and she was already mad so I figured this was not going to end well unless I changed something. So I let her continue on down the trail toward home and as soon as she started wanting to rush I guided her into the brush. Boy she hated that! I made her walk around trees and shrubs, through heavy underbrush and brambles until she settled, then we headed toward home again. She would go about 50 feet and then start rushing again so back around more trees. We did this for about an hour until she would not only settle down but she also had to walk around the trees with a good attitude! Ha! Then we continued on home and she did ok but still wanted to go faster than I wanted her to go but she did at least listen to me. Before we got all the way home I got off, did some ground work, got back on and rode almost back to the arena but she couldn't manage the last little bit without getting goofy. So I got off again, more ground work, took her to the trailer and left her tied up there for an hour with the saddle on. I didn't unsaddle her and put her up until she quit pawing and being generally pissy.
So here's my theory. I THINK she's finally gotten over being shut down and now is sort of testing the boundries. I've known other horses that seem dull and unresponsive but when they finally figure out they can move, they can be explosive. I don't think she'll go that route but I do know she's opinionated and can get mad quickly when she doesn't get her way. Spoiled. I hope this will be fixed without years of struggle. She went through a phase a few months ago when she refused to go down a gully that she has crossed a dozen times. I stuck with it until she figured out I wasn't going to let her get away with that, we crossed the gully and she's never done that again. More recently she started refusing to walk over logs. Again I worked with her, convinced her I would not take no for an answer and she now crosses logs with no problem. So I think she is just testing me, testing the limits. I guess time will tell. I see us circling a lot of trees in the future! Also, I am still riding her on the trail in her bosal. She is doing well with the bit in the round pen but something told me she isn't ready to go on the trail in that thing and I am sure glad I had the bosal on her when we had our latest blow up. I could correct her, and did rather harshly a few times, without worring about hurting her mouth or making her afraid of the bit so that was good. I am also considering the possibility that having recently changed her food may be part of the problem. I switched her from regular safechoice to senior. I will put her back on the regular and see if that makes any difference. I figure it's a long shot but I don't want to overlook any thing that may be affecting her behavior other than just holes in her training. Time will tell.

Feb 13: Hoo Wee! I got to ride Amigo again today. It's been at least 5 weeks since the last time I got to work with him and he has not had so much as a halter on since then. So today I caught him, saddled him with no preliminary ground work and took him into the round pen. He was calm the whole time and didn't even bother about the cinch this time. Then I free lunged him for about 10 minutes to see what he'd do cold with a saddle on. No biggie. He trotted out real well, nice attitude, no gait this time. He was paying attention to me but had no clue how to read my body language so I spent some time getting him to figure out how to come to me. Then I bridle him, again, no problem. Then I tried flexing him to see how much he remembered and if he was soft. WOW!!!!! He remembered alright! All I had to do was lift the rein and that head came right around. He was tilting it pretty much though so we will need to work on that but I was sure pleased with how soft he was. So then I hopped on. I had Vivian still holding the lead rope but all she was to do was stand there and let me ride him around her. Today I had almost no trouble getting him to stay out at the end of the rope. He had a little trouble going straight forward though but that's to be expected and I didn't worry too much about correcting him. Mostly I wanted him to take steps when I asked him to move, and stop when I asked him to stop. The stopping is still not good. He wants to pull against the bit when I ask for halt. I am being careful to only ask with alternating reins in time with his front feet but he still isn't putting it all together yet. But he will. He is so sweet and tries so hard. He also gets upset and scared when hedoesn't understand what to do so I am going very slowly with him. I will not ride without Viv holding the lead until Amigo understands halt and is comfortable with that. Then and only then will I let him go without a lead rope. At that point I will want him to walk out freely with not much input from me so that he can learn how to balance with me in the saddle....but I also want "halt" to be a place of comfort for him so that if he gets scared walking out I can ask for halt and he will feel safe. I could also do this by having Viv free lunge him with me on his back but unfortunately, he doesn't know enough about that to be safe. So we'll do things this way and leave the cowboy-ing to the cowboys! So, I am really pleased with Amigo's progress. Considering how long he's gone between lessons I am amazed how much he remembers and how hard he tries.
Gonna ride Maisey again tomorrow. Anxious to see how she does since our come to Jesus meeting the other day.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2014, 06:15:25 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2014, 04:06:44 pm »

Ah.....rode Maisey today. What happened to the little bi#%h from he// that I rode the other day? Today she was sweet, did everything I asked and no rushing! Wow. So here's what I changed.....her food. Been feeding everyone the senior diet which I realized is just chock full of soy. So I changed her back to the original safechoice with almost no soy. I did that right after the ride from hell. Then today my friend Sue was riding Dodah. Don't know if his presence made the difference or not but he does have a calming effect on many horses and I use him a lot when riding with insecure or difficult horses. So, it may be the food change, may be having Dodah along, and may be she learned I won't put up with goofiness. Whatever, she was a doll today. She even jumped over a couple of the really huge logs today after asking politely if it was ok to do so. What a sweetie!! We walked home on a loose rein, she stopped when I told her to....did a little head shake but nothing much and then stood still, and still moved out in a nice forward walk. Very relaxed. Good times.
I read an article recently about training intervals. Been feeling a little guilty about going so long between lessons with Amigo even though it's been impossible for me to get over there any more frequently. Anyway this article said basically if you do short lessons, 15 to 30 minutes, no more frequently than once a week the horses learn with fewer lessons!!!
I have always felt this to be true and have always kept my lessons with very green horses short and given them at least a day or two between lessons....but a week? I know people that believe you have to train every day or they lose their training. Well, Amigo certainly didn't lose anything during the 5 weeks he was left alone! If anything he was better in that he seemed to have progressed beyond what I had done with him during his previous lesson, if that makes sense. So I guess we'll just continue on the way we've been going until I can get him moved out to my place.

Going to try to ride Lex tomorrow but it will depend on how much energy I have and how goofy he is when I catch him. He hasn't been ridden in 3 months so he might be a handfull! Crash helmet!

Feb 16: Well I cowgirled up and rode Lex today. We had 4 riders and Dodah was one of the horses. Lex was really calm when I caught him and also when we got to the trail head. Even the alpacas that live in the pasture right beside where we park the trailers didn't upset him. The ride went pretty well. I put him in line right behind Dodah to help keep him calm and I think that did help him at first. About half way through the ride, going through a gully he got real rushy and lost his mind and I had to one rein him and had him circle for a bit until he could stop. But he settled right down after that and was good the rest of the ride. The only thing I didn't like was he was not very soft at all and I had to give the bit some hard tugs at first before he would come down and he was trying to rush too much through the gullys and up the far side. I kept working on that, asking him to soften and drop his head and stop and set up and he finally started to soften up. I also did some backing up while walking down some hills and every time he tried to rush through a gully, we halted and backed. Then as we were walking back to the trailers, on a loose rein, I noticed the headstall seemed snug. Duh! It was adjusted one notch too tight on both sides! Oh yikes! Poor guy! He's used to that bit hanging in his mouth so he can pick it up and carry it himself. Today it was in constant contact with the corner on his mouth. Not really cranked so tight as to be painful but still tighter than he's used to. That could explain why he was not very soft to begin with. So I fixed that but since we were nearly back to the trailers I didn't get a chance to tell if it made a difference. Anyway he was better than I expected him to be and we had a good ride. I sure would like to get him out there by himself and do some gaiting and canter so he can learn to handle that in a group. Maybe this summer when it's hot.
Dodah did a funny thing. Sometime along the trail today he grabbed a bit of some bush and got a woody stem. The stem got lodged in his mouth and he couldn't chew it well enough to be able to swallow it and he couldn't spit it out! We noticed it when we stopped to rest and visit and he kept chewing and flipping his bit. I finally had to reach into his mouth and grab the thing up between his molars and pull it out. That horse was so good he held his mouth open for me to stick my hand up in there and stood so still while I extracted the offending twig. Lex was good too because he stood stock still while I was digging around in Dodah's mouth. What good boys!

Tues 18th: rode Dodah with the riding group today. I just love that horse! I rode him in the bosal and he was pretty darn soft. We had to practice a little by the trailers before we rode out but after that little refresher course he was really good. Only once, when setting him up to cross a gully, did he not want to stop and give to me softly. I had to hold the reins pretty firm until he got convinced I really meant for him to not follow the horse in front and to SOFTEN!!!!! After that he was fine and I noticed this time he was gaiting the best ever in that bosal......real nice with head down and very relaxed. I can tell he's so much more comfortable in that thing than in a bit so I'm hoping to get him responsive enough in it that anybody can ride him in it. I think we're darn close.
Supposed to be finishing the electric in the tack room today.....supposed to....I'll believe it when I see it. He better hurry up though cause I'm moving my stuff in tomorrow and if he's not done, he'll just have to work around all my junk. I am so sick of excuses why they can't finish stuff.

Friday: Tack room is finished electricity is on! All my stuff is moved in, hung on the wall, stashed in drawers and boxes and I even threw some stuff away! I knew I had a lot of stuff but this is crazy. At least now I can see what I have so when the urge to go shopping hits I won't be duplicating what I already have. The down side of that is now I know what I need so I have to go shopping. Ha! Is this a win, win or a lose, lose? Not sure! I did find Blue's old bit and headstall. The headstall is toast but the bit is ok. So once I find a headstall for him and the arena gets finished, I'll try riding him and see what happens. Yesterday I noticed he was a little stiff when he was chasing Lex so he may not be able to carry a rider. Worth a try though.
Chad is supposed to start on the arena Monday. I figure it'll take him a couple of weeks to get all the rails up and the footing down. Hoowee!

Rode Maisey on the Tuesday ride this week. Sue rode Dodah. For some reason both horses had the boogie oggies and wanted to walk out fast! This is the first time the Tuesday ride bunch has experienced the walking horse boogie. We weren't even gaiting! Just walking reeeaaallll fast. Those trotters had to keep trotting to catch up and finally one of the riders asked us to slow down. We tried, we really did, but the horses just wanted to walk out and holding them down just irritated them. So we walked on ahead until we turned to go back to the trailers, about 9 miles into the ride when Dodah finally decided he could walk like a quarter horse. I do not know what got into those two, usually they are plenty happy to mosey along with the trotters. They were not in anyway rushy and behaved themselves the whole time. Irritation showed up in the form of bit chewing for Dodah and head shaking for Maisey.
Dentals for everybody tomorrow. I know they need their teeth done, especially the old guys. Red especially has lost a lot of weight this winter. Having to be out in the bad weather 24/7 hasn't helped I'm sure. Can't wait till the barn is finished so those oldies can get out of the rain and sleet if they want. It'll be a cool place to hang out this summer too, to get away from the flies.

Update on dentals. I'm a bad horsey mommy. It's been 3? years since Maisey had her teeth done and much much longer for the rest of the gang. I don't think Red and Blue have ever been done. So I expected major teeth problems, especially with the old guys. Surprise! Dr. Marla said they hardly needed anything. It was a toss up whether to risk sedation or just let them go because their teeth were in such good shape. I had them done anyway, we just used less sedation and they were fine. We took some sharp edges off, took literally 5 minutes! So there is some other reason for Red to be losing weight. Maybe once the barn is finished and I can feed him in a stall he'll be able to gait some weight back. Dodah did need to have some points removed. His teeth were the worse, not surprising since he is slightly parrot mouthed. He was so good he hardly needed any sedation....1cc of rompun and a whif of torb. Maisey, Lex and Roger didn't need any dental work at all. Glad I finally got that little chore done and I feel better knowing their teeth were in such good shape.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2014, 05:49:09 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 07:50:53 pm »

Another ride on Roger today and he still has his issues with rushing. Sigh. Today he was a little goofy walking out, kept wanting to stop and/or turn back but I was able to keep him on track without needing to put another horse in front. So we rocked along slow walking and looking at every little twig until we turned back toward the house. Whew! He put it in high gear. I was riding him with his sidepull so the only thing I could do was one rein him to stop. We ended up doing a lovely shoulder fore for about a quarter mile down the road until he could relax and walk straight. He was still walking pretty fastbut I was at least able to have a loose rein and he didn't speed up. So at that point I started asking him to stop and stand. Could not do it without turning around to face away from home. Ok. At one point he even tried a half hearted buck. Nothing serious and not repeated. I kept practicing stopping and standing and then letting him walk out on a loose rein once he was relaxed until he could halt without having to turn around, stand still while Fran caught up with us, or halt and back a few steps softly with almost a loose rein. Never quite got that but he was so much better by the end of the ride. At one point on the trail I was able to circle trees and brush every time he felt the need to rush. This was very effective in getting him to settle down. Unfortunately there are not very many of those kinds of places on our trails right now due to all the rain. You get off the trail and you're likely to sink in mud up to your knees. Roger discovered that today too! But in this one area the ground is pretty solid and so we circled. He got his brain back right quick when we did those circles. As far as his feet and back.....he did trip more today....back legs only and only when he was pulling on me and so tense. When he relaxed the tripping stopped. I checked his back when we got home and there was not a hint of soreness so I guess I at least have that part fixed. Lex's saddle seems to be the one and it doesn't even slip back like every other saddle I've ever tried on him. Yea. He could end up being a decent trail horse but it's going to take a lot of work. I plan to ride him alone a lot to get him more confident. Then when he wants to rush I can turn him away from home and go until he relaxes, then turn back, and do that as many thousand times as it takes. Or I can circle trees for hours. My goal is to be able to ride him with one other horse and put that horse in front and have him not think he has to speed up. I'd like to get that done by the end of summer but it will take as long as it takes and I've learned not to put time constraints on them.....seldom works. Actually setting goals seldom works either so this goal is subject to change! Finally he was a bit tender on the rocks on the road today when we started out but by the end of the ride he didn't seem so tender. I changed him back to regular safe choice this week and the grass is just beginning to come in so that may have something to do with the sore feet. We'll see.

Next day: ouch! My shoulders are sore! All that pulling fron Roger yesterday....ugh. We gotta fix that.
A word about table manners. I'm becoming such a fan of a good long buggy whip! Seriously. When I first decided to do something about feeding time I used the whip to keep them away from me while I put out their food. Roger and Maisey were the pushiest so I made them stay several feet away from me and look away before I would allow them to eat. This helped but then Roger started being much more aggressive toward Red (they are fed in the same pen), and Maisey continued to have a snarky attitude and even started trying to turn her butt toward me (she is fed in a stall). So a few days ago I started carrying the buggy whip into the stall when I fed Maisey. I told her to stand in one specific corner with her butt in the corner and her face toward me. No pawing and no head shaking allowed. Two days of that and today she put herself in that corner and stood quietly and very sweetly while I put her feed down and she waited until I told her she could eat. And all I had to do is carry the whip and point to which body part I wanted her to move. Very easy. So yesterday I decided to fix Roger's aggression toward Red. At first I tried smacking him when he would run at Red. I tried that for a couple of days and got nowhere plus I was scaring Red. So yesterday I tried a new tact. I decided to put Roger into one specific corner where he has to stand quietly while I put his food down. That took awhile getting him to get in that corner (it's a fairly large pen) but I finally made my point and he did it. Once he stood respectfully I let him eat. Today he went right into his corner. He thought about chasing Red but I pointed the whip at him and he quit and went to the corner. Amazing! So now I carry the whip every time I go into the pasture when I know they are expecting food. All I have to do is point to somebody, like Lex, and they step away and go to whatever spot I'm pointing to. It's a good feeling having that bit more respect out of these guys. They have all been so good in every way with their ground manners but feeding time has always been dicey. It just never occured to me that getting respect from them during feeding would carry over to other areas, and I let it slide because when I was keeping them in separate pens it didn't seem to be a problem. So another lesson learned for this old lady!

I was watching Lex running around in the pasture the other day. He was doing his version of a run walk which (it's hard to describe) seems to be still very stiff and on the forehand, not using his back at all. He does this gait all on his own now. There is head bob and to the casual eye he looks relaxed but he is not using his back. I have worked for years on trying to get him to lift the base of his neck and engage his back but I just don't seem to be getting there. Along with this, while he is very light in the bridle he isn't all that soft. So what to do. I was watching the Larry Whitesell video some one posted on here and he said something that really got me. He was having the rider do transitions but her downward transitions were to be accomplished with no backward pull on the reins. The horse was to move forward into the slower gait. I've heard this over and over but for some reason today I thought AH HA! I have taught Lex to stop when I stop riding. He will go from a canter to a dead stop if I stop riding. Can be a pita for those times I want him to keep going but get a little off balance! Anyhoo, this has contributed to his tendency to go on his forehand. So while I had already planned on practicing lots of transitions with him on the trail and in the arena, now I will be much more aware of how I ask for those transitions and the quality of the downward transitions. I think it will help him get more on the hindquarters and also help soften more. Boy am I getting anxious for that arena to get finished!! I have so much I want to do with all my guys! I'm beginning to think the Spanish riding school has it right. Go slow go slow go slow! A person needs a minimum of 25 years of riding theory before they ever touch a horse if they ever hope to train one without screwing up, and then another lifetime of riding before they are accomplished! This stuff is hard! If you want to do it right and do right by every horse, it takes a lifetime I think. You never stop learning.

Mar 9: Aaaarrrrggggghhhhh! My shiny new tack room is leaking! Last week we had a freeze, ice and freezing rain on everything. Then the thaw. Then we discovered a whole ton of water on the floor of my tack room. Grrrr. Now it has rained....a lot.....since that tack room was built and no leaks but now suddenly.....water water everywhere. So where is it coming from? Two possible spots that we can think of, the window unit ac that is set into the wall, and the electric panel that comes into the barn through that wall. So Chad built a cover for the ac and he was going to build one for the elec panel but Lew, in all his infinate wisdom told him not to. Well guess what. It rained again yesterday and yep more water. Lew still thinks it's the ac but I could feel the insulation in the wall just under the unit and it's dry. We can't get to the insulation behind the elec box but I'd bet a year's worth of ice cream it's soaked. So I talked Lew into taping a plastic bag over the elec panel. It's supposed to rain some more today. I almost hope it does so we can see if the plastic bag stops the leak. Why is every project so hard? Just once I'd like to build something and have it go smoothly, no leaks, no cracks, no flooding....just a simple dry building. We're both acquarians. Something about water there. Our first house was next to a river....we were careful to be sure it was out of the flood plain and it was 70 feet above the river. We got flooded twice. Not from the river, oh no, it was run off from the hill above the house. Fixed that, then moved to a house situated on top of a hill and nowhere near a river. Got flooded the first year we owned the house! We had a 12 inch in a hour rain and the yard flooded and the water came into the porch from UNDER the sidewalk. We had to replace that entire wall, raise the foundation, install a french drain and replace the sidewalk. No more problems with that house other than the foundation cracked in about a million pieces. Now we're in this new house.....at the top of a hill, no river, not even a stock tank....major ditches around the house and the foundation is a foot above grade. So far no flooding. So what happens? The dang barn leaks! Am I just being paranoid or are the water gods out to get us? Oh and water is still running onto my arena. I keep telling Chad he has to fix the drainage before he brings in any dirt for footing but so far that has fallen on deaf ears. He's supposed to start leveling the pad with the bobcat this next week and I am going to hound him until he gets it the way I want it. He'll do it, it's just a matter of priorities up to this point.
On a happier note....Chad's helper Bubba.....what a totally southern name....was able to put my old Miles City saddle up on the purline over the tack room. So now I have two saddles up there, they look cool! Bubba is a nice guy, I promised him donuts if he'd lug that heavy saddle up there so now I have to find a donut shop around here, I think there's one in Montgomery. Ha!
So far I've taken Dodah, Lex, Roger, and Maisey into the new barn and walked them around the arena to let them get used to it. Lex is the only one that has been spooky. He was pretty snorty so once it's finished I'll have to turn him and Dodah loose in there to get used to it.

Mar 10: sunshine! I bridled up Lex and rode him in the round pen for a while today, just bareback. At first I worked on getting him to drop his head when I lifted the reins. In the beginning he would drop that head right down but for some reason, the more I practiced it the more he needed me to direct the reins laterally to get his head down. I'm only talking about subtle changes in the direction I move my hands but still, not sure why he was doing that. So then I decided maybe he just needed to do something else so I set him up to do some shoulder fore on the circle. This little round pen.....or should I say oblong-ish pen is really small which for my purposes was good today. The object of the exercise was to get him to move in shoulder fore on some kind of a radius (a circle would be nice but too ambitious for today) without having to guide him or direct his head other than asking for him to soften and drop his head. The bend and lateral movement comes from my cue to his side. Always before I would get his head down but then I felt I had to hold him in position while he moved laterally. Mistake I think. I think a better way is to get his head down, get him soft and ask the inside hind leg to step under. If I do it right he should bend through his body and stay soft and be able to make a corner (or circle) and not need me to hold him there. He has always wanted to stiffen up especially going shoulder fore to the left (lately, used to be to the right). He will never learn to use his back the way I want him to until he can do this as soft as butter. Another way to say it is I've been concentrating on the pattern of the exercise instead of the movement. Get the movement correct and you can do whatever pattern you want. At least that's the way I see it now. Today for the first time he was able to go shoulder fore to the left for several steps with his head down and SOFT!!!!! We didn't do a circle or even a half circle, it was more like a few steps off the rail but it was soft and easy and relaxed.
So now I wonder about all those dressage lessons I took when we spent hours trying to perfect the shoulderfore down the long side. I know when you teach beginners they need a reference point like the rail to get some idea of what they are doing but I wonder if it would be better to try and teach the feel of a horse bending and stepping under first and not worry so much about staying 30 degrees and 3 feet off the rail. Hummmm. Food for thought.

Tuesday: Had the most delightful ride today on Dodah. I LOVE THAT HORSE!!!!!!!! He is the best horse in the world. And the sun is shining! Yea!
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 02:39:51 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2014, 02:24:56 pm »

I decided to mess around with Lex again today to see if I could do any better with that shoulder fore. The plan was bareback in the round pen but we're having 40+ mph wind gusts so Lex was high as a kite and riding him just didn't seem prudent! So I thought ok I'll just try this from the ground. Again like the last time, I could get a great response from him with just lifting the rein....at first. Got that head nicely down but as soon as I asked for any lateral movement the head would pop up and he'd either back up or try to circle me. He could not focus at all and used every little thing to startle and look away. So off came the bridle and out came the whip and we did some ground school. Now, he knows all this stuff so well all I need to do is point and he knows where to go and usually how fast. Not today. At first it was panic, run, think about jumping the panel, run some more. Keep in mind the whip was in "neutral" behind me so he wasn't running from that, just running to be a goof. I only pulled the whip out to gesture when he ran through my hand signal. Anyway, after maybe 15 minutes he finally settled and started paying attention to me and then I got the most lovely slow collected canter on about a 10 ft circle just right around me. Almost a canter pirouette. Boy did that look like fun to ride, I can't wait. I can remember a few years ago when this horse couldn't canter a 60 ft round pen without crossfiring. Seriously. We spent months, years, on getting him balanced. Worked on longe line, at liberty and under saddle. Now he can almost canter in place. Nice.
So once he was settled I went back to asking for softness and lateral movement. He could do softness or he could do lateral but not both together. This was from the ground. The problem was when he raised his head I couldn't go with him....too short. Since I didn't want to ask him to drop his head by pulling laterally on the rein he was able to out manuever me. But I kept with it, ask for soft, get it. Ask for lateral, get it, lost the soft. Ask for soft, get it, release and pet. When I finally got a couple of steps of soft and lateral I quit. I think given his height and my lack of height, this will be easier to teach from his back. Also there is some baggage built in there from me holding his head down and flexed while asking him to step under so he is trying to figure out what I want because the feel is different. What I noticed that is really good was today he stepped under with the inside foot every time, both sides. Yea! At least he's got that part. The other thing, when I ask for softness by lifting the rein up instead of laterally he is really lifting the base of his neck. So I'm thinking this is the key I've been missing all this time. Thanks Michel Schaffer.

Mar13: nice weather today. I worked with Lex again today. Started with a little ground work in the round pen and today he was with me right away, no head long barreling around the pen, just slow gait to the left and slow trot to the right. So I bridled him up and hopped on bareback and proceeded to ask for a nice soft give which I got until I asked him to move his feet. Sigh. So all I did today was ask for the softness and then ask for him to walk. As soon as he lost softness I would ask again and hold him until he gave it to me. If that meant he had to stop, ok but if he could do it while moving his feet...all better. I actually approached this from several directions depending on how responsive he was and how much he was trying. At the end we were able to stay pretty soft while walking forward several feet without me "holding" him is a frame. I feel like I'm starting all over again....giant leap backward 4 years. I know it isn't really that bad but sometimes I get discouraged. If I could just get in that arena I know I could make more headway. Oh well. And he also was able to do a nice soft lateral bit today, both directions. Actually it might be easier to teach him to move laterally with softness than to walk forward straight. It seemed like it anyway. I would ask and the second I felt his back come up I'd let him stop and get pets. Got him pretty good with lifting that back for a few steps.
I have never had a horse have so much trouble lifting his back!  Really he will do anything to avoid lifting his back. Dork. But what I'm doing now has worked better than anything else I've tried, plus I have a clearer idea of how he feels when he does lift his back so I am better able to select for that. Also I hope once he discovers how much easier it is to move that way, he'll do it more easily. The fact that his canter has gotten so much better is testament to the fact that he is at least starting to get the idea. My friend Bobbie always says "The more she learns, the smarter her horses get" and yep I've observed the same phenomena! Ha!

I rode Dodah at a new place today....Jones park. It's several thousand acres adjacent to The Woodlands in Conroe. Pretty flat and wooded and has a grid of trails (actually more like dirt roads) criss crossing. Boring actually, but fairly dry and a great place for me to take the Lex man. Those roads are straight and level and sandy so I can let Lex gait or canter till he beggs to stop! Should take some of the starch outta his sails! Lew has agreed to ride Dodah with me so we can set Lex up to lose his mind so I can try to ride him through it in a safe environment. It's a theory. But I've tried everything else I can think of so maybe this'll work. Can't hurt.

The Tuesday ride was at Sally's place this week. Her old horse has cushings and can't handle riding in the forest....to long and too rough. So we decided to do a road ride with her this week....short and slow....and people could ride their old horses if they wanted to.....nice easy ride. I debated taking Blue but at the last minute decided to just take Dodah. Blue hasn't been ridden in years, I don't even know if he's capable of carrying a rider, and frankly I've never ridden on the road that I didn't encounter more booger bears than I ever see in the forest! Sally insisted her neighborhood is quiet, never anything going on.....but still....don't trust the road. Sure enough......first was the noisy garbage truck, then a golf cart, then mini donk, then a whole herd of minis.....lots of cars......an emu.....and 4 electric line repair trucks with man lifts and all kinds of noisy stuff. We did fine until the emu......sent Dodah straight over the edge! I bailed and let him walk circles around me for 5 minutes or so until he got over it then I led him up to the bird to sniff noses and when he went to grazing I determined crisis over and mounted up. He handled everything else ok. Time was he would have been fine with the emu too but since he's had that eye removed he seems to have more trouble getting over it when something scares him. He doesn't get that scared often and when he does usually I just let him stand still until he processes things and then we go on. Today he wasn't even willing to stand still! He had it in reverse as fast as his legs could go! And I was using the bosal on him AND the bar ditch was very muddy and soft......so I could have ridden it out and done circles on the road and take a chance on him slipping on the pavement, or I could do circles in the bar ditch and have him sink in mud up to his knees and scare himself even more, or I could have taken a chance on him blowing through the bosal and running away with me and a one rein stop in that area would not be a good thing either. I chose to bail, get in a position where he could see me which always calms him down and let him move around me while he worked off the hebejeebees. When we came back down that road on our way back to Sally's he hardly noticed the emu. Lets just say I am not a fan of road riding! And sooooo glad I didn't bring Blue!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 05:02:03 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2014, 03:06:51 pm »

Where do I start.....Lex tried my patience today. Honestly there are days I could just shoot him, and then he does something so totally awesome and I wonder how I could ever be mad at him. Go figure. Today I decided to just spend some "together" time with Lex. Thought I'd take him into the new arena (which still isn't finished btw) and just hang out, let him get used to the sounds and maybe do a little ground work, maybe try some more lateral stuff. He was really high, almost walking on me and not focused at all. So I put him to work on the lunge line doing a lot of direction changes and stuff and that helped. So then I thought it'd be fun to lead him down the trail I just cut through the neighbors property that will take us down to the forest. Again he went ballistic and was walking all over me so I aborted that mission....no desire to get squashed today. So I'm getting a little miffed and decided he could just stand tied to the trailer until he could relax. He started out fairly ok, the trailer has always been his safe spot since that trip when I took him to Paleface park and he freaked out when the eight legged unside down orange inflatable couch walked by on the way to the lake. That time he spent 3 hours tied up but by the end of it he was going to sleep and even the orange couch float didn't bother him. Today, not so good. The difference was today he could occasionally see his pasture mates off in the distance and he sure wanted to be with them. He almost settled right after I trimmed his front feet but when I didn't turn him loose in a reasonable amount of time he started getting really pissed! It was very clear he was losing patience with me. So I took him back into the arena and did more ground work. This time I worked on lateral.....and here's the good part.......today I saw proof that it's NOT ABOUT THE HEAD!!!!!!! Or the neck or even the ribs. It's ALL and I mean TOTALLY about the rear end. Today I started having him,slowly,circle me on a 10 ft lead. So the circle was maybe 10 feet in diameter. As he circled I slowly started asking him to step further under with his inside rear foot. As he started to step under I allowed him to carry his whole body laterally in what ended up being a shoulder in on a circle. I never asked him to lower his head or bend, just step under with that foot. My hand on the lead was fairly close to his halter and was raised slightly but the lead was slack. As he stepped under more and more his head came down and his whole body formed a cresent shape and it was as easy as falling off a log. He was able to do this for many steps in both directions, much more than he's done before. I am sooooo jazzed!! This is real progress. Now if I can figure out how to get this under saddle won't that be cool! I think while I'm waiting for the arena to get finished I'll just work on perfecting his skill in hand, maybe see if we can take more steps and maybe even go down the long side for a ways. Hoowee!

Monday Mar24: Got a little ride on Amigo today. Caught him, saddled him, flexed him, and put him in the round pen. He was totally good with all that. Once in the round pen I free lunged him with saddle on...walk trot....got one little humpy buck, hardly even got his feet off the ground, then I started asking him to come in to me. It took him a few times around the pen to figure out he needed to focus on me but once he did he came in all 4 times I asked. Then he followed me all over the pen. Real sweet boy! So then I hopped on. Vivian still had hold of the halter rope but was totally passive, just standing in place while I rode around her. Amigo understood right away to step forward when I asked, he is guiding much more easily and not at all trying to push against the bit. His halt was wayyyyyy better today. I only needed to do the alternating rein squeeze 3 times for each halt and the last one he almost stopped off my seat! I had Vivian stand as far away from me as she could get while I turned him toward her to change direction. Each time he was just as soft as butter. He would turn his head very easily but had a little trouble understanding I wanted him to move his feet too. I just kept politely nudging with my outside leg until he tried to step over and make the turn, then lots of pets and let him walk on. Only once he spooked a little bit when Vivian stubbed her toe. He got a little scared but settled down almost instantly. Then later as I was mulling over whether to remove the halter, he got a little worried and seemed like he was a bit lost and didn't know what to do. That may have been because I lost my focus for a minute, who knows, but I decided to leave the halter on and make another circuit of the round pen, practice halting and ask for a step back. Once he was more confident and doing a couple of things he felt sure of, I got off. He seems to be easily upset when he's unsure of what I want so I plan to go very slow with him and let him gain confidence as he learns more stuff. The last thing I want is for him to freak out at this stage because he is trying so hard to do what I want. We don't need any negative experiences. So far I have not seen any hint of resistance or attitude or crankiness. Progress is slow but I see significant improvement with every ride and today, despite the little spook and getting a little lost  his overall confidence was much improved. Boy I sure hope he's gaited because I think I'm really going to like this little guy.
Then when I got home I decided to work a little with Lex. I bridled him and hopped on bareback and today he was very calm and sensible. He didn't even get worried about the dog running around in the yard. Did a little lateral work, got a few good steps and felt him raise his back once. I can't do much in that round pen because the ground is so uneven and sloped but I do think he was trying. I NEED THAT ARENA!
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 05:40:30 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2014, 09:28:10 pm »

For some reason this forum bumped me off and I had to re register! Huh? So not sure if this post on my journal is going towork but will try. I'm already in a pissy mood and this kind of computer snafu doesn't help.
Had a nice little ride on Maisey with the Tuesday group today. We started the ride in the front right behind the 2 fastest horses, one a racker and the other a nervous jiggy trotter. Little Maisey did her best to keep up and did a pretty good job too without losing her mind. I was surprised and pleased. But at some point the order got changed up and we ended up further behind toward the end of the line of horses. She felt like she needed to still keep up with the horses in front so at that point she did get a little rushy, couldn't decide whether she wanted to gait or canter. Her gait is faster than her canter but it's more work for her so she kept changing and then getting frustrated and started going crooked and fighting with me. I finally was able to convince her she wasn't going to die if we slowed down and she calmed down and stopped arguing with me and we finished the ride with all our brains between our ears. Also on this ride she elected to jump several of the logs on the trail. That is becoming fairly common for her and she's not a bad little jumper. Boy, what a difference in her mood since I got her off the soy. Whew! It's like two different horses! I think this little girl might just become a great trail horse.
I learned about a new-to-me type of dressage ish competition called working equitation. Apparently this wask developed in Spain or Portugal?? Anyway it seems the top horses in the sport are the Andelusians and Lucitanos. Looks pretty interesting.....sort of like trail classes but mostly done in canter with lots of very small canter circles where the horse must be very collected. Lots of tempi changes. The beginner classes are performed at trot and/or canter and the obstacles are easier. Inspires me to set up a good obstacle course in my arena. I'm also going to have a ramp that leads down about 20feet into the pasture below the arena.....perfect area to practice backing up a slope. I have no idea whether any of these ladies I ride with here will be interested in learning how to do obstacles but I hope they do. If not.....well then I'll be able to practice all I want without having to share! Maybe I'll start doing actha rides again.

A quick note: I worked Maisey for a few minutes in the snaffle yesterday......in the round pen, bareback, just flexing and doing some turns and backing and getting soft....nothing too hard. She was really good and quite soft to the left but to the right, a couple of times, she tried to hang on the bit for a few seconds before she came around. Nothing much just not quite as soft as she was to the left. Attitude wise she was very calm and sweet but I noticed she was chewing the bit some and she had quit doing that the last time I had her in a bit so not sure what that was all about. This time I did start off with the leather reins instead of the twine so that may have been the difference. Well she's just going to have to get used to real reins! I can't be riding her on the trail with twine! However I do have a  horse hair mecate that is very thin and light, maybe I ought to try using that on that bit instead of those leather reins.....hummmmm. Worth a try for sure.

Monday, Mar31: Rode Maisey yesterday. Marsha was on Dodah. They were great and we had a wonderful ride through the woods.....the dogwoods were spectacular! But......I've been a bad horsey mommy again.....sigh. I am really having to go through a steep learning curve since we moved here. Apparently my old deworming routine isn't good enough here. I was worming my guys according to fecal worm counts done every 2 months. After a year I determined that Roger and Maisey were heavy shedders and the other 4 horses were not. So Rog and May got wormed every 2 months and the rest twice a year. Then when we moved I wormed everybody before I put them on their shiny new virgin pasture. I've wormed twice since then. Over the winter Red and Dodah have lost a lot of weight. Red is in his late 20's so I figured he needed his teeth floated so I had them all checked and really the only one needing anything was Dodah. I had Red and Blue done anyway and then also Dodah. Red is still too thin and now Dodah has lost a bunch of weight too. I will be doing fecals on everybody today but I suspect somehow they've gotten heavily infested with strongyles. So I'm going to do 5 days of panacure on the 4 horses that seem to be wormy....poor hair coat and thin-ish.
The good news is I rode in my arena for the first time yesterday!!! They got sand in it Saturday so yesterday after our ride in the woods, we did a little mini drill in there. The horses were fine with it and not even spooky at the tarp we have hanging on the west side to keep the rain out. Chad showed up yesterday before we went out riding and his big question was why didn't he see hoof prints in the arena? Well those prints are in there now! Ha!

April 1: The Tuesday ride.....I rode Maisey and there were 4 other riders. In the beginning I put Maisey second in line and she was soooooo good. She would slow down or speed up when I asked, stop and set up before going down into the gullys, half halt over the logs.....just a super little horse. Then on the way back to the trailers the lead horse took off in a fast trot. Maisey did her best to keep up but was really worried about the horse behind her that was hard trotting and getting very close to her. She tried canter, trot, gait, pace.....some of it was even straight but most of the time she was real crooked. So we gotta work on that. She is getting better but has a long way to go. Then I put her in front and asked for gait. She needed a fair amount of encouragement from the get down string but mostly I was able to motivate her. She was straighter but couldn't maintain a steady speed. She is beginning to understand the difference between my cue for gait and canter though but boy it takes a lot to keep her going! But again, she's tons better than when I first got her and she would not even walk out in front. She really worked up a sweat today! I think that's the most gaiting we've done.....well, gait, trot, canter.....
Today was Dodah's second dose of panacur and I may be imagining things but to me he looks better....more alert and interested. He sure was interested in his dinner this evening at least! The horses are getting much less interested in their hay so I think I'll be able to quit feeding hay in a few more weeks, once the burmuda starts growing, especially if we get more rain. That jig burmuda will grow a foot a week at least, much faster than coastal. They say it has more protein in it too but I find that hard to believe. I guess we'll find out, this will be the first full year on this pasture. I'm interested to see if it will support 6 horses like everyone says.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2014, 05:04:26 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2014, 12:25:48 pm »

I decided to cowgirl up and ride Lex alone in the forest behind our house. I picked a crummy day for it, windy, cool and a front coming in....yeehaw. Anyway he seemed pretty calm while I saddled up and led him down to the forest so I hopped on and away we went. He has never really had a problem with going away from home and will usually walk out boldly and will cross anything....no fear. The problem comes the second we turn back toward home. Then it's high gear and away we go. And this in spite of the fact I have never allowed or asked him to go fast toward home or trailer, I always walk my horses home on a loose rein....or at least try to.  I need to change something. I think it comes from a lack of confidence which is weird since he walks out so boldly going out. I also think it has more to do with wanting to get back to his buddies than wanting to stop working. At some point I think I'm going to have to ride the hair off him till he's just too tired to care about running home but I'm not ready to do that yet and still not sure that is the proper approach. Today I decided to just take him a short way out, far enough that he settled down and was enjoying going along, about a quarter mile. It started raining and the wind picked up and it's not safe in those woods in high wind due to all the dead trees so I turned back toward home. Immediately he picked up the pace to a seriously fast walk. I let him go as long as he stayed relaxed and wasn't pulling on me. The minute he got rushy I put him in circles around some brush....I picked this trail just so I could work around the brush..... When he settled back down we'd continue toward home until he got rushy again, then more circles around brush. This went on for maybe an hour. I changed it up some and instead of circling I would make him just go back up the trail away from home. Several times I told him to halt and if he did and was quiet we would just stand there for a bit, maybe graze. We finally worked our way back to the trail behind the house so I made him go back and forth along the back of our property until he could do so calmly. Then I got off and led him up the hill to the arena and tied him up, saddle and all, and let him chill for about 30 minutes. Then put him up. Whole ride took a couple of hours. Boy he needs a whole lot of this. What I learned is the boy has learned how to lift his back alright! He also has figured out....or thinks he's figured out how to evade the bit byputting his head way down by his chest. He was doing the most incredible round smooth gait. Not what I'd call a run walk exactly, more like a real round collected rack if you can imagine. Maybe it was a foxtrot, I couldn't tell because I didn't let him do it for long. He would get in that gait and I'd let him go as long as I could on a draped rein but he couldn't leave well enough alone and would start pulling on me and going crooked like he does, so I'd have to get him circling again.  some day when it's a hundred and fifty in the shade and I have all day, and I know that he knows the trail and is confident on it,  I sure want to take him out and ride him through that gait. The other thing I saw was he will stop when I tell him to, if I tell him to stop before he gets all crooked. That going crooked is what he does when he loses his mind. Always before I dealt with it by doing a one rein stop. Today I stayed away from that and instead when I felt him going crooked I turned him in as large a circle as I could, which was pretty small on these narrow trails, the opposite way from where he was trying to go with his crooked self.
This worked really well and got him straight again and calmed down pretty quick so I think I'm going to continue to use the circles instead of the one rein stop, try to stay early and see if we can't get him to stop this evasive behavior. And ride alone!
The arena is going to be finished enough that I can ride in it this weekend. Will be raining so yea! They will finish the last side today and hang all the gates. All that's left is the viewing stand and putting the stall panels up and finishing the corral and fences that were removed in order to build the whole thing. Can't wait to start feeding my guys in their new barn!

Sat: Gates didn't get hung yet so no riding this weekend besides it's cold and windy....so poo. I have been reading some of Michael Schaffer's books again and they have gotten me so inspired to start back training on Lex.....I can't wait to start working him again. Anyway reading through this stuff, I always find things I missed the last time I read it or maybe this time it is more obviously relavent to some problem I have going on.....very good reference books and not too hard to read and understand....lots of pics too so it's easier to visualize what he's talking about. I went to a schooling clinic today for working equitation.. Interesting. The obstacles were like the most basic trail obstacles and still the riders had difficulty doing them. These were mostly lower level dressage riders and horses and most of them had never tried to open a gate or back through poles. I like that the English riders are starting to see the value in learning to do obstacles because they really point out the holes in your riding and training! I know Lex is proficient doing those kinds of obstacles but I'm not sure he could keep his brain between his ears in that environment given the way he's behaved on our forest trails lately. I'm hoping he remembers something from our little 2 hour training session in the forest the other day so we can move forward from there but knowing him it will take many more of those kinds of sessions to get him totally ok with riding close to but not at home, close to but not with his buddies. Then I keep thinking about that gait he offered heading home. Boy if I could bottle that I'd be a millionare! I know he's capable of a high degree of collection and I can just imagine riding him in collected canter....I can feel it! Then I get on him and he's a butt head and I get discouraged. Reading the Schaffer books and watching the Brannaman dvds helps me remember my goals and realize they ARE attainable! Patience, persistance, and keep remembering he's not really a brat he just doesn't understand......that's the hard part. Forty years of dealing with horses as if they are being stubborn or willful when they don't do what I want, and thinking I can MAKE them do it......that mind set and those habits don't easily change. I have to consciously think how I'm going to deal with his issues before he does whatever he does because if I wait and then just react in the moment, I usually get mad and go straight to punish when the better route is to be calm and not get angry and then show him a better way. That's what I did in the forest the other day and I think it worked, at least it did for that ride. Instead of one reining him hard and getting all pissy at him, I stayed calm, turned him in small (narrow trail) circles as gently as I could and kept his feet moving until he told me he could slow down. So while it looked like I did pretty much what I always do, my attitude was different and the execution was slightly different and I believe it makes a huge difference to the horse. That and tons of miles alone in the forest and maybe, just maybe, he'll become a good sound sensible trail horse. Then I can start teaching him the higher level stuff....collected canter, tempis......and take him to some schooling clinics......ah, I should stop now, my imagination is getting away from me!

Monday : Blue was feeling real bad this morning, not eating and just standing around or wanting to lay down. I thought maybe he was choking. It didn't look like colic. I had noticed him being lethargic yesterday too but he ate his breakfast ok and was feeling ok enough to fight with Lex so I wasn't too concerned but then this morning when he didn't eat I got worried. Temp was normal. Gut sounds ok. Gums slightly pale. Laying down. Not eating or drinking. I called the vet and made an appt for him this afternoon. Went back out to liberate all the other horses and noticed Blue was licking a salt block. So I turned every body else loose and put Blue in the pen with his food and dang if he didn't start eating. Canceled the vet appt and this afternoon he seems much better and back to his normal cranky self. The only thing I can figure is he was having a reaction to the panacur I have been giving everybody for the past 2 days. No more panacur for him! I forget he has a sensitive stomach and can't eat certain types of feed. Whole grain or sweet feed....no bueno. I guess panacur no bueno too. Onward through the fog!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:27:41 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2014, 04:36:38 pm »

Yipppppeeeeee!!!!!!! Arena is essentially finished! All that's left is rebuilding the fences we had to remove to put in the pad, build the corral and stalls and place all the matts. Oh and hang the dinner bell! I rode Dodah in there today at noon when all the worker bees were gone and it was quiet. He loved the footing and wasn't one bit nervous even when the canvas on the west rail flapped a little. Then this evening when I thought everyone was gone I caught up Lex with the intention of riding him in there. Well just about the time I got him near the arena one of the worker bees cranked up the bobcat to do some last minute dirt work. So I just let Lex get used to that bobcat which he didn't seem to mind much. Once that all settled down and the guy was finished pushong dirt, I took Lex into the arena and just did some in hand work. Started with direction changes then morphed into walking along while doing direction changes. That got him moving his shoulders better and staying off me better. Then I asked him to step under pretty far with his inside rear and we ended up doing shoulder in on a small circle. Michael Schaffer talks about this in his book. It's finding the horse's natural circle, where staying on the circle and bending is easiest for them. Not sure I had it exactly right but Lex was bending and stepping under as good as he's ever been able to do it and he could have done it for as long as I wanted him to, it was that easy for him. All I did was concentrate on getting that inside foot to come under and forward and the bend just took care of itself. I didn't have to ask him to put his head down or bend he just did it naturally. Then I allowed him to expand the circle and got shoulder in so soft and such a nice bend it was really cool. His head was down and there was an even arc through his whole body and the lead rope was totally slack. So we seem to be getting better from the ground. I wonder if I'll ever be able to get this in the saddle! I only worked him for maybe 15 minutes. He was sooo good I didn't want to push him into problems. I wanted to let him quit while he was successful. Boy it is nice having a whole big flat arena to do this work in and the footing is just great, not too deep and not too hard. The horses really seem to like it.
And they finished the viewing stand today! I sat up there some this afternoon and this will be a great place for an instructor to sit or for taking pictures. You can see the whole arena almost unobstructed. Nice breeze too. I'm hoping maybe Frances will want to come here to give lessons....to me at first but then maybe later to other people, especially when it's hot or raining.

Sunday Apr13:  Rode Dodah in the forest friday. Beautiful day and a great ride. We saw a coral snake....first one of those I've seen out here and it was pretty big for a coral snake. It was on the trail right in front of me so I told Dodah to stop so the snake could get out of the way. That stupid snake wiggled around for a bit then scooted off into the brush but then the dang thing turned around and came back right under Dodah! Then it proceeded to flop around under his legs and finally wandered off back into the brush. Dodah didn't move an inch the whole time. Not sure if he even knew there was a snake doing situps under his belly! A little later we passed a honey tree. I could hear the bees but didn't see them until we stopped and looked around. The tree was about 20 feet off the trail. The forest is so nice this time of year. We're just past dogwood blooming season which I always love. Now the verbena is blooming as are the dewberries. And with all the rain, the ferns are carpeting the ground. I keep saying I'm going to carry a little bucket and harvest some of those dewberries when they're ripe in a month but somehow I never manage to beat the birds to the ripe ones!

I've had Lex in the arena twice now. In hand both times though just to get him used to things. I planned on riding him today but Lew was using the chain saw on some trees and Lex was a little too concerned over that so we just did some ground work until he was bored. He seems most concerned on the north side of the arena where the elevation is about 15 feet. I think he would like to explore the slope down to the pasture, especially since it's covered in "virgin" rye grass, but that's not gonna happen. We got panels installed on about 1/3 of the corral, we have almost all of the stall mats down and half of the stall panels installed. Chad has finished the gates into the corral and at the base of the arena ramp. Monday he'll finish the pasture fence so we can move some more panels, and Tuesday he'll finish the cross fence. If I can keep Lew motivated we should have this project finished by the end of the week!

Been reading the thread about the lady and the spooking horse and it got me thinking.......about me and Lex and people and how they interact with their horses in general and about trainers and clinicians. Wow that's a lot to think about! I went to a Leslie Desmond clinic twice actually (I'm a slow learner). The first time I audited. I should have figured out something was wrong when literally every single participant was either confused, pissed off, and/or in tears but being a slow learner I didn't snap to the signals and took a horse (Maisey) to her next clinic. Now I'd only had Maisey for a few months then and she was totally ignorant and shut down and had no respect for humans. In fact she barely recognized there was a human within a mile of herself unless she was hungry. I took her to this clinic because I was having a lot of trouble getting her to accept a bit and I needed help to figure out what she needed. Leslie never asked me how long I'd had her, never asked how much training she'd had. Instead she railed on me for creating this mess of a horse by being too kissy kissy with her, hugging her head, feeding her treats.....if you've ever been exposed to that woman you know what she does. Anyway none of that was true of me, I'd only had the dang horse a couple of months! But I knew her previous owner must have done all those things so I kept my mouth shut and didn't argue. One of Leslie's "things" is don't ever set a horse up to fail. Going into the clinic I didn't really understand what that meant but by the end of it I did because Leslie continually sets her clinic participants up to fail! And I can tell you it feels pretty bad. That's why all those people were mad and crying in the clinic I audited. I didn't cry but I sure came close and yes I was pissed! How much learning do you think went on in that clinic? Not much. But I can't complain exactly because I did learn a huge lesson......never never never set your horse up to fail!
So going back to this recent thread where the horse is spooking at one particular place...... Makes me wonder if that is an example of setting a horse up to fail. Here's my thinking......the horse gets scared originally of some hogs or something in that area. The rider is an aggressive rider by her own admission. I'm assuming by "aggressive" she means she can ride through any thing and can "make" a horse behave. I make a distinction between aggressive and confident btw. So the horse is scared and thinks he's going to die if he goes near that place. She insists on riding him past that spot to teach him not to shy there. He gets close to the spot and when he can't stand it anymore because of the fear, she smacks him to make him go past the spot, thus confirming in his head that bad things are going to happen to him in that spot. When he turns away she lets him and when he can get farther away to a safe spot she pets him to calm him down. Not only has she set him up to fail by taking him into trouble in that spot, she has effectively reinforced his behavior by calming him at the wrong time. I see this kind of thing all the time on the trail too where a horse has worries about crossing a log or gully and the rider "makes" the horse go over by smacking him or spuring him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying never smack or spur a horse, sometimes that's exactly what's needed! The key is in the timing! And that is where the truly great horseman gets the best from the horse. Knowing when the horse is scared and needs time to process something, relax, and figure things out and then decide to do whatever it is you want him to do, versus knowing when a horse is saying "no" I just don't want to do that thing right now. Maisey has taught me a lot about this! A confident considerate rider will set the horse up, let him process and WAIT until it becomes the horse's idea to do the thing. A light touch with a spur or string may be appropriate but if the timing is right, all it will take is a light touch. An aggressive rider will point the horse at the ditch or log or whatever and spur, kick, whip, until the horse lunges over. Both riders get the horse over the ditch. One rider has taught the horse that ditches are no big deal and the other rider has taught the horse bad things will happen at the ditch. Which is which?
The thing is, all this training theory comes back to a certain mindset of the person doing the training. If you believe that horses are capable of human emotions and motives, then you believe they can be stubborn, resentful, resistant, lazy, etc. And you will be inclined to get a bigger bit, or spurs, or a trainer to fix things.  If you believe that horses only just want to be comfortable and safe and that all those behaviors we are not happy with come about because the horse is not feeling comfortable or safe, then you will start to try to figure out why the horse is uncomfortable or feeling unsafe, fix that and everybody is happy. This may sound simple and/or easy but it's not. Ask me how I know. It's so hard in fact that when faced with the prospect of changing themselves in order to change the horse a lot of people become defensive and even angry and certainly resistant to change. Ask any clinician, they see it all the time. I've been there, and still sometimes run up against a wall when I need to change something about myself.....re Lex and our issues with him losing his mind on the trail. This is not his problem, it's mine. I think I understand what I need to change but so far I have been unable to do so.....but am still working on it. I know he is getting scared at the point he loses his mind but so far I am unable to figure out how I can help him through that fear. This is my issue, not his. SolBritt was able to ride him on the trail, in a fast gait and kept him from losing his mind. She's a better rider than me. I have much to learn. Do I still get mad? Sure. Do I still try to "make" Lex change? Sure. That doesn't make it right or effective....it makes me a slow learner!
« Last Edit: April 16, 2014, 07:37:14 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2014, 08:32:51 pm »

Hoowee! Today was the first day to use the new arena/barn. Fed the horses in there this am and it all worked real well. I had to lead each horse into it's stall of course since they have no clue where they're supposed to go but they were all good and behaved themselves in the stalls. Lex was the only one to paw so glad for the stall mats!
Then I rode 4 horses today. Dodah was first. I had him in the bosal and we worked on bending and softness. He was actually pretty soft to the right but really didn't want to bend at all to the left and he got pretty pushy on that side. He can't see on the left side so I expect him to be stiff. The good news is after we worked on it a bit he did start to soften some on that side. We also worked on walk/runwalk transitions and a little lateral work....leg yield mostly. Did some turn on forehand and haunches too and backing straight. Next I rode Lex. Snaffle bit. Worked on bending.....a lot....around a bunch of cones, lots of direction changes trying to get him stepping under better and bending better. Then I did some walk/runwalk transitions. I really concentrated on keeping him very soft through those transitions. Starting out he had to throw his nose out quite a bit but later on he was bringing his head to vertical mostly. We need a lot more work on that though. Then I asked for and got a real nice run walk. Usually in an arena he's very flat and pacy but today he was at least trying to use his back. Finally I experimented with shoulder fore and he was doing that real well and very easily at a walk. No canter yet, I want him to be real secure in that arena before I push him up to canter.
Next was Maisey in her bosal. This was her first time in there I think so we just walked around and did some bending and some standing around. She was pretty worried by the canvas on the west side rail so we stayed over there and rested a lot. Finally I rode Blue. I remember him as being so easy to ride and I loved his foxtrot. Well it's been at least 5 years since he's been ridden. I'm sure he's forgotten a lot of stuff and for sure he's physically not the same horse but wow, he was soooooo crooked! Ugh! I felt like he was struggling to just walk with me riding him. The one time I asked him to gait didn't go well either. He tried but it was rough and he had to really work at it. I couldn't tell if it was hurting him or not but yuck! Anyway I will not be riding him. He can't handle it and I can't stand the crookedness. Oh well I had to try. LOVE MY ARENA!!!!!!

Sat 19th: Rode Lex in the arena again today. Fran was here with her horse so Lex had to deal with sharing his space with a strange horse. He was fine and I only had to spend a few minutes walking him around to calm down before I started asking him to work. Today I got a lot more run walk out of him. He is easier and softer going to the right but to the left he still was pretty good, just wanted to stop several times and had more trouble getting round. He didn't pace though which is such an improvement! A couple of times he really got to lifting those shoulders, super cool gait. Then I practiced opening and closing several gates, backing through the "L" and turn on forehand in the square. Did a series of 180's down the long side too. With every exercise I concentrated more on getting him to step under with his rear feet which in turn gets him bending better and gets him rounder through his back, and on keeping him soft. A few times he just had to throw his head up but he never once pulled or leaned on the bit. I think my timing is getting better too so that helps. I'm really pleased with his run walk and today I had him going several trips around the arena in each direction before I let him slow down and he did it, didn't pace, and although he asked to stop, he would keep going when I just nudged him. Didn't have to ever kick him. It felt like a couple of times he was ready to step into a canter but I didn't ask him to do it mostly because Fran was still in there with her horse and I didn't want any train wrecks.
Am going to ride Maisey in there this afternoon. If she's ok in the bosal, I may put the bit on her to begin really riding her in that thing. It will be up to her though.

Apr21: you know how sometimes you really look forward to something, imagine how it will be to go somewhere or do a particular thing, or get something you want and then once you get it, it doesn't match up to your dream? Well, that is not what has happened with my arena! I LOVE THAT ARENA!!!!! Today I rode Maisey in there in the am. She was very spooky, maybe since I had her in there by herself, so we just walked around (using the bosal again) and did a few circles and leg yields but mostly just let her settle. She was ok but her mind was out in the pasture so I got off and and did some ground work and then let her watch Lew move some clay with the tractor. Then I got the bright idea to flag her. It's been a long time since I've done that. She was ok until I found the scary spot over her back. She took off in a canter and I let her go. I figured she could go as fast as she wanted since the only place she could go was in a circle around me! I kept the flag floppin over her back until she thought about slowing down, then I eased off just a bit but kept it up there making some sound. When she stopped I quit. We did that all over the arena until she couldn't have cared less.
Then I got Lex. Wowee  what a great lesson. I flagged him first.....he couldn't care less. Then I roped his front foot and attempted to lead him by the foot. He couldn't care less and after a minute he was leading by that foot real soft so I roped the other one and led him by that foot too. No big deal. I know it's bee at least a couple of years since I've done any of that with him. So then I saddled up and hopped on and he was ready to rock and roll! We gaited both directions and he was pretty good, not quite as round as the other day but still acceptable. So then I asked for canter and got both leads!! I did have some trouble keeping him going so I carried a dressage whip but didn't have to use it. What I found is he canters much better on a small circle.....I let him choose the size and it's less than 20 meters....I' guess about 15 maybe.....then he does when taking the whole arena! This may be akin to Michael Schaffer's natural circle that he talks about in his book. Anyway once I let Lex pick his circle he got a lot rounder in the canter and was able to hold it longer. Weird. I've always been so hesitant to canter circles because I felt like my horse was going to fall down or something but today Lex showed me the circle can be a means to find balance! Go figure! So we cantered a bunch of circles. I didn't try to get him to round up or collect at all, I let him decide and found that on his circle he just naturally rounded more and got more on his hindquarters. I see lots of circles in our future! Then while he cooled down we walked around and did some haunches in, and sidepassed along the "L" both directions.
I may need to change saddles again. His saddle seems to have too much rock now.....maybe because he's using his back better?? Anyway I fitted him with my aussie saddle and also the Boz saddle. The aussie fits the best so I'll try that next ride. In the canter it almost felt like he was being pinched or something because he wasn't lifting his shoulders. I noticed this in gait too so will be curious to see what difference a different saddle makes, if any.

Apr22  Rode Dodah in the forest today....bosal and I changed out the Laport tree saddle for the Sommer endurance and he seemed happier. At least he was gaiting like a big dog today and I even got some very very nice canter! I changed saddles because I noticed the Laport saddle seemed to leave a rough hair spot on his spine at the very rear of the blanket. Not sure if it is a saddle or a blanket issue but I went ahead and changed everything, got a softer blanket for him too. He seemed happier but I noticed more rough hair at the end of the ride in the same spot but this saddle and pad don't extend back that far so not sure how the hair got ruffled. Didn't seem sore either so not going to worry about it unless he tells me there's a problem. Gosh it seems like I'm playing musical saddles lately with so many changes. I'm not going to remember who wears what! Will have to put labels.....sucks getting old!
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 02:17:59 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!
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