Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Username: Password:
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 8   Go Down

Author Topic: Training adventures  (Read 6398 times)

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2014, 12:46:26 pm »

Lex in the arena today. I had him in his snaffle and the wintec aussie. Ground work to start cause Lew was playing with the tractor and loading logs which all the horses spook at. I made Lex watch the log loading until he was relaxed. Then into the arena. We did more flagging. I'm trying to teach him to separate when the flag is meaningless and harmless vs when it means move your feet. Yesterday he was pretty sure the flag means get real still with your feet and it will go away! Ha! So today I used the flag to ask him to walk and then set it on his but or waved it over his back while he kept walking. He seemed to be getting the idea better today and never seemed overly worried about it. Then I got the rope and had him drag it on both sides with me leading him. That went well, even when I jerked the rope and walked over the blue tarp dragging it. So I tied a couple of bulky objects to the rope and we continued walking and dragging. He was most unhappy with it on his left side and we had to walk a fer piece before he could settle but he finally did and was able to lead straight instead of trying to do haunches out! So then I sped up, faster walk and that actually seemed to help him get over his concern better! Go figure. Then I got on and did a bunch of gaiting. I have to carry a dressage whip for motivation but after I popped him the first time I didn't need to use it any more. We gaited circles, changed direction through the circle and even did leg yields in gait. Wow! I remember when he could only gait a few steps in a straight line and then he would go back to pace. Being able to hold a nice run walk on a circle is huge! His downward transitions are getting better too. Before I would ask him to slow from gait to walk and he would just plow to a halt, be on his forehand and be very abrupt. Now he can go from runwalk to walk smoothly but he loses collection in the walk. So we need to work on that. Didn't canter today.

Apr26: Lex again today. Holy cow! I was able to ride him while carrying a flag....just at a walk but while he was not totally in agreement with the program, he wasn't upset or pissy about it either so I count that as a good thing. Then we gaited....a lot! I had him going into gait from a halt and also from a back up.....back up several steps until he's got his head down and is nice and soft and round, and then without changing anything (in theory) step forward into gait. He did pretty good but had to raise his head a little in the transition. THEN we cantered. Got both leads correctly every time. Got him to take the left lead from a walk but the right lead still needed to gait first. I'm trying to set him up for his leads at a walk and really exaggerate the position.....haunches in with my outside leg really far back and my inside leg almost up by his shoulder. Then I canter with my seat and he should step into the canter. He did to the left. I was also able to canter any size circle (almost) and then go large and he stayed in canter and again today I rediscovered the balancing benefits of the circle. Cantering to the right from the walk.....he had trouble and had to gait a few steps which I think got him a little flat so that the canter was not good. Instead of stopping him I put him on about a 20 meter circle and let him work out his balance and he started using his back and the canter got much better. Why have none of the coaches I've used recommended this technique to get him using his back? I know they are aware of this so maybe he and I weren't ready for the circle, anyway I got it working for me now! Then going to the left he was nicely balanced and his canter was pretty good so I asked him to collect and he did! Before when I've tried that he's misunderstood and thought I was asking for him to stop but today he just dropped his little head and lifted his back and collected! YEA!!!!! I finally feel like I know SOMETHING about riding a horse!  Actually I think we've made huge improvements in just the week or two we've been working in this arena. I can hardly believe how good he's doing. Now if I can get Maisey going as well........
And I didn't need to even carry the dressage whip today, he was plenty motivated without it. Yea!
I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Boy this horse has so much potential. If I can get us past our issue on the trail, he will be good to go as a trail horse, he could also show I think, and for sure do dressage and trail obstacle. Quite versatile. I'm pretty happy with him today for sure. Oh and he paid no attention....zero....to the blue tarp that I draped over the arena rail and he was only mildly concerned with the big blue plastic jug we drug around the arena, even when it bumped his rear legs. I also made him back up and dragged that jug toward him as he backed and he was ok with that. I may be able to start dragging stuff from the saddle soon.

Monday.....I rode both Lex and Maisey today. Maisey was kind of tuning me out and being worried about everything but what I was doing so I spent some time getting her to focus. We walked and everytime her attention went out of the arena and/or away from me I changed direction. By the end of our short ride she was focused on me like a laser. Also she was totally unconcerned with the rope and blue jug. I drug it on both sides and even bumped her legs and she didn't care but she was pretty concerned by the plastic flags on the poles in the arena. She spooked once when a flag behind her flappedin the breeze but her spook was small and not a big deal and she got over it quickly.
Lex was great with the blue jug. No worries today. I rode him in the laport tree saddle and there is a definate change in his way of going in it. He seems a lot flatter, can't use his back as well and is a lot less motivated. I had to carry the whip today and could barely keep him going. In fact I didn't canter him because he felt so off. It feels like he doesn't want to, or can't lift his shoulders. Also today he seemed off on his left rear similar to the way he was going a couple of years ago when his other saddle was hurting him. So......looks like he needs a new saddle. For now the aussie seems to be ok for him but I can't ride in that one on the trail....hurts my butt. It may be time to look into a custom saddle.

Apr 30: Marsha rode Dodah and I rode Maisey in the forest yesterday with the Tuesday group. We had a pretty large group and we took some different trails and just had the best ride! It was soooooo beautiful in that forest, everything so green, a nice cool breeze, good horses, and a fun bunch of ladies......it doesn't get any better!  At one point on the trail we were just walking along having just navigated some tricky gullys and bushwhacked some to get through a spot where the trail quit.....there were 5 of us as some others had gone on ahead.....when suddenly all 5 horses spooked all at the same time. It was like synchronized spooking! There was a deer in the brush. We were all laughing so much I'm surprised nobody fell off! I think we've invented a new olympic sport! What a great time, one of the all time best rides!

Friday: Good ride on Lex today in the arena. I used the aussie saddle and he was using his shoulders better I think. He was kind of unmotivated and I had to carry a whip but once I woke him up he moved out pretty well. I got some decent leg yields in gait, both directions. He was able to move easier nd stay in gait better yielding to the right today. I even got him to gait and do haunches in and shoulder fore......alterating between the two down the long side. I've worked so hard to strengthen his left rear that now he steps under easier with that leg so any lateral work that steps the left rear under is easier than the opposite side. So now I have to work the right side again. Then we cantered both directions. He is getting his leads consistantly now and can do large and small circles and he is so much better at staying in canter for longer.....yea! I think now I should start working on my seat and legs so he can start to refine his canter work. I still can't ask for much collection and he doesn't understand speeding up and slowing down yet which I imagine will come with collection. Today I did a few transitions from back to gait to help him use his back and rear end and that seemed to really help him gait. These kinds of transitions will also be great to do with the canter too. His canter is getting better but today Istill had to circle him before he started using his back. I sure would like to find a coach to help me with my riding. Poor Lex has to deal with his own lack of balance and coordination as well as me flopping around on his back. We are making progress but I think it helps to have another set of eyes to help me correct any position snafus. He sure was good though, cantered past the flaggs and over the blue tarp and only gave it a glance as we went over! Also I lifted the drag jug off the viewing stand and flopped it right under his nose. He startled and then sniffed it and that was all. Will be dragging that from the saddle soon.

Monday: Rode Lex in the Aussie. He was pretty unmotivated and I had to carry a whip but didn't have to touch him with it. We got some gait, not real pretty but at least not pacy. I backed him up until he got rpund and then asked for gait from that position and the quality was much better and he seemed to wake up some too. So I repeated that exercise a few times. Then I asked for canter. First from gait using my legs and seat in real exaggerated positions and he got each lead correctly with the first try. So then I set him up in exaggerated haunches in while walking, rocked my seat and he picked up the canter....correct lead, each direction!!!! Yippee! The quality could be better and there was no collecting him today other than riding him in circles, which I did but still....canter from walk in both leads. YEA!!!!!  Also I was able to guide him around different cones and do a lot of circle changes and he mostly stayed in canter. THEN I picked up the long cotton rope (without the blue jug) and from the saddle I tossed that rope in every direction, even over his head and dragged it back up to him. He gave it the harry eyeball but didn't move and once I let him touch it he was totally ok. So then I let it out far enough that it dragged on the ground and we walked a circle with the rope on the inside of the circle. Lex kept his eye on that rope just in case it tried to jump on him or something but after a few minutes we were walking all over the arena and he was ignoring the rope. Big big progress!
Then I saddled up Maisey. Used the bosal first to see how her brain was. She seemed pretty unconcerned and non spooky so I put the snaffle bridle on her. Wow! She was sooooooo soft! We just walked around making small circles and changing direction. Only once did she try to lean on the bit but I just waited on her and she decided to go ahead and give to it. Then I asked her to back and that was real soft too and her halt is right on....just lift the rein and stop riding and the brakes engage. She seems to bend so much better in the bit so I think her lateral work will improve with it. Also today there was not one bit of head shaking, none. No signs of resistance at all other than that one time she thought about not giving to the bit to the right. I will probably need to ride her quite a lot in the arena before I take her out on the trail with the snaffle. I need to be sure she understands what I expect of her and is very confident in that thing before I expose her to more unexpected and uncontroled conditions on the trail. If I need to correct her I do not want her to get scared of that bit.
All said, I think I am making amazing progress with my two "youngsters" since I got this arena. In a month Lex is getting his leads from a walk consistantly where I couldn't accomplish that in the previous 2+ years of riding him at Vivian's. The difference is being able to ride him several times a week for maybe just a few minutes and work on one new thing each time vs. once or twice a month for an hour and try to get too much done each time. It's a matter of having the time to let him progress at his own pace. Anyway, great lesson today.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 04:50:25 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2014, 06:32:17 pm »

Delivered my riding horses to Vivian today for boarding while we take a little trip. While there I thought I'd get a little ride on Amigo. Got him caught and saddled.....not even a hint of cinchiness even though I girthed him up rather quickly and without being particularly careful of his reaction. He was a good boy. Then while we were standing around catching up on gossip, I noticed one of his rear legs was swollen from hock to fetlock! He wasn't sore on it but I decided not to ride him anyway. Instead I put him in the round pen and worked at liberty. That little guy hooked on to me right away, yielded his rear end and came to me every time I asked! I think I only worked on that for maybe 10 minutes the last time I rode him and that was at least a month ago! We had figured he was a slow learner when we first started working with him but now I'm changing my opinion. I still think he needs his lessons broken up into little bits....tiny steps.....but he learns these tiny steps real quick and remembers! Vivian also thought he was one of those shut down horses that gets real unresponsive when overwhelmed. Vivian said he used to just lay down when she first started working with him in the round pen! I agree with this assessment but I also think the more he learns, the more confident he gets, the more he can absorb with each lesson. He is learning how to learn. And he is learning that he can move his feet! Today when I asked him to go out on the rail he took off in a beautiful trot....not at all rushy or frantic....just relaxed and forward. I sure like this little guy. Also today he was again quite stiff on his right side. When I asked him to flex and give his head to the left he came around and gave me two soft eyes with no more pressure than the lead resting on my open palm. To the right he first tried to move his feet. When that didn't work he did bring his head around but only one eye. That eye was soft but I wanted two soft eyes and his ears level so that he is softening at the poll. I finally got this but had to hold the lead with a closed hand and wait quite awhile until he could give all the way. I did have the halter positioned pretty high on his face where in the past I have had it lower on his nose so that could be why he took so long to give to the pressure. Still he needs to get better with this. It's not like he's resistant either. It's more like he just isn't used to moving his neck this way and it feels difficult for him. While it took awhile for him to soften and come around, at least he didn't try to pull to the left so that is an improvment from the first lessons. He is going to need a lot of bending exercises to the right. I should flex him like this in a halter every time before I bridle him. Then flex him in the bridle before I get in the saddle and again before I ask him to move his feet. At this point I probably can't do too much of this as long as I insist he keep his ears level and flex at the poll. Once he gets consistant I won't ask for two eyes. I'm only doing that now to teach him he can look at me and not be afraid.

Sunday moms day: we're in Canada! A little vacation, having a great time but I miss my poodle :-|  We're doing the train from Seattle to Banff Canada. The company we booked through is Rockymountioneers. I had misgivings when our vacation had a rough start trying to fly out of Houston....flight canceled and much much snafu, all weather related and nobody's fault, just bad timing.  BUT once we finally got to Seattle and the Rockymt people took over......my gosh! What a well organized and considerate tour company!!! I can't say enough good things about them. We are only on our third day out of 7 with them and so far they have exceeded expectations. If things fall apart and go down the tubes I'll tell about it here but so far.....two thumbs up!
On a horsey note......I am so proud of my little Scarlett horse. She belongs to my friend Marsha and she had major issues when Marsha bought her....to the point of being so dangerous Marsha had to quit riding her until I spent two years undoing all the bad stuff and teaching her the basics of being ridden. It's been a long haul with the little girl. I love love love that horse but she was seriously screwed up when M got her. This weekend Marsha rode her in a trail obstacle clinic....first clinic for both of them. I wasn't there but I heard they did great and made it through all obstacles until the last one when another rider failed to watch what she was doing and ran into Scarlett and scared her nearly out of her skin. I hear she did at least one levade. Marsha stayed on and Scarlett got her brain back almost as quickly as she lost it, came right back mentally and they finished the last obstacle. This was their first clinic, first ride over obstacles, first ride out of the arena and first ride with a bunch of strange horses. Other than that one spook Scarlet was as good as could be. I'm so proud of both her and Marsha!

Wed: the train trip through the Rockies was real nice. Lotta booze! We met some nice people but we also met some snobs. One real snobby couple in particular......I think I scared them! Ha! Since we got off the train we have run into them at every hotel we've stayed at! This evening we ran into them again and they were much nicer. I guess maybe they just needed to figure out I wasn't going to do anything too outrageous! We've had such fun but I miss my poodle! Tomorrow we get to tour the "castle" in Banff. It's such a cool building, very Harry Potterish, supposed to be haunted! Could be, the building is sure spooky enough. We stayed there last night and I can say we never saw a single ghost and the room was very plush and comfortable. Staying at Lake Louise tonight.....also a very very plush hotel. I'm getting seriously spoiled! Did I say I miss my poodle? Oh and the Rockymountaineer tour company did finally screw up. 99% of the trip was perfect and exceeded expectations but our arrival in Banff was a total snafu. Nobody seemed to have the slightest idea where our luggage was and how we were supposed to get from train station to hotel. Turns out our rental car was at the station and we were supposed to pick it up but no one told us! Instead they told us to get a cab to the hotel. When we called the car rental place this morning they were pissed because they had waited for us. All very screwed up all because the guy on the train whose whole job was to get people to their connections had no clue. The
Avis guy wanted his name which I was happy to supply. Heads will roll. Lew will write a letter to the head office too. What a shame because up to that point that company had my unqualified two thumbs up. Now....one and 1/2 thumb.

Sunday: Got home from our trip yesterday and first thing I did was feed the oldies. They haven't been getting fed while we were gone, just pasture. Chad checked on them every few days. In the week we were gone they shed off the last winter hair and are looking real good for old farts. Fat and shiny! So I decide to feed them and dang if Roger didn't choke! Man I have never had so much trouble with horses choking! In 60+ years of owning horses I've only had 2 choke and now in the past 6 months....4! I thought it was the senior diet but this time was with the feed I've used for years. Sigh. Poor Rog. He coughed up about a gallon of gooey saliva, waited awhile, coughed up some more goo, belched a lot, crimped his neck a few times, blew some more goo out his nose, but gradually seemed to get more comfortable. I left him penned up for an hour with some water and when I went back out he was looking for more food. Dork. When he was able to swallow some very mushy soaked feed without any trouble I turned him out. By then he had the sparkle back in his eyes and seemed totally ok. So now I have to go back to soaking everybody's feed. What a PITA! At least when they choke on pellets it usually resolves quickly.....except for when Maisey choked....she is such a pig. Speaking about Maisey....she is worse than Dodah about peeing in the trailer! Literally she doesn't give me 30 sec to get her out before she cuts loose. Dodah at least gives me enough time to get him unloaded as long as I'm quick.
I get Lex and Dodah tomorrow, and I may get to ride Amigo too....looking forward to it!
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 08:11:29 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2014, 03:05:25 pm »

I finally got all my horse buddies home. Yea. Tuesday I rode Maisey with the "group". She was really fun. That little toot has taken to jumping any log that is greater than 12" in diameter. She sits back, picks up her front feet and sort of hangs there for a second, then hops over. It's a hoot! She is so strong in her rear end she can hold that half rear for quite awhile and it feels like she's deciding how to make the jump. I haven't tried to canter her up to a jump yet, not sure she would know what to do as it seems to take her some time to figure out how to get over. Then we had to bushwhack to find a crossing through a small gully. A tree had fallen over our old crossing so we took off through the underbrush to find a new one. We finally found a spot where the banks weren't too steep but at the bottom of the gully there was running water that had cut a narrow channel. A couple of riders in the group were hesitant to cross because they thought their horses would jump, and sure enough they were right! Big bolty jumps. It scared one of the riders but she stayed on. Maisey picked her way down the near bank, stepped over the water and walked up the far side like a pro. I was very proud!
Rode Lex today in the arena. I set up a new pattern with cones.....4 squares. Picture a big square cut into 4 smaller squares. You start in the middle and always turn in the same direction until you've gone around all four squares, then you change direction. This can be done at a walk, trot, or canter. Maybe gait too but I didn't try that. It's a good exercise to teach the horse to rate because there are some longer straightaways and then lots of turns. I started him at a walk but once he got to bending real well, I started changing things up. I'd ask for gait on the long parts, slow to a walk on the turns and short sides, sometimes stop and have him do a corner by doing turn on forehand or turn on haunches. Made him drop his head before every transition. He got pretty supple doing that but was also pretty unmotivated so I picked up a whip and asked him to gait the perimeter. His gait was ok but kind of flat, certainly not spectacular. So I decided to wake him up some more by cantering. It took a bit of encouragement at first but he did finally get in a canter....technically a canter but pretty crappy. So then I did some shoulder fore down the long side then haunches in and asked for canter and got a much better canter. My problem was my hips were killing me. They tend to "pop" out sometimes and the only thing I can do is stop and twist to get them back in.....getting old sucks. I was almost ready to give up but then I realized I was tensing up and thought that was causing the problem. So I made a conscious effort to relax my legs, open my hip angle, and sure enough not only did my hips stop hurting, Lex was cantering much better. So much better that I decided to try some simple changes. I have never tried this before.....I've just been happy to be able to canter full circles! So anyway on the first try he was able to change after only 3 steps in gait coming down from canter. He did this in both directions and I repeated several times because I couldn't believe we were doing so well! He consistantly got his lead changes within 3 strides! Wowsa! I felt like if I could get my timing better he would be doing flying changes! Sooooo cool! THEN to top it off, I asked for gait and got the most beautiful round walky gait. I could really feel his back come up and he was really using that back. Hoo wee! So then, I decided to see if we could carry the flag. I picked it up, kind of flagged him around his head and behind and then we walked off. He was totally cool, walking along with me flopping that flag everywhere I could think of....over his head, under his neck, under his belly, over his butt.....on both sides. I got not so much as an ear twitch. Great,lets see what he does with the rope. Put up the flag and picked up the rope. This is a 20 ft white cotton lunge rope. I threw it out on both sides while we were standing still. No reaction. I threw it in front of him on both sides and dragged it back.....no reacting. So I threw it out, about 15 ft and we took off walking. Actually I had him side pass at first so he could watch the rope but he seemed to not care so I straightened him out and away we went. Did this on both sides. Then I threw it in front of him again and asked him to back up. That got his attention but he didn't spook, just watched the rope real close. I did that several times until he would back up however far I wanted and not care about the rope. Yea! Progress!
I plan on taking him out on the trail tomorrow or the next day for another trail lesson. Boy if I can get him where he's not crazy to head home and can sanely go at any speed out on the trail, he will be some kind of horse! I think we're gonna get there.
As for Amigo. Change of plans. There is a trainer near Vivian that trains in the tradition of Ray Hunt and the Dorrence brothers. Viv knows him and thinks he's very good. So I think I'm going to send Amigo to him for at least 30 days. I've been thinking about it a lot and I think I'm just getting too old to be starting a colt, especially one with issues. I could do it but it would take me a long time and also I don't think I want to chance getting hurt. Training fee probably cheaper than hospital bills. If he will get him going forward, turning and stopping with confidence, I can do the rest. If he can get him out on a few trails, all the better. That will depend on how much ground work he feels is needed before he rides him. I know he has holes in his ground work, just don't know how many. This is NOT a gaited trainer. I want this horse trained to be a great riding horse first. If he gaits under saddle, great. Or I can develop his gait later if he seems to have the ability. I believe a lot of these horses are pushed to gait before they are physically mature enough. Can lead to all kinds of problems. And if he doesn't gait....oh well. If he ends up as good as I think he will, some one will get a great horse.

Fri 23rd: Ah....another change of plans. I decided to go get Amigo. We had to pick up the big trailer and Sue has agreed to take Blue so I decided, why not. Just bring Amigo back with the trailer, will save a trip, and I can work with him while we wait until the trainer can take him. He loaded right up and rode the 2 1/2 hours just fine but when we got home he decided he was not getting out of that trailer! He did start to back out but the big step down scared him and he climbed back in. The thing is he was so mannerly about it. When he climbed back in he didn't crowd me at all. He stopped when I told him to and backed when I told him to, he just couldn't step down. So against my will, and in the interest of time, I let him turn around. He still couldn't make the step! He would look down, paw, hang a foot off the edge, but he could not step down. So I just held on to the lead rope not pulling on him, just holding, and let him work it out. He never tried to turn back or pull against me and finally he stepped down.....very calmly and politely and slowly. I half expected him to take a flying leap but he didn't. What a sweet heart. He even seemed surprised he didn't get hurt by stepping off that cliff! I continue to think this horse should never be pushed, at least not while he's trying to figure something out. "Making" him do something just shuts him down. "Allowing" him to do the thing teaches him to think and gives him confidence. It's a theory. I really like him. He is so different from Lex. While Lex craves human interaction, Amigo is very aloof, sort of like Dodah was when I first got him. Like Dodah, Amigo seems to be an old soul.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 06:46:27 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2014, 07:07:37 am »

And so the adventure with Amigo begins! Yesterday after all the stress of the move and unloading I pretty much left him alone until later in the evening when I haltered him and did a few flexes. He was stiff to the right but after only a few minutes he started coming around easily. This morning I turned him into the arena while every body else got fed in their stalls. Amigo looked around, tried to visit with the other horses until Blue tried to attack him, then he took off in the most beautiful trot. He floats. His canter is beautiful too. He is definately a back mover, so round and elevated.  So then I got the halter so I could feed him out of a bucket while the other guys ate in their stalls. It took me 20 minutes! Too many distractions! But he finally settled and I got him caught and fed and turned him loose again in the arena. When I went to catch him to put him back in his stall he was real good and I got him right away. Before I put him up I tried a few flexes and he came around on both sides with just the lead rope laying in my open hand. No pressure at all, just following the feel. Good stuff. Tomorrow I'll try the flexes with the snaffle bridle. After watching him move today I'm thinking that if he doesn't want to gait he just may become my dressage horse. With what I've learned from Lex, I think I can get him going pretty well without screwing up his natural ability. Sure would be fun to try. Ok now I'm getting ahead of myself! Maybe I should just concentrate on getting him going under saddle first!

So after having a bit of an issue catching him in the arena this morning I figured he'd be difficult to catch once he had the run of 11 acres. I was not wrong! I spent a good 45 minutes walking him down around noon today. We walked nearly the entire pasture.....well he trotted and cantered a lot of it, I walked. Finally he consented to let me pet him on the shoulder which I did and then left him. I should have left it as that but no.....I went back for another pet and got to walk another 30 min! But that time when I got up to him he allowed me to get my arms around his neck and get a good hug or two. Then I left him alone until 5 hrs later. This time when I went out there he let me just walk right up to him, pet his face and hug his neck! He's not an affectionate horse so the neck hug is just tolerated, not returned. This is one of the first lessons I do with a new horse. Nothing worse than not being able to catch a horse when you need to. Walking them down really works. I've never had one that needed to be walked down more than 3 times. Usually by then they are coming to me. This afternoon Amigo came to me part of the way and I had to walk up to him the last 20 feet or so.

Sunday 25th: well so much for Amigo being at the bottom of the pecking order! With Blue gone all the horses were quieter waiting for their food which is good. I expected Maisey to become herd boss and she seems to have assumed that position as she was the first one in line for food. What surprised me was Amigo was second in line! And nobody challenged his position. Wow. That kind of screwed up my feeding plans but I can adjust for tomorrow so no big deal.
While we waited for everybody to finish eating I decided to put the snaffle bridle on Amigo and do some flexes. He didn't much like the bit in his mouth and chewed for awhile but once I tightened the headstall a notch he got happier. So it appears he wants the bit just touching the corner of his mouth, no wrinkles, but also not dropped down at all like Lex wants his positioned. To each their own. He flexed real real soft today both directions both sides. All I had to do was lift the rein and that head came around. So then I touched his side to see if he would easily step under and yield his hindquarter. He did it with a very light touch on both sides! Still a little stiffer on the right but not bad at all. I think he'll be ready to try a little ground driving in a few days. I probably should lunge him a bit more on a line first to get him going forward, then maybe Sylvia can come over and help me get him started in the surcingle if I still think I need help. Will certainly go slowly with this at first and will start out in the little square pen but I want to get where I can drive him in the arena....walk, trot in circles, change direction, halt and back before I get on him again. And considering how inexperienced I am at driving, I may start him in a sidepull so I don't take a chance of yanking on his mouth. Will see how it goes.

26th: A quick note about Lex. I rode him yesterday in the arena. I used Marsha's Imus saddle....16" regular tree I think. It fits him real well and I feel secure in it but I had a hard time using my legs. Could barely get him to canter, had some trouble getting his leads as quickly as the other day and just generally didn't feel as flexible in that saddle. Lex was pretty high because Amigo was vocalizing a lot out in the pasture and running around. I had to walk a lot of circles to get Lex's attention back on me and it took a good 30 min before I could start asking for canter. But my hips didn't hurt so bad. So not sure what I'm going to do about saddles. Maybe use the Imus on the trail and the aussie for training. By the way that technique of turning him away from the object of his attention, each and every time he got distracted, and then making him  do a small circle or bend around my leg, really works to get his attention back on me. It's much more effective than just walking in aimless circles and waiting for him to calm down. And forget trying to wear him down, that never works.

28th     Lex in arena today. I rode in the aussie saddle and again he felt much rounder from the get go. I actually got some decent gait early on and we did gaited shoulder fore both directions and he stayed in gait. Then I tried gaiting haunches in and he did that too! All I did today was gait, no cantering because he seemed to want to go into canter a few times rather than stay in gait....so I made him stay in gait the whole time. Also he was very pushy and not paying much attention on me when I first caught him. I've been very polite to correct this in the past but today I kind of decided he is old enough and trained enough to not do that any more, I'm really sick of him acting like a baby. So I got real big, started insisting he walk halt and back NOW! And FAST!!!!! I had him backing almost at a trot. Wow that got his attention for sure! When I got in the saddle he was very obedient from the first, didn't have to do any circling to get him focused.
Then I worked with Amigo. He is learning to accept fly spray on his back legs. Today he only tried to walk around a few times, then stood still. He is getting so soft in the bridle, backing to light cues with the reins and flexing on both sides. He is also getting much better yielding to pressure on his side, I can almost get him to sidepass now on both sides and his hindquarter yields and shoulder rollovers are much much better and very light. Right now I'm giving him about a 30 minute lesson every other day. I expect by next week I'll have him doing all this stuff while wearing a saddle. Once he's good with that it will be time to hop on him......gulp. I'm hoping I hear from the trainer I contacted before then, I'd sure rather have a younger  person ride him the first few times in the arena. Will have to see how this all works out.

Fri 30th: quick little lesson with Amigo this am. While the rest of the horses finished their feed I decided to mess with Amigo a little. Put the halter on and petted him real good, the I put a rope loop around one front foot and began to teach him to lead  by his feet. It took a good bit of pressure at first to get him to lift the foot but after awhile I could lift it and hold it. He never did try very hard to take his foot back either. Did that with both front feet then I looped a rear foot and lifted it. No problem. Did both rear feet. Easy. Next lesson will require help as I'll be teaching him to stop by a rear foot. I think this is real important because around here we have brambles. I can't count the times Dodah and Maisey have gotten caught by those things. If they're taught to stop when those rear feet get caught then you don't have a wreck when you're riding and it's usually pretty easy to reach down and cut them loose.
I also rode Lex for a short one. I gotta say I don't appreciate how well trained Lex is until I handle one like Amigo that is just learning. For all my complaining about him Lex is about as push button as they get. He would be perfect if he could just keep his brain between his ears on the trail. Sigh. Anyway today he was a good boy and I did some canter and even some small circles, large circles and simple changes. I put down some ground poles with the intention of starting to teach him to trot in an effort to get him to lift his front legs more. Well we didn't trot. Instead he gaited over them and gave a little hop at each pole. Whatever. His gait however improved after the poles so I guess they did some good. Also today he started reaching down while in gait. That's a first. I have been able to ask him to lower his head for a long time, and he would,  but that's not the same as him reaching down by himself and streaching while gaiting. This is good stuff, tells me he really is starting to use his back. Could have done more but that aussie saddle just kills my hips.  so, I thought since he's using his back more maybe it has changed shape again and maybe I can find another saddle that he'll like that doesn't kill me. I found an old cordura circle y that fits him pretty good but it's pretty old and not in great shape. Then I tried his laporte tree saddle. That thing should work for him, it fits pretty good, at least it doesn't appear to dig into his shoulders or loin. I have been using a supracor pad with it. Now I wonder if the pad is causing the problem....so tomorrow I'll ride him with the laporte saddle and a regular western pad and see how he goes. I hate to buy another saddle when I already have a tack room full!

Sat: Rode Lex this am in his laporte saddle with a thick western pad with fleece and he was much better! So maybe it was the supracor pad and not the saddle he was having a problem with. Got lots of nice gait today and cantered a bunch....no hip pain! Did some simple changes and then.....ta..da....flying change!  I wish I could take credit for that but I can't. I had asked for a simple change and he missed it so we were doing counter canter to the left and he did a flying change to correct. I did get a chance to feel the change so that will make it easier in theory for me to feel the timing when I start trying to do it on purpose. Then I led him while dragging the blue jug tied onto the saddle. He did one little spook at first and then was ok with it, even backing up while dragging it. Should be able to start dragging the jug from the saddle tomorrow. Then I put him in the bosal. He was fine with it once he figured out that he really did have to give to the left when I asked him to. However I just didn't like the way he moved in that thing. I expected him to be more inclined to reach down and lift his back but it was quite the opposite. He was much flatter, almost pacy in it. So I won't be using it on him for awhile. He's just now starting to use his back so I don't want to change things.

June 1: Today I got on Amigo for the first time since we moved him here. At Vivians I was almost to the point of being able to ride him without a handler on the halter rope in the round pen but I never had the chance to go solo because the day I had planed to do that was the day his leg was swollen. So now I have him here and he's a lot softer giving to the bit now and is generally more educated than he was at Vivians because I've had the chance to work with him daily for a couple of weeks. So I figured he'd be ready for me to get on and I was hoping we could take up where we left off at Vivian's. Weeeelllll   not so fast. First he is not used to men so having Lew handle the halter rope was a learning experience. Amigo was not so sure about that! Second, Lew is not a horse person so I have to just about tell him every move and then he's deaf as a stump so half the time he doesn't hear me....grrr. So long story short, after circling a bit, repositioning the mounting block a bunch and trying to get Lew to actively participate instead of standing there like a post, I finally got Amigo to stand still. Ugh. So all I did today was step into the stirrup and lay over his back  and pet him real good. Did that from both sides. Did it until he no longer offered to move, about 3 or 4 times on each side. Then I put him up. I figure the slower I go now with preparation the better he will be later on....it's a theory. And a darn good one too if it keeps me out of the hospital I say! We'll get er done it's just going to take some time. I keep reminding myself what my friend SolBritt says....never saw a horse get ruined by going slow!   Yep, it takes the time it takes, and...it's about the journey.

June 2: Another lesson with Amigo. I had Lew lead him around the arena, halt, change direction, halt, pet lower his head, etc until they were both comfortable with each other. I also had Lew lead him through several gates and just generally handle him and Amigo had plenty of time to figure out Lew is harmless. Then we went into the small pen and I got on. Today he stood stock still while I got on and off from both sides. I had planned on that being all we would do but Amigo felt nice and calm and seemed to want to get on with it so we walked a few steps. Lew's timing was late so it ended up that I directed Amigo to turn, walk off and halt! He has the turn part down and seems nicely responsive to my leg too although it's too soon to tell how responsive he will be. But the best part was when I asked for halt, he stopped! Yea! Who knows I may be able to solo by the end of the week! I can't wait to ride him in the arena.
I rode Lex too and I was able to drag the blue jug while mounted. He looked at it a little at first, then ignored it even when I let the rope out and let it bump against his legs during a turn. I hesitate to say.....but Lex seems to finally be gaining some maturity!
« Last Edit: June 02, 2014, 03:33:29 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2014, 02:56:48 pm »

Non linear learning....gives me a headache! Amigo was so good when I rode him several days ago. We were only in the small pen and Lew was in control of the halter rope but we were able to take several steps and halt nicely in both directions and he was very soft in the bridle. Today, not so much. We were able to walk a bit more but he got confused and wanted to put it in reverse when I ask him to go forward, he tried really hard to not give to the bit and totally didn't want to halt. Sigh. And Lew had no clue so he was interfering by holding the lead rope too tight and not having a clue how to walk with me. Also Amigo's brain was pretty much out in the pasture. So I got a couple of good turns, got him to finally give to the bit and didn't let his evasive tricks work and got him to stand and drop his head and called it a day. Then I took him for his first bath. He really hates being sprayed with bug spray so we've been working on that and he's getting better. I figured he'd also object to being sprayed with water too, and at first he did but shortly he decided it felt good and stood still to be sprayed all over. He has been especially touchy with his rear end but he settled and let me spray even on and between his rear legs and butt. So although the ride didn't go as well as I wanted we at least ended on a positive note and maybe now he'll be better with the fly spray. And hopefully the next ride will be better.

I'm thinking of taking a different approach with Amigo's training. While he is a horse that needs his lessons broken into little steps, he is also a horse that has no problem saying "no" and when he does that I have found that being patient and soft with him doesn't work as well as firming up and letting him know he must do what I ask. So far I haven't had to get real firm with him, it's more a change of intention than anything else. So with this in mind and knowing Lew has no clue as an assistant, I've decided to just get on Amigo in the small pen without a helper on the lead rope. I can let Amigo walk where he wants to go, begin to teach him to turn and halt without confusing him with conflicting signals from a lead rope, and when he says "no" , I can more easily correct him and get as firm as I need to. At this point I doubt he'll do much in the way of bucking and I will free lunge him in there with the saddle on first so if hitting the rails with the stirrups scares him, at least I won't be on him. Also I will not get on him if his brain isn't right there in the arena with me. It's a theory, we'll see how it works.

Sat June 7 I think. Well it worked! I:-)did my first solo ride on Amigo today! YIPPPPEEEEEE!!!!!! He was great.
So the steps leading up to this momentous occasion: 1st.... He had been very aloof since I got him. Not exactly disrespectful just not involved. So this morning I spent some time looking for his itchy spots and found 2 good ones. Then I free lunged him in the little pen and every time I asked him to come in to me and he responded correctly, he got some good scratches. Boy it didn't take long for him to start looking for that reward. Once he showed me that he was interested in what we were doing I turned him loose. Step 2.....three hours later I caught him, saddled him and lunged him again in the pen, looking for him to ask to come in and get his scratches which he did. He also started following me around real well. I asked him to walk and trot and change direction. That went well so on to step 3. Put the bridle on without reins and again free lunge him. He was attentive and responsive and coming in to me so at that point I had Lew get in the pen so I could teach him how to free lunge Amigo. My hubby is pretty smart and picked up the subtles of body language real quick and had no problem getting Amigo to go, turn and come in. It was great. Finally, step4.....I got on. I had the bridle with reins, of course, and a halter over the bridle without a lead rope. Lew held the horse by the reins while I got on. When I was ready Lew turned loose but stayed in the center of the pen by the mounting block. I flexed Amigo once to each side and he was soft so I asked him to walk off. Lew was to follow our movement with his body and when I was ready to stop Amigo, Lew was to ask him to stop using the body language I had just taught him. It worked like a charm. Amigo walked off with confidence. It was easy to get him to go to the rail and away from Lew. When it came time to change direction I turned him in toward Lew and at first he got a little confused but I just waited on him and pretty soon he figured it out and did a beautiful turn on the haunches! Stopping wasn't quite so beautiful. It was taking him several steps to get the idea and then he had to push against the bit before he could stop. I started using my whole body to signal the halt....real exagerated lean back, sit deep then lift and alternate reins until he stopped and immediately release and pet. He finally did a sort of decent halt so I called it a good lesson and got off.
There was no hint of rushing, no resistance and no fear. He was a good boy!
Finally, I think I got the bug spray issue resolved. The bath I gave him the other day seems to have convinced him that spray on his legs was not going to make his feet fall off! Today he hardly reacted to the bug spray and when I gave him his bath after our ride, he seemed to really enjoy it and stood still, even when I sprayed his hinny and between his rear legs. WooHoo!!!!!!!.

Sunday: Second solo ride on Amigo. Wow! He is really coming along. Today we went through all the steps again just like we did yesterday but we did each step faster and he seemed to be almost bored! So quickly I hopped on and he was ready to go. He walked off and almost felt like he wanted to gait for a few steps but he didn't and I didn't encourage him to go faster. We did several circles to the left, changed direction, went several circles to the right, changed direction.....rinse, repeat. Today I wanted to do some direction changes from a halt as well as while walking. He did both and never seemed to get confused. Only once did he have a question when I asked for a turn and it was in a place where there was not a lot of room. He needed to do a turn on the haunches to get it done. I set him up and waited and within a very short time he figured it out and stepped his shoulder over just a sweet as could be and walked off. What a sweety. He seems to have a lot of try. Also his halts were the best yet. I'd say about 50% of the time he halted off my seat and the rest of the time I needed the reins but didn't have to cue him much and he was halting much quicker and with his head down. When I was ready to end the ride I asked him to drop his head. He had no clue what I wanted so he tried backing up a step. I decided that was a pretty good guess on his part and let him have it. Once I got off I tried to cue him to drop his head by "twirling" his head using the reins. I have done this before with my hands on his face but never with reins. He got a little upset at first but I just kept gently rocking his head back and forth until he finally dropped it and I rewarded him. He'll need a few more repeats of that lesson but I sure was pleased with him today. Once he understands what you want he is happy to comply. I think he is going to be one that enjoys learning. Total lesson today, about an hour.

June10, Tuesday: Another lesson with Amigo....new name Easy.....I hope that's prophetic! I had every intention of riding him today but as I was leading him to the barn I noticed the little trailer was still hooked up to the truck and remembering what a time I had unloading him when we brought him home, I thought I'd give him a little refresher course in loading and unloading. 45 minutes later I still can't get the bugger to back out of that trailer! It took me a minute to get him in the dang thing but he would not back out. I got him so far as to step out with one rear foot and then he'd climb right back in. Not at all panicked but very determined to not fall off that cliff! So finally I let him turn around and he stepped down. Sooooo....change of plans. Instead of a riding lesson he got backing up lessons. First backing lightly on flat ground in the arena. Then over ground poles, then over raised poles, then over several raised poles and finally over a blue tarp. He was not too happy about all the backing and a couple of times he tried to not do it but a gentle tap on the chest with a dressage whip got him back in the mood. Then I took him to the ramp behind the arena that leads down to the pasture. None of the horses have ever been on that ramp. There is a gentle grade and a steep grade....really steep. I backed him down the gentle grade twice. He really didn't want to do it the second time but again I just tapped him on the chest and he decided to do it. I figure to do this with him several times until he can back downhill easily without needing to stop and without getting at all worried. Then I'll back him down the really steep part. Once he can do that, backing out of a trailer ought to be easy.....it's a theory.

Ok changing his name to Easy may be a bit premature......he will stay Amigo for now.

Thursday: At some point I'll get bored with writing down every little thing I do with Amigo but for now I'm so enamored with how good he is I just have to record everything. Maybe it'll help someone else with their young horse, after all it doesn't always go as smoothly and progressively as those fancy clinicians would have you believe. In between starting and finishing is a whole lot of "what do I do about this?"  So, yesterday's lesson: I did very little prep work, just saddled him and hopped on. The plan was for my assistant, Marsha, to remove the mounting block and herself from the pen so I would have more room to do serpentines. That didn't happen. One of the other horses decided to come watch and was hanging out by the gate and Amigo was focused on him. Amigo was also worried about the bit....chewing a lot..so he was pretty distracted. Marsha tried to leave but Amigo seemed too insecure so she stayed in the pen in the center but didn't do anything. It took a couple of passes by the other horse before Amigo stopped trying to go over there for a visit but once he understood we were there to work he got all business like. Correcting him was very easy, just had to keep asking him to walk on. I did have to kick him a little to get that done but once he started walking he was good. I have noticed that once he gets the idea to walk he does so without me having to nag him to keep him going. Several times I have attempted to do an "allowed" halt where you pretty much stop riding and drop the reins and allow the horse to come to a stop. He doesn't stop! Just keeps on walking. I have to actually lift the reins and lean back and say whoa and then he halts real easy. I guess the allowed halt will have to come later. Turning is getting a lot easier, even in tight spaces, and he is beginning to feel more confident with carrying a rider.
As for bug spray....today he got sprayed while tied up to the blocker tie and didn't even think about pulling back or trying to get his rear end away from the spray. After his lesson I gave him a bath and he really seems to love that! He stood stock still and I sprayed him with a pretty strong stream of water, not the light mist I had been using. So much progress there. No work with the trailer but I did back him down a little hill and he had no trouble with that.

Friday: did figure 8's today. His halt is getting real real soft. With the figure 8's in that little pen we had to do some sharp turns and he had some issues with that but I just set him up and waited and he would figure it out. He also offered a faster walk today, almost but not quite a flat walk. I didn't ask for more, just allowed him to go at his own speed. The idea is to let him figure out how to carry a rider at a faster walk in his own time. If I try to push him into it, that might scare him. He was calm and seemed totally ok with the faster walk. I figure soon he'll offer a trot. Then I did some flexes in preparation for teaching the one rein stop. Lew was in the pen with us but I think next time we won't need him in there.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 05:51:56 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2014, 04:27:23 pm »

There is a lady that lives down the road from my place that gives clinics on working equitation  every few weeks. I was finally able to take Lex to her clinic this morning. Working equitation is basically trail obstacles done with an English/dressagy flair. Kind of silly in my opinion because good riding/horsemanship is good for any discipline regardless of the saddle you ride in or the outfit you wear.....but I digress. Anyway I took Lex and he done me proud!!!  He was such a good boy today, almostly totally levelheaded and he tried real hard to do every obstacle. The gate, the bridge, the cowboy curtain, the "scary round pen with survey tape fluttery decor" the L back up  .....none of those scared him and he pretty muchdid them perfectly, except for the trotting part.....when you are advanced you're supposed to trot....or canter...through the obstacles. We walked. Except I did get him to the point he could flat walk most of them. The one that got him was the hulu hoops. Not no way, not no how was he going to have anything to do with those things! So this afternoon we went to wally world and I got the kind of hulu hoops that have bb's in them so they rattle. Lex has no idea how his little world is fixin to change. He'll be walking around with those things around his neck by the time I'm through.....I hope. At least I know that even though he is able to drag the blue jug around and also carry a flag, he needs a lot more exposure to stuff like that. The last thing we did was ride through a pretty deep pond. The water was chest high on Lex. The idea was to trot through and it was a big area, maybe 50 yards long. Poor guy couldn't quite trot and he couldn't gait in that deep water so he sort of lunged/cantered/scrambled through it. It was not pretty!but it was fun and that's the farthest he's ever gone through water without trying to lay down. So good boy. He got lots of complements today too so that was good. It's nice to know that all the hard work I've done to get him trained is finally paying off!

Sunday: Haha! Hula hoop day. Amigo got his lesson this morning while he ate. I figured he would be calm about the whole thing and he was. He trotted around the little pen for maybe a minute then stopped and let me put those hoops all over his back, butt, head, neck, under his belly.....I put them everywhere except hang them on his neck, only because he wasn't wearing a halter and I had no way to keep him from putting a foot through the hoop.
Lex got his lesson this afternoon, in the little pen. I sat on the mounting block in the middle of the pen and bounced the hoops on the ground so they made noise. Lex took off in a mad dash and ran for a couple of minutes, then stopped and turned toward me. His reward was I stopped bouncing the hoops. Every time he looked at me, lowered his head, or took a step toward me I'd stop bouncing. Within 10 minutes he was wanting to eat the hoops. At that point I could place them all over his body, over his head, under his tummy, etc. Then I climbed up on the fence so I could be above him and started the whole process again. In just minutes he was coming up to me and letting me bounce the hoops on his back and head,hang them off his ears, and toss them in the air over his back. I knew he was going to be afraid of them but I had no idea he would get over it so fast and to the point I could throw them over his back like that! This is the first time I've tried desensitizing him this way and wow am I impressed! Always before I had him in a halter so I could keep him from running off. This time, no halter. He could run as much as he needed to in that little pen and when he stopped it was his idea, not me making him, and I think that made the difference. Anyway it worked like a charm. Will be interesting to see how well this will transfer to the saddle.

Monday: Both boys got hula hoop refresher exposure this morning after their breakfast. Amigo, who is aloof and not the curious type at all actually came to me as I bounced the hoops while sitting on the mounting block. I'm trying to encourage him to be more curious and also trying to get him more interested in being with humans. His reward was lots of scratches under his cheek on his itchy spot. He got to following me and the hoops all over the pen to get those scratches and he totally ignored the hoops after the first sniff. I could hang them off his ears and lay them on his back and he totally didn't care. Lex who is much more curious and a total mommas boy came right up to me as I bounced the hoops. His reward was the hoops stopped bouncing for a minute. Very quickly he let me put the hoops all over him but I had to work up to it, I couldn't just sling them on his back like I did with Amigo. Lex let me put them on his back and hang them on his ears and all the other spots but he wasn't totally ok with it. He kept his eye on those hoops just in case I should lose control of them and let them attack! Still, for him to hold still like that in spite of being mildly worried I count as a win. A few more lessons like that and he should be totally ok.

June 20: Interesting lesson on Lex today. Got some decent,canter departs but had more trouble going to the right. He can get the right lead but just doesn't use his back as well going on that lead....canter is more 4 beat and flat. I'm getting to really be able to feel when he starts using his back at the canter, there is a lot more lift and he just naturally collects.....a little. Riding in his laport tree saddle so my hips don't kill me. Carried the hula hoops all over the arena with no problem. Soooo I tried picking up the garocha (sp?). Mine is a 6ft piece of 1 1/2 inch pvc with a flag attached to one end. Not exactly the real thing but it'll do for now. Anyway he did real well even when I smacked him in the face with the flag! By accident. Sort of. But....what I think I learned is he will gait real nice....does a little run walk very nice and round with his head low and bobbing if I ride him on totally loose reins. I have to have no contact. He can stop, back, and immediately move into that gait as long as I don't try to get in his mouth. As soon as I shorten the reins to, say, be ready to control him in a spook, he goes hollow. Sigh. Well I guess I'll take it for now but at some time he's going to have to learn to collect when I want to, not just when he's all high for whatever reason. Also today all the horses were goofy and Lex was very high when I first caught him. He got real worried tied in the arena and wouldn't lower his head to take up the bit. I had all of that baby horse behavior out of him I can stand so today I yanked his head around to me when he looked away and I made him lower that head and keep it turned toward me while I asked him to take up the bit. Amazing what a little discipline will do! He got much calmer and attentive after that. And I left him tied up until he quit being a spaz but that didn't take too long.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 02:09:54 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2014, 09:14:12 am »

My last ride on Amigo was a week ago so today I expected him to be a little rusty and he was. During the last ride I tried to do figure 8's in the small pen while Lew stood in the middle....didn't work too good. I think all I did was get Amigo confused! So today he seemed unsure and hesitant when I first got on, he kept stopping every time I asked him to turn. I was trying to start teaching one rein stops but could never get him to actually turn before he stopped! So I decided he needed some work doing turns while still walking so I had Lew take the mounting block and himself out of the pen and me and Amigo started just walking around the perimeter until he could keep going without stopping every few feet. Once he kind of loosened up and was walking with a bit more confidence I started gently asking for figure 8's while trying to keep him moving. He finally was able to do a few in each direction smoothly so I quit. The only time I asked for a halt was at the end of the ride....he seems to have halting down pretty well now. The problem is keeping him going forward! Once he does get going he has a great walk and he doesn't need a lot of nagging to stay in a nice forward walk either, it's just that he was so confused I think is why he kept stopping. His behavioral history is that he shuts down when he gets confused so it makes sense that he kept stopping today. Anyway by the end he was feeling a lot better, more relaxed and free with his body. Another thing he did today was keep stretching his head down. This is a good thing. He never pulled on the bit, also a good thing. He would stretch down and when he hit the end of the reins he stopped stretching and brought his head back up. I ride him with totally loose reins with my hands very far forward and wide apart so my signals are as clear as I can make them and he gets immediate release when he gives to the bit. A few more rides like this in the little pen and we should be ready to go into the arena. ( but only when he is consistantly forward and relaxed, turning and halting and totally understanding my signals with no confusion ) But before we do that I need to fit him with a better saddle. Right now I'm using an Imus saddle but he's gained some weight and it doesn't fit him so well. I think I'll try Maisey's laport tree on him....semi qh bars and wider, should sit down on him better.

Years ago Bobbie told me she never trains a young horse to back up because it kills their forward. She waits on that until they are going forward in all gaits and then only backs them a few steps slowly. I thought she was nuts! I've seen so many dressage horses that just have no idea about backing and I consider this a much needed skill. Of course all the horses I've ridden lately have had too much go, so backing them helped slow them down. But now I understand what she was talking about. I think Amigo needs to learn going forward with confidence before we ever try backing up. If I teach him to back up right now he is going to confuse backing with halting and that would not be good. Interesting. Well this is why I agreed to train him in the first place, to see what I could teach him and to see what he could teach me! So far I'd say we're about even!

Monday: Rode Lex in the arena again on Saturday when Patty came over with her new horse. He was totally fantastic! He stayed calm while I helped Patty with her horse, he really acted like a mature well trained horse! And he gaited so nice when I asked for it on that loose rein. I think for now that is the key. Then when he starts getting more animated for whatever reason he starts to collect himself and then I can pick up the reins and he is sooooo soft. Boy what a great feeling! I wish everybody could get a ride like that, it's what dreams are made of.

Thurs: Just a short lesson with Amigo today. I've been thinking for awhile that he's never been allowed to cut loose while wearing a saddle. Lots of babies will buck like crazy when they have a saddle on and try to canter. I cantered him once in Vivian's round pen and he did a little crow hop but didn't have room to really let go. So today I saddled him and after doing a little ground work in the small pen I took his halter off and let him  loose in the arena. He took off trotting and checked out all the ground poles and jumps and then started cantering and then he did a great saddle bronc imitation! He bucked a couple of times before he figured out it was way too much work. Then I started moving him and when I asked him to come in to me he did. So then I'd send him off, make him canter, ask him to come to me, pet and rest and send him off again. His reward was a nice cool bath afterward. He was such a good boy! He never lost his mind even when bucking. He's just so darn calm! And after the first few bucks he gave it up and just cantered calmly.

Sat: Second unassisted ride on Amigo in the little pen. Lew still stood at his head while I got on but then removed himself and the mounting block. Today Amigo seemed a little unsure right at the beginning, he tried to take a couple of steps backward right after I got on. I just calmly asked him to go forward and he did and after just a minute or so he was walking pretty well and with a lot more confidence than last time. Today he didn't keep trying to stop but would walk calmly until I asked for a halt. So I decided to start working on one rein stops. I waited until he was walking nice and easy, then I'd slowly slide my hand down one rein, slowly lift up and he would flex around and stop within 2 or 3 steps and then give to the bit. He was sometimes a little heavy on the bit but not nearly as much as he used to be. I alternated between turning figure 8's while keeping a steady walk, and one rein stop. I'd say he did pretty well. One time I even turned him into the fence sort of like a slow mo rollback. He did it and only had to stop for a second to figure out what I wanted. Also I'm starting to use my legs in time with the rein cues and today I got a little mini leg yield, not sure though whether he knew what he was doing or just happened to guess right. After I got off I removed the bridle and turned him into the arena to see if he still wanted to buck with the saddle on in canter. Ha! All he wanted to do was walk over the jumps and play with the blue tarp! He did trot a little too but mostly he wanted to come to me....I guess he was anxious to get his post ride bath!
« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 10:29:14 am by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #22 on: June 30, 2014, 04:38:17 pm »

June 30, Monday: Whew it's hotter n blue blazes! I of course picked the hottest afternoon in weeks to work with Amigo on trailer loading and unloading. He has issues with backing off a trailer....no ramp....the step down scares him....a lot. So I've been backing him down embankments and he's gotten pretty good at that. He backs in hand real softly so the idea of backing is not the problem. Today I got him up on the bridge that Lew built for me to work the horses over. It has about an 8 inch drop off. He got up there real easy and then when I asked him to back off he tried to refuse but he did it after a few minutes and some scrambling. So I repeated that until he was totally comfortable with it. Then we went to the trailer. As usual he got on with the front feet, no problem. So I had him get on and back off with just his front end until that was no problem. Then I let him get all the way on. When I asked him to back up he went back until his rear feet were balanced on the edge and that was as far as he would go. This is a big horse, pushing him doesn't work so well. I'm not sure how I did it but I finally got him to step down. I should have quit then but noooooo! I just had to see if we could do it again. Grrrr! I finally got to see what Vivian told me about how this horse avoids stuff.....he tries to lay down! Goober. He decided he didn't want to get on that trailer any more and wasn't going to play any more. He started swinging his rear end to the side and leaning on the trailer real hard. Once he actually slipped and fell against the trailer door. He's passive aggressive. So I got my lead rope and started making him yield his hind quarters real fast. I got pretty hard with him and yanked him around some so he would figure out laying down wasn't going to work. Once he decided to stand up I got a dressage whip and he learned that when I tap him on the left side lightly while holding the lead rope and asking him to step forward, he dang well better do it or the taps will get harder. That lesson took a few minutes but by the end of that he was moving forward to a light tap. Then we went back to the trailer. He first tried to swing his butt and I made him yield over and he did that. Then he tried to refuse to step in the trailer and I got after him with the whip....all it took was a few light taps and waiting for him to decide I meant it and he stepped in with his front feet. I backed him off again petted and asked him to come back on. He got the front end and stopped. A few more taps and the back end got on too. Cookies and pets. The I asked him to back off. Again with the balancing act at the edge of the trailer. I tapped him on the chest....nothing. So I tapped him on one rear foot and he actually stepped down with that foot but then brought it right back up again. I let him rest for a minute....actually letting ME rest! Then I asked again. This time after some tapping, some pushing and more than a few threats to leave him in there all night, he backed out. This time he seemed less afraid, just reluctant. Cookies and pets and I put him up.
This horse's personality is about as far away from Lex's as you can get. I'd say he's closer to being like Maisey only not so spoiled. He really is passive aggressive too. He will flat lay down if he gets too confused or frustrated. Today I felt like he was as much confused as fearful.  It's a fine line between pushing him so far that he shuts down and letting him call the shots. I believe that confusion calls for the lessons to be broken into smaller pieces, which I did with all the backing up practice, but there comes a time, when you know they understand what you are telling them but can't do it for whatever reason, that you just have to get bigger and push through. And actually after 2 hours of this today I do believe he's starting to figure out what we're doing and I suspect he'll be fine after a few more lessons. One other thing though that I know he needs.....he really needs to be ponied so he can learn to give to pressure from the halter. He seems to lead well but that whole bit of not wanting to lead onto the trailer tells me he really isn't broke to lead. He also needs to learn to stand tied. I doubt he's ever laid back on the halter. I bet right now if he ever hit the end of that rope he dang near tear the barn down. Vivian doesn't believe in tying her horses up so if they get spooked or just decide to go graze all they have to do is pull a little and they're loose. I can't stand that! But I don't know that I can handle fixing that as big as this horse is. I may take him to that cowboy that Chad knows and let him do the deed.

Wed. Had a good ride yesterday on Maisey and she was pretty good about not being quite so buddy sour, of course it was 100% humidity and 95  degrees so nobody was wanting to move too fast!
I have a gripe and looking through the Dover catalog just now reminded me. I have a friend who likes to trail ride and also likes to take dressage lessons. She prefers riding with English tack. Nothing wrong with any of that, but, the last time I saw her I noticed her horse was wearing a snaffle bridle complete with a cavason. Out of curiosity and knowing most people that use them have no idea why the cavason is on their bridles, I asked my friend why she had that thing on her horse. Her answer was "it came with the bridle". Ok. So I checked it to see how tight it was. It was not overly tight and thatis good but then she told me the last time she had a lesson with Reinhardt......a very well known dressage trainer of German persuasion.... He tightened the cavison and told her to keep it that way so the horse can't get it's tongue over the bit. Hummm. Seems to me if a horse is getting it's tongue over a bit something about the bit or the horse's training needs to change. She and I discussed this. Her horse has never done the tongue over the bit thing so why in the world would you even think of tying her mouth shut by tightening the cavason?!? I suggested she remove that thing. She didn't. Instead she went to her regular dressage trainer and asked....."why do I need this cavason on my horse if she doesn't do the tongue thingy?" the answer this time was "if your horse gets it's bridle caught on something the cavason will keep it on" huh? I thought that's what the throat latch was for???!!!  It just makes me beyond crazy that so many people use equipment that they have no real understanding of what it's use is, they just do it because it's tradition or because it looks a certain way. In the instance of the cavason.....tying a horse's mouth shut prevents them from swallowing, keeps them from loosening their jaw, forces them to become tight through the poll, and encourages them to get above or behind the bit, tighten their back, ......and all this leads to a multitude of other issues. For the life of  me I can think of no good reason to tie a horse's mouth shut!!! Even a loose cavason prevents them from opening their mouths as much as they are capable of. Sigh. I need to go ride my horse and quit getting frustrated over stuff I have no control over. I guess some people will never get it. Oh and that Reinhardt guy was the same one that got all over my case for riding in shorts. Excuse me? If it's 150 degrees in the shade, and we're riding in an open arena, and I'm riding in a western saddle with fenders that don't rub my legs, and I'm post menapausal with a sensitivity to heat, who the heck is he to tell me I can't wear shorts? Just because they don't LOOK right? Oh and this is the same guy that told me to "gather up my horse, this isn't a western pleasure class" when I was letting him relax on a loose rein before the class.
Grrrrrrr. So when my friend told me the other day that Reinhardt was asking her when I was planning on taking another lesson with him, I told her that would happen when hell freezes over, or when pigs fly, whichever happens last!

Later, same day. Another trailer lesson with Amigo. Wow what a difference a day makes. He had all day yesterday to think about his last lesson and today he went in and backed out twice with virtually no issues! I needed to tap him on the side a little bit to get his rear end to step up into the trailer but it hardly took anything. Then backing out, he stepped back easily a couple of steps then he needed to stop and look, and I let him, then he continued on back. When I told him down, he searched for the ground with one rear foot, then backed off like a pro! Such a difference! He did once try the swing around and lean on the trailer trick but a sharp smack on the side got him back on his feet and that was the end of that. I am sure loving this horse. I think we'll need to practice this skill some more but I think he has the basic idea now that I will not back him off the edge of the world. Trust is a wonderful thing. Tomorrow I plan to ride him again. Depending on how well he does, the next step will be to panel off half of the arena and start riding him in there, first with Lew assisting. I don't expect him to have any trouble but I don't want to get ahead of his comfort zone so will go very slow.....little baby steps.

Thursday: Rode Amigo this morning. I am sure loving this horse! We were just in the little pen still but today I had Lew stand outside of the pen while I mounted. Amigo stood like a statue until I got all settled in the saddle and then walked off calmly when I told him to. Lew came in and removed the mounting block. We did some figure 8's and one rein stops. He never once tried to stop on his own but when I asked for the halt he stopped right away. I experimented a bit and found out he prefers to take his cue to stop off my seat! If I just cue with the reins it takes him a few steps to get the message but if I first sit deep and kind of sit back on my pockets and relax my seat, he usually stops before I even have a chance to cue with the reins. I tried to get a little leg yield today but he didn't understand.  Then I asked him to walk faster. This pen is very small and he really doesn't have room to move out well. He can trot but with a rider I think it's probably too hard for him to balance. So he sped up his walk just a little bit but it wasn't much and he seemed a little unsure of himself. When Vivian rode him the one time, it was when she asked him to speed up that he got scared and ran off with her so I plan to be very careful with that. He may offer a trot when I get in the arena and if he does I'll let him go a few feet and then slow him down. Will have to see how that goes. Great little lesson today tho!

July 6 Sunday. Amigo got another trailer lesson today. He walked right in, no tapping needed, backed right out, no hesitation! Yea! I think we have that issue pretty much fixed. Actually today I had to slow him down and make him back out one step at a time because he was thinking about rushing a little. So I had him come in, stand still while I move all around him and pet him all over, then back a step, then come forward again, then back two steps rest then come forward again. Repeat this a bunch then let him back all the way out and put him up. Yippee.
Amigo got 2 lessons today, I rode him this afternoon. Today I mounted up using the block but without having anyone in the pen with me and he was solid as a rock and walked off easily when I asked. He was a little reluctant today and kept trying to stop by the gate. When that didn't work he wanted to stop by where marsha was sitting. That didn't work either. I tried to do one rein stops but he was stopping when I just lifted a rein! Silly boy. So we mostly did a lot of turns and then I asked him to walk faster and I almost got him to amble but the pen is really too small for that. Then quite by accident he did a turn on the forehand! I was asking for a slow mo rollback and he did the tof. So I asked again and he did it again! Beginning to learn leg cues! I also started teaching turn on haunches by asking for smaller circles and timing my rein cue with his inside front foot. He did it pretty well for a first try. I used Dodah's saddle on him for the first time and it seemed to work ok. After I put it on him I turned him loose in the arena to let him buck if he needed to. All he wanted to do was follow me around. So no bucking. It was a very good lesson.
I think  I may have a solution to my training dilema.... How to transition Amigo from thr round pen to the arena without scaring him and without getting myself in the hospital. My friend Vickie who is a professional trainer has agreed to help me. Yea! I didn't want to send him off to a trainer because I know I can do this but I also know I'm no spring chick anymore and my balance and reflexes aren't as good as they once were....so yeah I'm chicken. Anyway Vickie will come here and we'll work with him together and she will give me pointers as she sees fit. I think she and I are pretty much on the same page so I expect it will be more a situation of her offering moral support than her needing to teach me stuff. That said I am totally open to suggestions! I can't wait to get him in a larger space. I hope hope hope he has the ability to gait under saddle, I've seen him do it at liberty just before he breaks into a trot.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2014, 06:14:41 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2014, 04:49:28 pm »

I think Amigo is just about ready to go into the arena. This morning we had several riders over, riding the obstacles in the arena. We got rained out of our regular Tuesday ride in the forest so everyone came over and we rode in the covered arena! Woo hoo!  Anyhoo, there were 6 horses milling around in there, some gaiting, some trotting, all going every which direction. So I thought.....take Amigo in there with all that confusion and see how he handles it! Well, the boy was totally unfazed! He kept his attention on me all the time and ignored all those horses. I was not riding, just leading him but still.... We walked over the blue tarp, backed through the L, moved hind quarters and forehand, played with the flag and hula hoops, and dragged the blue jug.
Then this afternoon I saddled him and rode him in the pen, just me and him....no Lew, not even outside the pen. So of course Amigo picked today to do his first spook! Maybe not having another human nearby made him a little less brave? Don't know, he sure didn't act worried. Anyway he spooked, did a spin....well sort of a half spin....jumped a few feet, but when I told him to stop, he did. And then he went on as if nothing had happened. If I survive the baby crazies I am going to love this horse. Also today I got a tiny bit of gait out of him...just a few steps.....while I had him on lead in the arena. He gaited a few steps then started trotting. It looks like it will be maybe a foxtrot? Hard to say since I've only seen a few steps at a time. He does want to have his head level or slightly down when he gaits and then when he goes up to a trot the head pops up and he does a real floating trot....looks bone jarring! Pretty but whew, too rough for this cowgirl.

July 17    Vickie came out and we had our first lesson with Amigo. This lady is the perfect person to help me train mi Amigo the way I want to do it! We are so on the same page! I went through my whole routine so she could see what I've done and what I need to change or add to the training routine. She was pleased with what I've done with him so far and only had some minor corrections to suggest on the position of my hands and the use of my legs to get him bending a little better, especially to the right. I told her about his tendency to push with his left shoulder and she said this is common. I've never experienced this, or at least I've never recognized the behavior in any of my horses but she was in agreement with my method of dealing with it. The interesting thing was she believes his being stiff on the left side may be also connected to his wanting to push with that shoulder. Could be. But I also think that I have worked him more on his right side because when I got him he was stiffer on that side and now he needs more work on the left. Sigh. It's always somethin! So for today she had me work on bending mostly. It's hard to do much more in that little pen but for now that's really what we need to do. She also wants me to work on his stop. We have a pretty good stop with the reins but she also wants him stopping off my seat and also from verbal cues. So the exercises I am to do are 1. Practice riding a square. At the corners get him bending softly and stepping into the turn with his inside front foot. Use my legs more for this. 2. Once we get the bending real soft and secure, start doing serpentines. In that little pen the turns will be very tight so he will almost be turning on the haunches, then he is to be very straight between turns. 3. Teach him 3 cues to stop....alternating reins, stop from my seat, and verbal cue to stop. Teach these separately.
I can't wait to get started! She really really liked him too. He is such a nice mover. I had described his trot and told her I thought it would knock my teeth out but she said it looked great and she thought it would be easy to ride. Easy for her to say, she's used to trotting horses. I haven't ridden a trot in 15 years....other than those few times I tried to trot Lex and then I dang near bounced out of the saddle! Ugh. And today he cantered a little bit in the arena so she got to see him do that too. He has a nice canter but it looks pretty big to me....long stride. I may need to eat my wheeties when I start riding that, at least until I get used to that stride.
So now I'm really jazzed. I think I'm going to enjoy working with Vickie for sure and if I can get mister Amigo trained the way I want to, well that will be so cool.

Friday: Today I started working on my "homework" with Amigo. To start getting him softer and bending better I spent some time on the ground asking him to step his inside front foot over when I ask with the inside rein. I think of it like I'm getting his feet connected to the reins....front feet first, later the rear feet. He remained pretty stiff to the left and tried leaning on the rein. I put up with that until it appeared he was taking advantage at which point I gave him a good pop with the rein. Just once. Then when he responded I gave him his release and pets. After that he was a lot more invested in giving to that rein. Once he kind of understood, I hopped on so that I could work some more on bending from the saddle. Timing is critical to teaching this. You have to feel when that inside foot is lifting so you can direct it with the rein. It took some time but he finally started figuring it out. He was already pretty bendy to the right so I worked mostly to the left. Also the changes Vickie suggested I make in my hands and leg cues helped. Of course it will take me longer to train myself than it will take Amigo to figure out what he needs to know! Once he started bending better I let him go more in a circle and started working on the stops. Rein stops are great.....alternating reins and all I have to do is squeeze them! So then I started working on the seat stop by sitting deep in the saddle, stop riding, and drop the reins. He didn't get it at all so I backed my cue up with squeezing the reins. More work needed on this of course.

July 22  Haven't ridden Amigo again but every morning after he eats and while we wait for all the other horses to finish, I work with him. I've been trying to show him how to move his front feet to the rein and he is starting to get the idea pretty well as long as I cue him correctly. Also I continue to softly flex him both in a halter and bridle. He's getting much much softer. I will ride him tomorrow and expect him to bend a lot better but we'll see. Also today while I was riding Maisey on the trail I practiced cuing with my legs with every turn of the trail. I need for that to become automatic so I can teach Amigo and not confuse him by being inconsistant. Harder to change my bad habits than it is to teach the baby horse new stuff for sure!

July 23  Well I rode Amigo this am. Boy non linear learning was in action today! First thing, the second I got the saddle on and snugged up he decided he really, really needed to roll! Huh? So off comes the saddle and suddenly he decides rolling isn't so important afterall! But I got lucky, one of the other horses decided to roll and that kind of reminded Amigo to do it too. So he got a good roll in and then re brushed and re saddled. Then he could not remember how to give his rear end and turn toward me in the round pen (square pen) so I made him circle until he was asking me to come in. I had to do that in both directions. Finally he was ready to ride so I hopped on. He seemed to be bending pretty good to the left today but was leaning on the bit when turning to the right so I stopped and spent quite some time trying to get him to flex to the right. I guess it took maybe 15 minutes before he would give to that right rein. He seems to like to lean on the bit and go to sleep! I just held steady pressure until he finally started experimenting by raising his head and chewing and then he gave. After that he started giving pretty well. I guess I will have to refresh this lesson each time I get on him for awhile until he forgets to lean on the bit. Anyway after all that, he actually started bending really well both left and right and stepping over with the inside foot too! Better to the left today but not bad on the right. His halt on the rein is excellent. All I do is lift the reins and he halts. I have started cueing with my seat just before I lift the reins and he finally halted off my seat. I also realized I was telling him to whoa today....didn't even realize I was doing that at first! Duh. I think working on a good halt in that little pen is not so easy since he likes to stop anyway and getting him moving is the bigger problem so I'm thinking I may have to just perfect the bending part, then go into the arena to finish the whoa part. Will do what I can and the next time Vickie is here maybe she'll agree he'll be good to move into the bigger arena even without the 3 whoas. After all I was riding Lex on the trail with barely one whoa and he didn't kill me.....thank God! I sure thought he was going to though.....not a good feeling and so not recommended.

Jul 24: Had a really good ride on Amigo today. I repeated the flexing exercises from the saddle before anything else and he was stiff on the left today! Sigh. But not as stiff as yesterday and he pretty much gave it up after only a few minutes of laying on the bit. Passive aggressive, just saying. So after we got that little part worked out he started bending really well. On previous rides when he would bend into a turn or corner he would over do it and keep turning so his square became some kind of oval. So today I tried releasing him the second he started the bend and it worked! He was coming out of the corners straight-ish. Not perfect but much better. Stepping over with the inside foot is getting better, I'd say he gets it about 50% of the time now. Rein halt is very good and today he halted off my seat twice so that's starting to become meaningful to him. Today I started teaching him to drop his head on cue. What I do is gently and slowly  squeeze the reins alternating but not pulling back. I direct the energy out to the side slightly. I only ask him to move his head an inch or so either way. I keep doing this until he drops his head then I drop the reins and pet. I've tried this before but today was the first time he figured it out. And finally we tried some serpentines. Vickie wanted me to do three loops in that little pen but right now I think that is asking too much so I just did two loops and he did pretty well....not real straight coming out of the turns yet but better than I expected, and he wanted to cut in especially going to the right. For some reason he wants to not walk into the corner where he eats. Nothing there but a mat but I guess he doesn't like it for some reason so will have to work on that.

Jul 26 Started to transition Amigo from the little pen to the arena today. I did my usual pre ride lunging but just until he was paying attention to me which took maybe 2 rounds. He was a little bit objecting to the saddle today and has started lifting a rear leg when I place the saddle on his back. It's almost like he has a fly bothering him but I'm not seeing any fly. So I spray him real good with fly spray just in case and then proceed with saddling but have been slowing down the cinch tightning part. He did that little backing up thing when I go to tighten. He's done that before and I just go with him. He is not tied up when he does this and after a few steps he stops and I pet him then tighten the cinch a notch. Then pet and rest. Usually at this point he's good to tighten the rest of the way if needed. I think this saddle doesn't fit him to well and that may be part of the problem but since I'm only on him for less than 30 min usually I figured it would be no big deal. May have to revisit that though. Then I hopped on and flexed him and he was darn soft both sides...yea! Practiced bending by doing the square and then some serpentines. Practiced the halt several times. Then Lew opened the gate and we walked into the arena. I only walked him maybe 10 feet and asked him to halt. He didn't stop right away, he leaned on the bit and took another step or two before he stopped which is what he used to do when I first started riding him. He was better about walking through the gate than I thought he'd be and he didn't seem scared exactly once we were in the arena but it did feel like he was looking for an excuse to take off, or maybe he was just waiting to see if he was going to have a reason to spook. Anyway I stopped him, sat there for a few seconds then got off and petted him and put him up. Good first arena experience for him. I plan to continue this schedule, decreasing the time in the little pen, increasing the time in the arena until we can start out the sessions in the arena. Also Vickie had recommended I walk him to the far corners at first and get off. I think instead, as long as he feels like he's looking for a reason to spook and as long as he isn't halting real well I will keep him on circles. Maybe have Lew stand in there and circle around him. Will just have to see how it goes.

Jul28:  Took Amigo into the arena again today. We did our usual pre ride ritual only slightly abreviated. He was better with saddling today, only gave me the harry eyeball but didn't lift a leg and didn't back up so I think we're getting that part fixed. I do think he will require slow cinching, a little lunging to deflate followed by slow tightening of the cinch for quite awhile as he just does not like saddling. Then I flexed him once I got on and he was real soft both sides but his attention seemed elsewhere. Hard to describe because he doesn't misbehave but it feels like he'd rather be anywhere else than where he is....it's an aloof attitude. So I had him do a lot of tight serpentines in that little pen, speed up his walk, halt etc until he felt like he was coming to the party. Then Lew opened the gate into the arena and we walked in. I had Lew step out into the arena and just stand there and I asked Amigo to circle around him. Amigo did as asked and seemed totally at ease. We went one time around, halted.....which he did with the lightest lift of the rein...just one....and I petted and got off. I was tempted to turn him and circle the opposite way but decided to wait till next time. It would be very easy to push this horse too hard since he seems so easy going but I think if I do that he just might figure out a way to react that would be very unpleasant. Sometimes he gets this look in his eye that makes me uneasy. That's when I don't want to push him. Then quickly that look is replaced by a softer eye and then I know it's ok to proceed. It's weird and it may be just my insecurity talking but I figure better go slow and be safe. This horse is so quiet I think he doesn't give big signals when he gets worried, and if I overlook the little signals.......kaboom!

Jul31:  Third ride in the arena with Amigo. We did several circles around Lew to the right. Halted, turned to the insode and circle to the left. At that point he saw something and got real tense and alert....head waaayyyy up. But that's all he did. I tried to flex him to get his attention back on me and he was stiff as a board. Not good. This is what worries me. When his attention goes away and he "loses" me, it is very hard to get him back and he really resists flexing. So somehow we need to work through that. Today I spent very little time in the pen prior to going in the arena, just enough time to get him bending well....and btw he was doing great serpentines in there today, tight bends and straight between. So maybe I should have spent more time bending him?? Not sure as he felt pretty relaxed and bendy to me. Another thing I might do before riding in the arena is just turn him loose in there with the saddle on and let him explore. I did that after I got off and he walked around a lot and finally relaxed and focused on me. Should have done that before hopping on I guess. So tomorrow....

Aug 1 Today I decided to try something a little different. Lew was going to be working on my horse bridge in the arena area and he was using lots of power tools. So I decided to bring Amigo into the arena and turn him loose and see how he handled all the racket. I hope I didn't fry his brain! He was pretty calm and seemed more worried about our dog who was running around in the fenced yard down by the house than about the compresser and stuff. He was at liberty so I just asked him to walk around and occasionally change direction and/or come to me. He was pretty good for the most part with this and only once did he feel like he had to leave me and run off. He very politely walked away from me then took off running and bucking, then he came back to me and stood still while the nail gun was being used. So then I decided to see how long he could focus on me with all the distractions. I asked him to follow me and he did....all over the arena, around several cones and over several cavalettes and even back to the corner where all the racket was happening. He followed and didn't once try to leave me! Pretty cool. I'm hoping this experience will get him more comfortable being ridden in that arena, after all he didn't die even with all the construction noise.....and I'm hoping to reinforce the idea that I am his safety net and as long as I'm around he doesn't need to be scared. At the end of the experience he was ignoring the dog, standing within 10 feet of the air compressor and nail gun, at liberty and he wasn't even flinching when the gun fired.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 11:12:21 am by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2014, 01:46:13 pm »

Aug 4: I rode Amigo again in the arena today. Pretty good ride but I had to spend a lot of time prior getting him to focus on me. This morning I brought Blue home from my friend's house where he has been staying since I got Amigo. My thinking was my pasture couldn't support 7 horses and her pasture was empty. That went well until she started boarding two more horses AND going out of town a lot. I fed for her during several of her trips, no problem, but she's leaving again for several weeks. Also her pasture is really grazed down now....so we decided it would be better for Blue to come home. Amigo has never met Blue so I expected some snorting and running around.....nothing happened! That was good but when I caught Amigo for his lesson, all the horses were up by the arena and Amigo couldn't take his eyes off Blue. I guess he thought he was going to miss out on something. Then Lew decided to come to the barn and do some work so that was also a distraction. So I worked Amigo for a good long time at liberty in the arena. He was saddled but no halter. Today he just wasn't paying that much attention to me so after awhile I decided to put the halter on him  and insist he focus on me. Every time he looked away I did something to bring him back....change direction, halt, bend....something. Then I tested his focus by asking him to follow me at liberty. He was a lot better. So I hopped on in the little pen and began flexing him. He is still not nearly as soft as I like and a couple of times I had to squeeze very lightly with my left calf to get him to bring his head around to the left. But once I was satisfied he was pretty much with me we went into the arena. Because some of the horses were still hanging out by the arena I planned to just ride him into the arena and get off but he felt pretty relaxed so I circled him several times to the left around Lew, halting a couple of times in the process. Then we reversed and went to the right for several circles, halted a few times and got off. At one point he seemed to ask to speed up. I just asked him to relax and slow down and he did and didn't scare himself. Still I feel it's too early to either let him go faster than a nice forward relaxed walk, or to walk in a straight line for too far. Either situation at this point in his training could set him up to get spooked and take off. Right now I am in confidence building mode....both his and mine! Getting spooked would not do either one of us any good. Today we spent more riding time in the arena, went both directions in a fairly large circle several times, halted several times and did all that with other horses dorking around in the corral by the arena and he stayed focused on me and relaxed the whole time. Good ride. Vickie will be here Thursday for our next lesson and I hope to have him going even better by then, maybe even riding in another part of the arena.

Aug6:  The guys finally showed up to work on the drainage around the arena so I had to cancel my lesson with Vickie tomorrow.....whine. So this morning we had a buldozer, a bobcat, a dump truck (several times), all showed up at once to get to work. I thought....hummmm....never pass up a chance to train.....so I got Amigo out of the pasture and brought him up to the arena to see how he handled all the craziness. As I was just putting him into the little pen, the first dump truck showed up with a full load of road base and dumped it not 10 feet from where I was standing with Amigo. Amigo was on high alert and watching the goings on very closely but he never flinched and never even acted the least bit spooked, just interested! Wow! So I guess that little lesson we had the other day with the nail gun had some effect! Then I turned him loose in the pen and let him walk around and offered him some hay which at first he didn't want. Then the buldozer started working on the other side of the arena and Amigo just stood and stared at that thing. Again he never got scared, just alert. I asked him to follow me and he did and I rewarded him with a little hay which he ate. So then I decided to do some experimentation. First I left the pen, disappeared into the tack room. Amigo got a little worried but not frantic, just looking around. Then I came back and asked him to follow me and he settled down. Then I climbed up on the fence next to the hay bag. He would not come up to me or eat any hay but he stayed calm. So for now it seems if I'm on the ground he relies on me for security but if I get up high, over his head as I would be if riding him, he no longer recognizes me as his security blanket. Interesting. I suspect it will take riding him through some scary situations before he feels secure with me in that position. Or maybe just handling him more from the top of the fence will help.....along with just lots more experience riding.

Aug 8: I finally got Lex back out in the forest today. Sue brought her borrowed horse over and just the two of us rode for over 3 hours. If was a great ride! The last time I had Lex in the forest I was alone and only made it maybe a half mile from home before I had to turn around due to threatning rain and then it took me a couple of hours to get home because Lex lost his mind and I had to keep circling. Today he was sooooo good! He seemed to want to lead and he also wanted to move out at a fast walk....no gait just a walk but quite fast. So I let him go as long as he stayed relaxed. We arranged our ride so we could take trails that kept circling back toward home but then we could go back out again. That way every time Lex thought he was headed home and kind of picked up the pace, we turned and headed back out. He never did get really chargy. A couple of times he pushed through the bit when I asked him to stop and negotiate around an obstacle and once I did one rein him because he was ignoring me. So I started halting him at unexpected times, backing him then telling him to drop his head. By the end of the ride he was walking....still fast...but with his head down, on a loose rein and the last half mile I put him behind Sue's horse and he was happy to still just walk. Then when we got back to the arena.....poof! While we were out riding, the arena fairy placed the horse bridge over the drainage ditch by the arena! Yippeeeeee! So we got to get the horses to cross the bridge! It was cool. Neither horse has been on that bridge yet. It's 12 ft long and 3 ft wide. Placed over the ditch created about a 18 inch drop off on each side. Lex just walked across like he has done it his whole life! So proud! I know I've said it before only to be proved wrong but I really do think that boy is finally starting to turn into a trail horse. Today he was great. We walked fast, cantered a couple of times for a few feet and gaited a couple of times for short distances and each time he slowed back down without arguing. Tomorrow, another ride on Amigo in the arena.

Aug9: Another great ride on Amigo! I am still doing my ground routine first but it's getting much more abreviated. I do just enough to be sure he's coming to the party and focused on me. Then I hopped on in the little pen, did some flexes which still are not as soft as I'd like but today I did more cueing with my leg. Every time I lightly touched him with my inside leg that head would come right around! So he's beginning to associate the inside leg with bending which is super. Then we went into the arena. Lew stood in the middle and we started out with smallish circles around him. Amigo was fine with that, totally relaxed and listening to me real well. I did some halts and direction changes too. I have some large orange cones set up in a rather large square so once we did several circles I decided to enlarge the pattern and go outside the cones in a sort of square. He did ok but on the straight parts of the square he got a little lost and his attention went zinging out to the pasture. He isn't ready for straight lines yet I guess so I had him do a bunch of figure 8's around those cones. We were still doing a larger pattern, farther away from Lew but instead of straight lines we could do lots of little circles and direction changes. Amigo seemed to like that pattern and was real relaxed and bending nicely around the cones. I rode for maybe 30 minutes. Woo hoo! I'm letting him do whatever speed at a walk he wants to go. So far his walk has been nice and forward and with no hint of wanting to break into a trot. I am no longer needing to nag him to keep him going which is nice. I think this is a reflection of him gaining more confidence. Today he felt like he was thinking out of the box. It felt like he was testing some boundries, very gently testing, not in a resisting way, more like experimenting with what he can do. It was kind of cool and I think we made good progress.

Aug13: Amigo in the arena.....I spent almost no time with ground exercises today. I started by letting him walk around the arena and asking him to come in to me. A couple of times he spooked when Lew made noise just as Amigo walked past the viewing stand where Lew was taking pictures. So I put Amigo on a lunge line and worked him near that stand while Lew made noise and moved around and jumped up and down. It didn't take long for Amigo to figure out there was nothing to worry about and he got to where he could walk past Lew and ignore all the goofy human behavior. Then I hopped on in the little pen, flexed him twice, did a couple of small circles and then walked into the arena. We started out walking around Lew, maybe twice, once in each direction, practiced halting a couple of times then proceeded to do circles around the cones. That went well so then I let him walk the big square. Where he got lost on the long sides during our last ride, today he was fine. So then I took him farther away from Lew to the other end of the arena and walked around some cones down there, over some cavalettes and then started back to Lew. At that point Amigo alerted on something in the woods, probably a rabbit. Lex did the same thing when I first started riding him in that arena. Anyway Amigo just stood there on high alert for maybe a minute, looking. I just petted his withers and let him process. I also took some big audible relaxing breaths to let him know I wasn't worried. When he dropped his head and took a big breath I asked him to walk on and he did like nothing happened. So now we are using the whole arena. Next step is to start lateral work. At some point, when he's relaxed enough, he'll let me know he's ready to trot, or gait. Then we'll step it up a notch. Also at some point, vickie will start riding another horse in there with me. Woopee!

Aug14: Vickie was here for another Amigo lesson. She keeps saying I don't need her but I think I do. Yes I know a lot but there are some pretty important details I don't know that she can teach me. Also it is always good to have another person look on, they can see things that I do that I am unaware of or that I need to improve on. We can always benefit from constructive criticism. Today she noticed that I am being too soft with him and letting him get away with zoning out. I need to firm up and I need to time it to coincide with his attention wandering. It took a few minutes for my timing to get correct but once I got it he started focusing a lot better and bending much better. He still tries to be stiff to the left. Today I was able to take him pretty much all over the arena, walked over the cavilettes and around all the cones. We also did the new pattern she set up to improve his bending and the exercise she set up to start teaching turn on forehand. I got 2 or 3 good turns. I also started teaching back up and got several good steps. His stop from my seat is getting really good. He was pretty sluggish though so at some point I'm going to have to wake him up. I will work on all these things and the next time she comes over she will ride Lex or Dodah in the arena with me and Amigo. That should be interesting!

Aug 17: Amigo has started some resistance stuff. It actually started when Vickie was here but seems worse today. He is suddenly not wanting to stand still by the mounting block. I expect him to find ways to test the boundries and this seems to be the start. These exceptionally mellow horses can take awhile to show you where the holes in their training are and that can take a person by surprise when you just rock along thinking the horse is ok with everything and learning at light speed and then he suddenly breaks in half because something has been building up over a long time. So today I spent a long time circling him by the mounting block, when he wanted to stop I got on the block and petted him, rocked the saddle, even sometimes put a foot in the stirrup but then I always got back down. Repeated about 10 times until he didn't need to circle any more then I got on. I expect he'll need to do this a bunch more before he's ready to give it up. At some point I'll need to teach him to come to me on the block but for some reason I'm not ready to do that yet. As for his bending I did firm up today and he's doing much better. Also every time his attention went away from the direction we were going Ibrought him back by bending him back to the direction we were going. That was working great and he mostly ignored the tractor sitting right by the arena and all the tools Lew had out to work on the drainage. His walk was a lot more forward and free today which I like and have been encouraging but today he didn't think he had to halt when I told him to. He was not halting off my seat at all and when I went to the reins I had to pull kind of hard a couple of times before he would stop. Testing the boundries again I guess. So I halted him pretty strong and then asked him to back up a few steps which he did pretty well. I also did some turn on the forehand the way Vickie showed me....you pick a point to circle around, ask for a tight circle and try to get the horse looking at that point and then touch him with your inside leg as he steps over with the inside foot. My timing was not so good today with my leg cue but we still managed to get a couple of decent turns. As soon as the horse steps under with his inside foot you release and let him stand. I have not taught turn on the forehand like this before. With Lex I kind of pushed him over with my leg and stopped the forward with the reins and the result was he stepped over with his outside foot....not at all what I wanted. So then I had to go back and fix that and it was not easy. I think this method will be much better and so far Amigo has only stepped over with his inside foot so he is doing it correctly. He is also now dropping his head when I alternate reins....not sure when he figured that one out but it's nice he has!

Aug 20: Another ride on Amigo. Today there was no pre ride ground work other than a little walking lunge to get him unpuffed so I could snug down the saddle. I used Dodah's new billy cook pad with thick foam because Amigo has been acting like his back hurts....when I brush him he dips when I brush vigorously over his lumbar area and he tightens up his back muscles when I palpate along his spine. Don't know how his back could get sore being ridden for less than 30 min at a walk every three days but oh well. I know that saddle isn't a perfect fit so....anyway he did well with the thick pad. Today he didn't even try to step away from the mounting block but when I did hop on he took a step away. So I backed him up a step and then we stood there for a few....he knows better! We did have our first under saddle argument today. He was walking out real nice, bending well but his attention kept flying over to what Lew was doing so I had to keep getting him refocused but it wasn't hard. The argument started when I politely asked him to halt....seat and voice first...no response...then rein lightly....no response....a little stronger rein....nose in the air, head shaking pissy attitude! Well by golly he halted and then immediately I told him to back up. Head up pissy attitude head shaking and refusal to back. So I held those reins quite tight and waited....and waited....until he finall took a step back. I kept holding but not as hard until his head came down. Then we backed several more steps. Then we walked off. I repeated this exercise several more times in between doing other stuff, each time asking with my seat and voice first and backing him as soon as he halted and making him drop his head before I gave him a release. By the end of the ride he was stopping much better....waaayyyy better.. And still he maintained that nice forward walk. So what I've learned....instruction given clearly and at a pace the horse can grasp is all well and good but there comes a time when the horse is gonna say "no". That's when firming up is called for. Amigo needs me to get pretty firm but then it doesn't take him long to get the idea I will not let him do whatever he thinks he wants to do. Once he's convinced, he doesn't test any more.....until he finds something else to test!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 10:03:29 am by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2014, 11:08:03 am »

Aug 24: Worked with Amigo again today. I did a little ground work with him first because I'm ready to really start working on lateral exercises. So the ground work consisted of asking him to do turn on the forehand both directions using a short dressage whip to act as a leg cue. He has this down pretty good and steps under with his inside foot every time now so today I started asking him to leg yield. That didn't go too badly but of course he had no clue and we ended up moving the front end, then the back end, then the front end, etc. I just asked for a few steps each direction and gave lots of pets when he got it even sort of right...But mostly we just did crooked sidepasses. Oh well it's a start. Then I went to hop on and today he had to move away from the mounting block so I picked up the block and made him circle until he asked to stop. He stood still then and when I got on he didn't take a step so we just stood there for a while and I petted him. ( He's sooooo pettable with his big ole arching neck and a mane that falls on both sides) Anyway then we walked off and I started doing spiral in and out both directions which we haven't done before but he still did them reasonably well. We walked all over the arena, practiced halting off my seat which he did every time today....yea! And then we attempted leg yields in both directions.....he was able to give me a decent leg yield off my left leg, going to the right but he isn't very responsive to my right leg so his yield to the left didn't actually work....at all. So I can see he needs a lot more ground work on that side. And practice practice practice. But here's the deal.....this horse is soooooo good! And he tries like crazy. He's smart, willing, and sensible. Every time I ride him we make progress. Very often something I started teaching with the last ride will be almost perfect by the next ride! So he thinks about what I'm teaching. Sometimes he doesn't understand and he is very clear telling me he's confused. Sometimes he understands but doesn't want to do it.....that's when I have to firm up. We seem to be developing a pretty good line of communication now so that I have a better idea when to firm up and when to step back and get more clear or take smaller steps. Amigo is starting to trust me too which in turn makes me more relaxed and trusting of him. Unless I am waaayyyy wrong I think this horse is going to be fabulous. I only have one dilema now regarding his training progress...he seems to be gaited in that he will do a real fast walk, almost an amble at liberty and on the lunge line. I have been trying to encourage it and he has gotten better at being able to do it for longer....half a circle rather than only a few steps. However if push to go faster or if he just wants to go faster, he trots. His trot is very smooth, actually he has a beautiful trot.....would be great for dressage. My dilema is do I limit his trotting while I work on developing the amble and take a chance on suppressing what is now a beautiful trot, or do I let him develop his trot and take a chance that he will then choose to only trot and lose the amble.....sigh decisions decisions. I have a feeling he will make the final decision.

Aug 25: Case in point regarding Amigo's ability to think about his lessons. Yesterday I started lateral ground exercises with him, trying to get him to leg yield, and all I could get was a crooked sort of a sidepass. This morning he did a perfect leg yield to the right, first time! To the left he was nearly perfect! He had to do it one step at a time and really think about each step but it was clear he has the general idea and gave it his best shot....and all with just the lightest tap with the whip. I even experimented some with seeing if he could understand that a touch farther back means move your rear feet and a touch farther forward means move your front feet. That confused him but he was able to guess right a couple of times! I'll repeat this lesson a bunch in the halter. Once he seems pretty clear, I'll put him in the bridle. Once he can get it in the bridle I'll put his saddle on and cue him with a stirrup (from the ground). Then he should be able to transfer all that to me being in the saddle and cueing him. I just cannot believe how quickly he is progressing with this training!!! Wow it sure makes a difference when you don't have to undo a bunch of crappy training first. Woohoo!

Aug 26: A quick note.....just ground work today....working on that leg yield.....today Amigo seemed to just want to go forward and was bothered by my tapping him to move his rear leg under and over. I tried a couple of times on both sides and he just seemed to get more and more bothered. I think I am asking for too much right now. I decided to see if he was as bothered if I asked him to just go sideways. He was fine with that on both sides. Now I know if I ask for sideways without the forward he's likely to start crossing his inside rear behind the outside rear, or stepping the outside foot over first which doesn't accomplish anything, and the inside front will cross over the outside, putting him in a bind. So what I did was ask for a sideways movement but allowed him to step forward at the same time when he needed to. That worked pretty well. I only asked for one or two steps each time too and that helped also. I also think that under saddle I need to continue to work on turn on the forehand but also add turn on the haunches so that he learns to separate the front from the back.
Riding Lex in the forest today with 3 other riders. Just got back from my ride and Lex couldn't have been better! He was relaxed the whole time even at the beginning, he listened to me, he was able to lead and follow and he gaited when I asked and slowed down when I asked, even when following a horse that likes to go fast. At first when that horse took off Lex thought he needed to canter so I let him go for a few steps but then he realized we weren't going to go that fast so he dropped to a nice even run walk and was willing to slow to a walk even though the horse in front was still trotting away. He was super. He only shied once as we were on the road back to the trailers and that was a squat shy....done and over with, easy to ride and he settled down immediately. Yea! He's starting to act like a real trail horse!

Aug 27: I did something different with Amigo today. I have an old circle y saddle that I don't use because it's not comfortable for me but the tree fits Amigo like a glove. So I put that saddle on him today with a nice thick pad, attached my clippers, put him in a rope halter with a 15ft lead and way we went for a walk in the forest. Amigo grew up on 150 acres that was partly wooded so I didn't expect him to get concerned and he didn't dissappoint! He walked when I walked, stopped when I stopped, grabbed a bite of grass while I was trimming the trail and generally was a super trail trimming buddy. He only tried to get ahead of me twice and I just told him he had to stay behind and put him back in his place. Once he nibbled at my butt while I was bent over cutting down a beauty berry. He got a swift smack in the nose with the lead rope....had quite the look of surprise on his face! I don't think he was trying to bite, just curious, but still horsey lips don't belong on the human. I had the saddle on him so that when we went through the thick overgrown parts of the trail the bushes would catch on the stirrups. He needs to get used to that as well as having brambles and bushes brushing his sides. He never had a problem. I walked him over fallen logs, some of them so big I could barely climb over them and he navigated like a champ. He is going to be one super trail horse! Next goal, trotting or gaiting, I think at this point I'll let him pick whichever is easiest for him. The object will be to just get his feet moving a little faster and teach him he can move out with a rider and nothing bad will happen but he also needs to stop when I tell him. I think when the time comes the transition from arena to trail will be easy....hope so anyway.

 aug 28:  I debated writing about this but decided I have to record the bad as well as the good....training horses doesn't always proceed smoothly. Today Amigo was terrible! He was not listening to me, he pushed through the bit every time I asked for a halt, he walked off as I was getting on, he was rushy and tense and just plain awful. He seemed to be mad and acted like a 2 yr old throwing a tantrum. Having said that, and having thought about this all afternoon trying to figure out why he should suddenly be such a butt head,I've decided that I may have set him up to some extent. I did no pre ride ground work, I had no one in the arena with me, there was a shower coming through so a cool wind and some rain..... So in the future I will not be skipping the ground work and Lew will continue to sit in the viewing stand. But still.....Amigo has been doing little things lately, like not wanting to stand still at the mounting block, stepping off when I get on him, and not halting to my seat. I think he is testing boundries. Given his previous reaction to correction, I think if I get fairly firm with him and continue to not let him get away with these things, he'll eventually give it up. He has improved with the mounting block and all I did was follow him in circle until he decided circling was too much work and stood still. I grew up with the mindset that you make horses do stuff....if they won't stop you'd get a bigger bit. It's hard to change that mindset.....not so much when things are rocking along all nice nice, but when things go bad, it's very easy to fall back to old habits. So far I think I've done pretty well but still, sometimes I'm not sure I'm handling things the right way. Today my first instinct was.....I need a curb bit!!!  Instead, I reminded myself it's not about the bit it's about the training. So after whining to Vickie and getting reassurance from her, I will be taking Amigo back a few steps and concentrate on what he knows for now. I think I was  giving him too much new stuff and his behavior today was partly him telling me to slow down! Maybe. Anyway no more lateral stuff for now. We'll concentrate on bending, walking the whole arena and halting. Maybe some backing. And concentrate on relaxation the whole time. I am anxious to see how he goes tomorrow.

Aug 29: Ok so maybe I'm anthropomorphizing somewhat but if it makes me feel better...... This morning after Amigo finished his little breakfast and while I was sitting on the top rail of the arena waiting for the rest of the herd to finish, Amigo sidled up to me and stood right next to me so that I could pet and scratch his face and neck. He has never done that before....never! He usually doesn't particularly like his face petted....REALLY not fond of kisses. Today it was like he wanted me to pet him! Personally I think he was apologizing for yesterday. Who knows? But I got the distinct impression he was going to be a good boy today for his lesson and sure enough this afternoon when I rode him he was better than he's been in awhile! He stood stock still at the mounting block and after I got on he didn't move until I told him to. His attention stayed pretty much with me and the couple of times he left, it was to check out the drainage area where a piece of tarp was flapping....no big deal, and his attention came right back to me when I lifted the opposite rein. I did do a bit of pre ride lunging and really worked on getting him to amble and halt to my voice. His amble is getting better in that he can do a whole circle now to the left. To the right he still either wants to drop to a walk or go up to a trot but we're working on it. So when I got on all we did was walk the whole arena, did Vickie's bending pattern all the way through once, and then back on the rail going both directions. I practiced halting every so often and he was stopping off my seat real nice and dropping his head every time I asked. So on one long side I tried asking him to speed up his walk. He did and it was a very fast walk, very smooth but not quite an amble. Still he did it and didn't get worried so that was good. It was a good ride.

And I took Dodah out in the forest, just me and him, to do some trail trimming. We went out about 2 miles after I got tired of triming beauty berries, and when we turned onto the perimeter trail to head home Dodah put it in high and took off gaiting. Of course I told him to slow it down, I never let them go fast toward home, but he wasn't having it. He got so collected for a little bit I thought he was going to do something really bad like rear but he didn't and so I decided to let him go. He forgets that once we make that turn onto the perimeter trail we still have 2 miles to go to get home! Ha! So when he started getting tired I made him keep gaiting and when we got to our property I made him keep going until we got to the logging trail where we made a big loop....another 2 miles before we got back home again. By that time he was more than willing to walk! Boy that collected gait was fun! And I learned he has no trouble gaiting up to a log and then jumping over, he does not need to canter to set up just fine for a jump.....and he loves to jump! It was a fun ride. I plan to do more solo rides now and I may even get some of the trails trimmed too!

Aug 30: Rode Lex in the forest today and he got nuts when we started home sort of like Dodah did yesterday but not quite so rushy. So I did the 5 mile circle/figure 8  like I did yesterday and by the end he walked up to the arena on a loose rein. So then I put him in the arena and did a bunch of canter work. His canter is getting real nice, on both leads. He's finally starting to use his back. I may be able to start collecting him soon.
Then I rode Amigo. He was a good boy again today, stood for mounting etc. We did a lot of bending and walking the rail and when he really relaxed, I asked him to walk faster. At this point he has no clue what I'm asking so when he finally guessed right and sped up I let him go a few strides then let him halt and petted. I repeated this several times until he offered a few strides of actual gait!!! Wowsa! Boy did he get the pets! We repeated that a couple of times and he seemed to start understanding that all that leg thumping and clucking means to move his feet and he just naturally chose to go into that amble. At one point during the ride he spooked at something. All he did was kind of jump forward a step or two and stopped as soon as I picked up the reins and he settled right down after. So now I know I can ride him through a spook and he's not likely to take off in a dead run in that arena. I'm getting a lot more confident with him for sure.

Aug 31: Amigo was on his high horse today, not bad exactly but ready to go and pushing through the bit when I asked for a halt.....forget halting off my seat today! So we walked and did bending and practiced halting. My confidence is getting such that I can now ride him when he feels full of it and I don't worry about him breaking in half. I started getting more demanding with the halt....first ask nice and then when he ignored me I cranked on those reins and held them until he gave his head. I don't like getting so strong with him but he has shown me that sometimes he doesn't want to respond to "please". By the end of the ride his halt was back to being good. The bending is getting much better....I 've discovered all I need to do is just lay my inside leg against his side, and then time my rein cue with his inside front leg and he just bends so nice and I even got a couple of walking turn on forehand this way. So no need to actually bump him with that inside leg.....the boy is proving to be more sensitive than I thought. I did not ask for a fast walk or gait today because he was already wanting to walk pretty fast and tending to blow off my cues to halt. I don't want to do too much speeding up until I'm sure we have that halt each and every time, no questions asked! By the end of the ride he was paying attention better and was generally more relaxed. It sure feels good to have the confidence now to ride him through his bratty days. I think this will allow us to make more progress as now I can let him test boundries and correct as needed.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 01:20:59 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2014, 01:42:38 pm »

Another fab-uuuuu-lus ride on Amigo today. I am loving this horse! Very little ground work pre ride today, just enough to get him un puffed, speeding up on command and halting on command. Then at the mounting block he had to move again so we did circles for a minute until he stopped. After that he was great. It takes him a few minutes of bending to get warmed up and supple but then he gets real soft and is bending pretty well on both sides. He was halting off my seat today.....that seems to be inconsistant, somedays good, some days not so good, but today was very good. We did lots of big serpentines which I hate but they are a good exercise. Then I had thrown a bunch of 4 inch pvc pipe and some landscape timbers in a kind of jumbled pile in one corner of the arena to simulate a bunch of down timber like what we have to walk through sometimes in the forest. Amigo had not seen this obstacle before today. He kind of gave it the hairy eyeball the first time we walked past it but didn't do anything else so I made another pass by that corner and this time I asked him to walk over the pile. He very carefully picked his way through all the pipe and logs and didn't hit a one. Put his head down and walked through like a pro! Then I asked him to speed up his walk. It felt like he was starting to gait a couple of times but when I watched the video...not so much. On the video it looks more like he is just doing a fast walk. I don't think this is a bad thing. I think if I carefully encourage this fast walk it could morf into a nice 4 beat something. I'm thinking this may be the point where a lot of potentially gaited Morgans get turned into strictly trotting horses because the trainers allow them to just blow through that fast walk/pregait thingy and go straight to trotting. It's a theory. Anyway I'm going to try to encourage this fast walk if for no other reason than it is a ground covering walk and would be great on the trail. Vickie is coming tomorrow. I can't wait for her to see how well we're doing. I am sure, if Amigo is as good tomorrow as he has been the last 2 rides, she will be riding Dodah in the arena with us. Yippee! Oh yeah, I need to discuss with Vickie....I noticed while watching the video that Amigo pushes his nose out every time he feels contact on the bit. It's not so much that I notice it while I'm riding....he's not pushing through the bit or at least I'm not aware of him doing that. Anyway I need to find out if this is something I need to nip in the bud before it turns into rooting, or if it's more a reflection of him finding his balance every time I make an adjustment to his focus or direction.

Sept 4: Well just dang it! Vickie didn't show up for our lesson today...No idea why. So I just rode ole Amigo anyway and maybe it's a good thing Vickie didn't show up because Amigo had an agenda today. I noticed when I watched the video Lew took of us a couple of days ago that Amigo was pushing his nose out when he felt contact on the bit. It was subtle and I didn't notice it while riding. Well it wasn't subtle today! He was almost stargazing! I hate that! So I spent the first 30 minutes of our ride getting his nose down...Every time that nose came up I raised the reins and put some uncomfortable pressure on his mouth. He tried raising his head even more, shaking his head, turning his head, but until he dropped that head, I kept the pressure on. I had to get pretty strong with him a couple of times but he finally caught on....drop your head and the pressure goes away! It was not pretty but we worked through it and he got much softer and we were even able to work on gait some by the end of it. I'm sure this lesson will need repeating a few more times before he gives it up though. He just seems to be testing the boundries and that's ok. If he doesn't test those boundries how can he learn what they are? Anyway we worked through it and it's nice to know he won't break in half when I correct him. As for his gait.....he is beginning to understand what the leg thumping means now and he speeds right up. Today he did a lot more of his little gait, whatever it is. He can go nearly half the length of the arena now but he can't keep it going through the corners yet. It feels like maybe it's a foxtrot but I won't know until he gets more regular at it and I can film it. It is just a schooch below a trot. At one point he tried to lurch into a trot but I shut that down and that's when he gave me several steps of that gait. It feels like the gait that Blue used to do which was a foxtrot. So we'll see.

Sept 18: Last ride on Amigo was 2 weeks ago. Today I saddled him up and took him into the arena for a little ground work. I wasn't sure about riding him since it has been so long and he hasn't even been handled in that time so I planned to ground work him and see where his brain was. He seemed to have gotten confused about going forward! He kept stopping after one circle on the lunge line so I got the lunge whip to help him understand to keep going until I tell him to stop. It took some pops on his shoulder but he finally got the idea and then was real good. So we did that for a bit both directions. Then I removed his halter and asked him to follow me through a clover leaf pattern which he did. I re haltered him and did some shoulder yields and rear end yields, then bridled him and got on. He was pretty quiet at the mounting block but did take a step away just as I was swinging my leg over....could have been a train wreck if he had spooked so now I know I really need to teach him to come to me, that will fix the whole mounting block issue. Today he was really stiff on the right side, kept trying to turn his head and neck to the left and he was a little rushy too. So every time he got rushy Imade him bend right. I found he needed a little more inside leg today to get the bend and I needed to totally release the outside rein. The he kept stopping and giving me a turn on the forehand! Not exactly what I was asking for so I had to give him little nudges with my outside leg. All together he seemed quite confused today but in no way cranky or resistant. My corrections were firm and gentle and I rode him until it felt like he was beginning to remember how to do things, settle down and get softer in those bends. Then I got off. It was raining today and the arena was kind of loud. Don't know if that was a factor, I suspect it was, but he needs to learn how to behave under all conditions. Anyway considering everything he was better than I expected. I plan to ride him daily and hopefully get Vickie over here next week for another lesson.
I just got back from 3 days at Ebenezer park. I took Dodah because I was riding with some people I didn't know. Had a great time! The YeeHaw sisters are sure a great bunch! The riding was perfect, we explored the marked trails and then managed to get off trail for some bush wacking. We rode along and in the lake and did a lot of hills and navigated some pretty tricky gullies and creeks. What a fun group.......fun and very competent horse women too. And the food! Groan I will be a month riding off those calories! Dodah was such a good boy but I think next time I just may try to take Lex if it's going to be the same group of ladies. It sure would be a good experience for him and I think he is in better shape than Dodah so keeping up with the endurance horse that Sylvia rides would be easier for Lex, Dodah was huffin and puffin a little on the hills.

19th: Amigo was somewhat better today. He was bending a little better to the right and not as rushy but seemed worried about something outside the arena and kept wanting to stay well off the rails. In the beginning he stopped off my seat but as the ride progressed he got to pushing through the bit some. He doesn't seem to be raising his head or pushing his nose out as much as he was a couple of weeks ago so that is good. I rode him a little longer today and he was overall more settled and softer. Would like to do some fast walking/trotting tomorrow if he stays settled.

20th: Amigo gets better with each ride. He was still a little stiff to the right so I spent a good amount of time today trying various exercises to get him to bend!! This is so important. If he remains stiff to the right the least that can happen is for him to bite down on the bit, turn his head and neck to the left and at that point I'm riding a runaway regardless of how fast or slow his feet are moving! He did this with Vivian the first time she tried to ride him so I know it's in his little bag of tricks. So he just has to get soft to the bit on both sides. I've been trying to figure out a way to describe this issue and the best I can do is to say when he turns to the left it feels like he wraps his body around my left leg. His head is down and his whole neck bends to the left and his ears are pointed to the left. When we turn to the right it feels like I'm trying to turn a boat. Everything is stiff. There is no feeling of wraping around my leg. His neck is either straight or slightly bent to the left, same for his head. The head is usually up or level and his ears point left. Of course there is no softness or lightness and I have to put some pressure on the bit. So today while doing lots of right turns I tried to pay special attention to timing my rein cue with his right front leg. Sometimes he'd start the bend but then end up doing a turn on the forehand because I was losing my forward. Sigh. I hate to drill a horse so in between practicing right bends I had him walking the long sides and halting. I would ask for a halt with my seat first, then with alternating reins. Today though instead of releasing as soon as he stopped (which was pretty soft!) I held the reins and continued to alternate with light pressure until he dropped his head and gave. As we walked the long sides I let him walk as fast as he wanted to encourage the forward. Once he was moving pretty loosly we'd go back to some right bends. Then I also started teaching him 180's. I've done this a lot in hand and he always has trouble stepping his shoulder over to the right. Instead of stepping with his right front, he tries to cross over with the left front. So today in the saddle I started asking him to step his shoulders over using the inside foot first.....left for a left turn, right for a right turn. He got a little confused at first but eventually figured it out and was even able to do it correctly to the right! After all this he finally started giving me some good right bends! Yea! This little horse is so non reactive it's easy to want to get big with him and up the pressure but that is exactly the wrong thing to do. If I just set him up and let him figure it out he will. Then once I know that he knows what I'm asking if he decides he doesn't want to do it, I can get a little bigger. Still it doesn't take much. The right bend thing is something to do with the way he's used to using his body and has nothing to do with resistance. So what I have to do is teach him another way to use his body which will in the long run make it easier for him to balance with a rider and allow him to be a softer lighter and more responsive horse.

21: Finally the temperature is coming down to a range compatable with life! Yea! Still humid tho. I've decided to ride two horses a day in an attempt to lose weight and get my guys trained. Will ride Amigo daily and alternate between Lex and Maisey. Today it was Amigo and Lex. Amigo still is getting better each ride. Today he needed almost no groundwork pre ride. He was fairly sluggish but got more energy as we worked. His right bend started off stiff and even when I asked for a right flex he wanted to just stand there and lay on the bit. Grrr. So I held the flex for a looooongg time until he finally gave. After that he was softer and actually did bend through the turns some. I attempted some 180's too and those are getting better but today he could not get that right front leg to step over. Then I started asking for him to speed up and got quite a lot of that little gait thingy he does. He almost made it through a corner without slowing down to a walk! The gait is weird, not sure what he's doing. It could even be a jog trot. He chooses to do it and it's  easy to keep him in it and he has yet to move up to a full blown trot. It's fairly fast...or at least fast enough to be a good trail gait, but it's not smooth like a run walk or rack but not bouncy like a full trot and is easy to sit. I need Lew to film us so I can see what he's doing. Anyway we did a fair amount of that today and we were both comfortable with the increased speed. I'd like for him to be able to do that gait through the corners and hold it for at least one trip around the arena before we introduce another horse into the arena. Also today he did a for real spook at some black plastic outside the arena. His spook was nothing! He just kind of startles and then stands there. Takes about a half a second. By the time I realized he spooked it was over...totally over, no residual fear at all. Gotta love that!
Lex was pretty rusty. His canter sucked today but did get better with practice. Right lead better, left lead not good at all and forget doing a simple change today. But it's been a long time since we've done this so I expected him to be rusty. I did pick up the blue jug today to drag it and Lex was totally ok with me dragging it on both sides from the saddle. I even turned him so he had to drag it while backing up and he was great with it. I guess that lesson is finally learned. Yea.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2014, 08:08:53 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2014, 07:15:49 am »

Little ride on Amigo yesterday and his right bend was much much better! I could hardly tell any difference between sides....yea. This will be an issue for a long time so I will have to continuously work on it until it becomes habituated for him. Then I was going to get Lew to film us doing that little gait thingy but Amigo had other ideas. He was very forward and his smoothish little gait quickly became a real trot. I let him do it because right now I want him to learn how to go forward and the best way is to let him choose the gait. He may, in the long run, be a trotter. I will just ride whatever gait he gives me for now and not try to micro manage him too much. We did do several 180's and that is getting better. He seems to be getting more sensitive to my leg cues although I still can't get a real leg yield.....he seems to think when I cue him for a leg yield that I'm nagging him or something....anyway it kind of annoys him.
Then I rode miss Maisey for the first time in months. She is so fat I figured riding her much in the really hot humid weather would kill her! So yesterday it was a little cooler.....she did great! Wasn't spooky at all in the arena and went well in her bosal. Then I put the snaffle bit on her.....she did great! She did chew a little at first but once we started doing something that chewing quit. She was pretty soft in it too and didn't seem to have any trouble understanding the cues either. I plan to ride her with the Tuesday group today but will only use the bosal until I see how she does.

Sept 24: YEA!!!! YIPPEE!!!! I rode Amigo all the way around the perimeter of the arena today in trot! Not the gait I was hoping for but what the heck. His little trot is so smooth! I could easily sit it but chose to post to keep from hurting his back. It took him two tries before he could trot through a corner but once he figured out how to balance....away we went! He was relaxed and stepped up into the trot very smoothly, no lurching or rushing.  we went both directions. He is going to be a super trail horse even if all he does is a trot. His right bend was pretty soft today but now the left bend is sticky....sigh. At the trot he was pretty stiff both sides which is to be expected. That will improve with practice of course. Tomorrow I'll ride him with Vickie riding Dodah with me in the arena. If that goes well I see no reason to delay taking him out of the arena. Probably at first just around the house but I could just as easily go out of the trails, might even be safer out there. Oooohhhh I can't wait!
Lex was super today in the arena. It only took a few warm up minutes (shoulder fore along both long sides, both directions in gait)  before he was using his back and gaiting nicely so then I asked for canter and got both leads. The left lead was good today but on the right lead he really didn't want to bend at all and the canter was not all that good. I wonder if we're having saddle trouble again. I used his saddle with the big billy cook pad but I set it a tad forward so it may have been pinching his shoulder....
Maisey was my horse yesterday on the Tuesday ride. She was great. We rode 9 miles, mostly walking but did a little gaiting too and she hardly broke a sweat. Seems fine today too so I guess she'e good to go. Used the bosal.

25th: Oh what a great lesson! Amigo was pretty high today and started the lesson wanting to trot off! So I did a lot of bends, serpentines etc to try and get him more settled. It took him almost 30 minutes to finally be able to focus on the business at hand and while we were walking around waiting for his brain to come to the party he managed 2 spooks. He did his first full blown spook spin. I almost came off because it took me by surprise but he stopped by himself and I managed to hang on. Then he spooked a second time but this was a spook in place so no big deal. So I spent a lot of time making him walk by the scary area and keeping his attention on me, not the scary thing whatever it was. He finally started relaxing so then I asked for a trot. He chose to do his little fox trot today. Vickie was watching and she thinks as I do, that it's a fox trot. He would do that gait for about half the long side then go to a full trot just before slowing to a walk in the corner. He just could not make it through the corners today and I think that had something to do with him not being able to decide what to do with his feet. Vickie agrees with me to just let him choose what he wants to do for now. Once he is comfortable with moving out and he knows more about dropping his head, and he develops a little more strength maybe then we can work on gait. Personally I think working on gait will be very far down on the training priorty list! Then we got Dodah into the arena and Vickie hopped on him and we had both horses walking around in there. Amigo couldn't have cared less. At first I let him follow Dodah just so he wouldn't feel like he was being chased. That only lasted for a minute or so because Amigo was being so good and relaxed. So then we started doing a little mini drill! Just at a walk but getting the horses to walk side by side, separate, go different directions, come back together.....all very good training and Amigo was perfect. We quit on that note. But....we still had daylight so I liberated Amigo and saddled Lex and we took them for a little trail ride in the forest. Lex was absolutely perfect! Even headed toward home he walked on a loose rein, gaited and cantered when I asked and slowed back down when I asked. Wow! We rode for 2 hours and had a great time. I think I've lost Dodah to another rider.....Vickie wanted to take him home....everybody that rides him does! So there are about 10 people now that want to be written into my will! Ha! Vickie also decided she wants to show Dodah. She and some other ladies are thinking about getting some gaited shows organized in this area. They also want to form a drill team. Oh boy! I love to do drills and I would love to see Dodah in a show just to see how he would do. Vickie is wanting to break into the gaited horse business and she has lots of connections in the show world so maybe this will happen!

26th: Amigo's lesson today was not what I'd planned but it was what he needed! Sometime in August he started moving away from me when I go to put my foot in the stirrup. I've been dealing with that by following him around in a circle until he asks to stop and then he usually stands still. Today....no. And I gotta say I did lose my temper too but managed to not take it out on him too much....other than bumping him with the mounting block to make him circle....I wanted to smack him but managed to not...deep breaths. Anyway what I started seeing was he started thinking he was supposed to move away from the block! So I got to thinking....when I started riding him he was so good and quiet I kind of skipped the whole mounting block lesson. So I'm thinking....duh! He doesn't really know exactly what he's supposed to do when he stands next to that thing. Soooo today instead of making the wrong thing hard I decided to just make the right thing easy....and very clear. I got him lined up next to the mounting block and petted the heck out of him. Then lifted my foot and put it back down before he had a chance to move. Any time he moved I just circled him while standing on the mounting block until I could get him reasonably lined up again. If he stepped forward I would back him up a step, if he even leaned away from me I would make him step closer to the block.  Repeat about a thousand times until I could put my foot in the stirrup without him moving. Repeat that about a million times until I could get in the saddle. Got right off and started over. Repeated this whole routine at least three times but it felt like much more! In between sessions at the mounting block I walked him over to the rail where I started teaching him to come to me. He's a pretty quick learner and it only took 10 minutes or so to get him to move his rear end toward me when I tap him on top of his hip and say "come". Did that a few times then went back to the mounting block. I alternated those exercises until he was doing both things, standing quietly at the block and coming to me from the rail, pretty consistantly. Took about an hour total. I never did ride him. We'll see how well he remembers tomorrow. This lesson has to get solid. I can't have a horse that won't stand still for mounting, it's too dangerous, especially for us older folks that aren't as limber and quick as we once were! Also he has to learn to come to me because out on the trail if I have to climb up on a log or berm to get back on him, he needs to do all the work to line up properly because I am usually occupied with not falling off the log!

27th: The new plan for mounting seems to be working. Today he only felt like he had to move twice and all I had to do was circle him and line him back up and he was still. He also remembered how to come to me off the rail but he couldn't quite do it away from the rail. I got on him and rode around a bit then got off, then got back on. He was still. Repeated several times then put him up. This seems to be the fix.

Oct 1: Amigo hasn't been ridden since his lesson with Vickie a week ago, we've been working on standing still at the mounting block. So today I decided to ride him for a solid hour and really make him work. He was high as a kite when we went into the arena ans did a spook spin bolt right off the bat. Fortunately I wasn't on him but it sure gave me a heads up as to what I was in for! So I let him careen around the arena with his saddle on until he started asking to come to me. Then I bridled up and got on. He was very good standing still at the block so we have made progress there but he was not focused on me at all and kept wanting to speed up and/or spook and kept looking off outside of the arena. I tried the gentle refocus exercises that Vickie had me doing last week and that helped but he still was not being 100% with me. So I decided to firm up. I took him to the scary end of the arena and every time his attention wandered away from me and/or he tried to speed up, I bent him....call it a one rein....until his feet stopped but more importantly his attention had to come to me completely....two ears, two eyes. I did this for maybe 30 minutes and it really seemed to help. I also got off of him at that end of the arena but only when he was calm and focused on me. I would get off, ask him to lower his head and relax his neck. Then I would ask him to follow me to the mounting block and I'd hop back on. I did this several times. The object was to teach him that the ride isn't over just because I get off! This lesson lasted over an hour. I think at this point now that he understands the basics and is starting to test the boundries, it's time to get him working and get him understanding this is his job and he's expected to do it. I was pretty firm with him today. So far every time I've had to firm up with him it hasn't taken much and his attitude has improved so I hope tomorrow when Vickie is here that he will be better than he was today.
I also rode Lex in the arena. He was still off on his right canter....very lumbering, kind of having to hork himself up with each stride. I had his saddle on him with the thicker western roping pad. So I got to thinking again...something is wrong with the saddle. I removed all that stuff and put Marsha's Imus saddle on him with just a thin felt pad liner. It took a couple of tries but he finally figured out he could move better and the canter got much much better. I do not like riding in that chair seat but if the saddle is more comfortable for him that's what I'll use until I can figure out how to fix the other one.

Thursday: Yippee! Vickie has agreed to take Amigo and put 30 days of wet blankets on him. She thinks it won't take more than a couple of rides to get him going more consistantly. Today he was great for me and he even gaited some and totally kept his attention on me, unlike yesterday. But I still think he needs to learn how to move out and still keep his attention on the rider and I just don't want to do that part. I've given him a great start and I know Vickie can get him farther along quicker than I can. So he'll be going to her place tomorrow.
Lex was super on the trails today. I am finally starting to have confidence in him around other horses. This is the third or fourth ride with multiple horses moving out on the trail and he has been perfect....going along on a loose rein, not speeding up unless I tell him to, not trying to catch up with the horse in front even when they take off cantering, and walking home on a loose rein. Yea! I am pretty sure the boy has finally matured. And I even like riding him!

Oct 4: Amigo went to Vickie's this morning. He was so good and loaded right up and when we got there he backed off the trailer real slow and carefully. I love that horse! He took the move in stride and only got a little worried when we walked past her paint stallion on the walker. Not sure whether he was worried about the walker or the stallion but he sure stared for awhile. We put him into a little paddock next to the friesian gelding she has there for training. That horse....Lars.....wanted to play with the new neighbor but Amigo was totally uninterested in anything other than the pile of hay in his paddock. Goof ball. How can you ignore a friesian? Anyway she will start riding him tomorrow and I will probably go over there next thursday to see how he's doing and maybe ride Lex in her arena with Amigo.
Lex has been telling me his saddle is making him sore so today I removed the stirrups and girth and set the tree on his back. Boy it looks like it fits like a glove. The only thing is it may not have enough spine clearance back under the seat. So I took an old supracor endurance pad apart...the underbelly had worn through and the thing is no longer usable but the supracor is still good. So I removed the supracor and will glue it to the underside of his saddle tree and then maybe add some felt liner to raise is some more. The other alternative is to get my dremmel tool and sand away that part of the tree under the seat that is pressing on his spine. May do that anyway. Actually that would turn it into a kind of McClennen type of saddle and that might make it more comfortable for my butt. Will have to see how it goes. Will only make one change at a time so this could take awhile.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2014, 04:26:24 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2014, 04:54:53 pm »

Oct 4: 15 minutes after my last post.....Vickie just called to say she rode Amigo today and he was a perfect gentleman! She said she even got him to trot and at no time did she feel he was going to do anything stupid. Wow! I mean he's only been at her place for a few hours! I would expect him to at least be a little worried about his surroundings but nooooo! And she even has a "herd" of dogs at her place, something he's not been exposed to while being ridden. He will be dog broke, donkey broke, trail broke and a super horse by the end of the month if he continues like this. Yea!

Oct7: No news from Amigo so I guess he's doing well and I hope to go see him on Thursday.

Went on the Tuesday ride today  and we had quite a large group and a couple of ladies I hadn't met before.  I never cease to be amazed by the number of people that have no control of their horses and think that's normal!!!  Today we were joined on our ride by a nice lady on a very young twh. She had described the horse to me as being very laid back....not! That dang horse spent the entire ride jigging right up behind Dodah's rear end to the point poor Dodah was wanting to clobber the horse. He didn't kick, what a good boy, but he sure wanted to. The problem got serious when we had to navigate the gullies which can be deep and the trail winding and sometimes tricky. That dang horse kept running  up on us, nearly on top of us several times! Dodah was doing his best to body block her horse to keep it from runnung away with her! After the ride I got to talking to the other riders that were behind us and they told me she wasn't even trying to stop her horse. Grrrrr! I know when I suggested she try a mild leverage bit, just for training down hill, she got all offended that I suggest she put that much pressure on her baby's mouth. Huh? Hauling on a snaffle bit with both hands while standing in the saddle trying to stop your horse isn't putting pressure on it's mouth? What? I guess actually training the horse to be soft and responsive to the bit would be too much trouble. And what about just not riding a young horse in a group setting until it has learned to go along softly and stay focused on it's rider. Yeah, maybe that would be a good idea. Anyway, cudos to Dodah for being so good and patient today, he made me proud. And I'll not be riding with that particular lady again if I can avoid it, life's too short. This is the first person I've met since moving here that has not had what I consider good horsemanship skills.....well maybe the second person. She rides a gaited horse and does endurance. I should have known....not my riding style or mindset.

Oct 9: I got to visit Amigo today and I also took Lex to ride him in Vickie's arena which is larger than mine. Lex was a slug and I had a hard time getting any decent gait out of him and his canter totally sucked. It was hot and neither of us was motivated. But Amigo was wonderful! Vickie has worked on getting him softer and I gotta say he was like butter for me when I rode him! And he is now stopping with his nose vertical....no more nosing out, rather he is dropping his little head and soft soft soft! I only rode him for a few minutes because Vickie's saddle was waaaayyyy to big for me, I could not reach the stirrups even with them adjusted on the top holes. But Vickie rode him a lot and I got to watch him trot a lot....he is now trotting circles....and she said yesterday he offered some gait but he didn't want to do it today and we are not pushing the issue right now. I still think his gait is a foxtrot but Vickie swears it feels like a run walk. I know what she's talking about, I've felt it too but it is so close to his trot that I really think we're looking at a beautiful collected foxtrot once he gets strong enough to do it for more than a few strides. Anyhoo I told her to work on getting a good fast loose and relaxed walk and not worry right now whether he's gaiting or not. The other thing was she said he is still trying to speed up on his terms and not waiting to be told, so she's been working on that. I took Lex past him at a good clip and sure enough he tried to speed up. Vickie shut that down, then worked him walking and trotting for awhile. Later when I went past him again going kind of fast he made no effort to speed up. Yea! I think he's pretty close to getting the idea to wait for his rider. Next week she wants us to take the horses to a local park for Amigo's first trail ride. Yippee! Vickie is starting to really enjoy riding him and thinks he's going to be a great horse. I am very very pleased with him. He may be almost as good as Dodah when he gets more experience. He certainly has a great personality and work ethic. Vickie said she has not yet had an argument with him and he is very willing. Yep, he's a sweetie.

Oct 12: I rode Amigo again today. He has started getting behind the bit real bad. Vickie said this is something he has just started doing and I believe her because he wasn't doing it when I saw him on thursday. She had to work pretty hard to get him on the bit. When he finally settled in he was trotting pretty well and looked nice and relaxed. But when I got on him....well he got behind the bit again and then started pushing his right shoulder and wow I had no control there for awhile. The boy is still trying to figure out the boundries it seems. I was finally able to get him straightened out and once I figured out how to get a bit earlier with my correction we got along a lot better. He is moving out freer now so now steerage will become more important. At no time during this little miscommunication did I feel insecure or threatened. He was not being resistant so much as confused. Once I was able to get more clear with my cues we got along much better. He wants to do the right thing but he doesn't know yet what the right thing is! Next weel we take him to a park for his first trail ride. Can't wait!

Oct 15. When I rode Amigo a few days ago Vickie gave me a riding lesson to teach me some of the things she has been doing with him. He was getting behind the bit that day so I didn't get to do as much as I could have done but I still learned a bunch. One of the things we worked on was halting with him soft and giving to the bit. His face had to be vertical his poll up. In this position he lifts the base of his neck and gets off his forehand to some extent. Amigo does this easily so I didn'thave to work too hard to get him to do it. The big thing I learned was to get him soft and "framed up" first, then stop riding with my seat until he stops. Once I got my timing it was easy to do. But I had a real lightbulb moment when I realized I had not been doing this with Lex. I taught Lex to stop off my seat which he is more than happy to do, but he stops by diving down in the front. I thought the way to correct that was to get his head lower but noooooo! Now I understand to get him soft to the bit, raise the base of his neck FIRST, then ask for whatever transition I want be it a halt or speed up. So today I rode him and at the walk I started getting that face not only low but vertical and with his poll up. It took awhile and I had to correct him about every other second but he finally got the idea to hold that position. The whole time we were walking and halting. Once he could do those things more or less consistantly I started asking for more complicated exercises like leg yielding and turn on forehand...walking...and turn on hindquarters. We did some patterns and then I asked him to gait and wow! I got that beautiful floating run walk that he has given me before on the rare occasion when he's been motivated. Today it was each and every time I asked and not only that he held it through all corners and even some lateral work. What fun! That was the most fun ride I can ever remember having on that horse. I have to get him moderately collected and then when he really starts gaiting good I let him relax a bit and I noticed his head drops a bit but he keeps his collection. Droping his head seems to be when he needs to start a head bob which happens as he gets lighter on the forehand. I felt like he could step into a collected canter any time but I didn't ask for that.
Having said all that I think all the work I did with him.....for years....to get his head down, and I mean way down....not quite peanut rolling but pretty low.....was a good thing. He had been started under saddle very young....my quess is about 18 months....and all the trainer taught him was don't buck and get your head high and rack. He was a star gazer when I got him, very hollow and very very stiff. It took him a long time to be able to even walk with his head down. So I spent forever getting that head down which then got him heavy on his forehand. Still all the lateral work I did with him to strengthen his abdominal muscles and get him using his rear end helped and maybe with another horse would have been enough to get it to raise its back and collect. Not so with Lex. He has kind of a long back and it is not easy for him to rotate his pelvis. His back is also a little bit dropped, maybe from being started under saddle so young or maybe just genes, I don't know, but that also makes it hard for him to collect. So all that long low work and lateral work helped him develop the strong abdominal muscles he needs to collect and once I figured out how to ask for it he was finally able to give it to me. That's my theory anyway. Will discuss with Vickie tomorrow and she if she agrees. She may say....no, all he needed was for his rider to get a clue! Ha!

Next day: I rode Lex again this morning in his improved saddle. I used the corrector pad with a pad liner and that seemed to work well. The good news is he was every bit as good today as he was yesterday! It took a few minutes of walking around and asking him to bring his head vertical and lift the front end and I discovered he could get there more easily if at the same time I had him doing mild lateral work...ie, leg yields. Once he got warmed up and with the program we were able to do lots of good lateral work, great gait which he held for a good long time with less nagging on my part than usual,and he even offered a very collected canter on the right lead! That canter was not real clean though, being more of a canter gait still but at least he offered and made the try. I figure I can work on that a little at a time and we will eventually get it figured out, I'm sure I'm a big part of the problem and if I don't get it figured out on my own, I bet Vickie can help. One of the patterns I do with him is kind of a clover leaf pattern but instead of just bending around the cones, I occasionally throw in a walking turn on the forehand or haunches. Boy that really gets him on the bit and collected! It was right after I did that pattern that he offered the canter.

This afternoon we took Amigo and Dodah to a local park for Amigo's first trail ride. Well, WOOHOO!!!!!!! Amigo was perfect! He was calm, eager to walk out, comfortable taking the lead or following. He even went side by side totally at ease and not trying to turn it into a race. We walked and trotted and he even did a fair flat walk for awhile. He walked over two wooden bridges and one little foot bridge with no problem. He did not want to walk through any puddles but got better after we crossed several of those. Finally we did cross a rather steep gully. We had to step down a steep side which dropped off about 6 inches from a tree root. Dodah had no problem but Amigo just could not do it. So Vickie got off and led him. It took him a few minutes before he could screw up enough courage to step down that drop off but he did it and did not try to rush, he just stepped very carefully. So what a good boy. I am so proud of him. I'm sure once he gets more confident with his balance he will be able to navigate those gullys just fine.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2014, 05:31:44 pm by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Re: Training adventures
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2014, 09:45:31 am »

I went to a schooling show this weekend to watch my friend ride her little McCurdy in her first ever show. She did entry level A &B gaited dressage tests I think. She did ok as this was her first show and both rider and horse are still pretty green. The huge thing was that she was even able to ride her mare in the show at all. A few years ago that mare would have spooked in the first two seconds and bolted and bucked her rider right off. So the fact they made it successfully through two tests is just the best....makes my heart smile.
But then I got so inspired I came home and this morning I hopped on Lex to see what we could do. Since I've figured out how to lift his front end he is gaiting so much better and today we did 20 meter circles in both directions, change from working walk to flat walk to free walk and halt. I didn't follow the tests exactly but I think I got all of the elements in. What I noticed at the show was the riders were not getting very clear changes in their transitions. One rider in particular.....you couldn't tell a bit of difference between her working walk and her flat walk. And her horse didn't drop its head and extend at all during the free walk. The other rider's flat walk was a pace but at least you could see some kind of change. So today I really concentrated on getting Lex lifting his back for everything but the free walk. For that he was more than happy to extend down! But I was careful to insist he stay "up" through all the transitions. It was a good ride. He was able to make almost all the transitions while collected. The biggest problem was from working walk to halt. If I wasn't real early to get him prepared and collected he would just slop to a stop on his forehand like he's done for years, but if I got him collected and then stopped riding he usually came to a nice square stop. Also he was able to flatwalk through those 20 meter circles, something he has been very inconsistant with before. Really today the only big problem I had was getting him to bend while doing left haunches in. He wants to stay really straight making it more of a half pass or something....not soft at all and he kept getting stuck. I can see we need to work on that one. His haunches in to the right is very good...
Now all I need is a good dressage instructor around here and some schooling shows.....

I met with Vickie this afternoon for another trail ride with Amigo and Dodah. Today we had three horses and riders...a friend of Vickie's came with her and rode her green QH. That horse had never been on the trails before. And two dogs just to make things interesting! I'm happy to report the horses did spectacularly well! We tried everything we could think of to push Amigo's buttons......walking through puddles..which he did today but it took him a few minutes to come to grips with the idea.....he led, he followed, he was the middleman....I rode Dodah off to see if Amigo would try to catch up and all he did was ask if Vickie wanted to go faster and when she told him no he was fine with it. I rode Dodah up behind him and bumped his hiney and he didn't react at all. We gaited side by side.....that was the only time he got a little rushy, he wanted to go from his flat walk to a trot but was totally calm about it and settled right down when Vickie told him to. We found a pond and I rode Dodah out into it. Vickie asked Amigo to step down the little bank into the water. Ooh water AND a bank! It did take him several tries to get down that bank and then he was pretty tentative going into the water but once he got his feet wet he decided that was loads of fun. Vickie almost couldn't get him out of the pond. He wanted to go swimming I think. For sure he was thinking about rolling. Goofy. The other green horse had much more trouble getting into the pond and never did get comfortable with it. The only thing we didn't get to do today was work on stepping down steep banks. We'll do that next week when we ride in the forest behind my house where there are a lot of steep and deep gullys and challanging log falls and a couple of gullys with standing water in the bottom. Should be an interesting ride....can't wait! But today I was really proud of my boy. He is going to be so much fun and Vickie thinks he has a good chance of becoming my dressage horse. We'll have to see about that but for now we know he loves being a trail horse!

Oct 28: Yesterday we rode again at Jones park, Vickie on Amigo and me on Lex this time. This was Lex's first trail ride at that park and his first trail ride with DOGS! He did great. He was totally not bothered by the dogs even when they ran up behind him. The only thing that worried him was when the dogs got in front of him. He watched real close because he didn't want to step on them. He was a very good boy!
Amigo.....ok we all know there are no perfect horses....except Dodah of course, ha.....but so far Amigo has been darn close. Well today we found the big grande huge hole in his training! He will not step down off a ledge, even if its only a few inches high and the problem is much worse (if that's even possible) when the step down is in a narrow path with sides....like you see going down into a gully or a wash out. Vickie and I spent over an hour yesterday trying to get him to go down into a little gully. We rode him, we led him, I tried my trick with a dressage whip to teach him to step down....nope, not gunna do it, not nohow! We gave up and took him to another area around a pond and let him learn how to go up and down gentle slopes over there where the topography is more open. He got real good at going down slopes there and was even rushing down them a little which I don't like but will work on that part later once he is more confident. Anyway once he was doing that real well we went back to the gully and tried again....no deal. It was getting dark so we gave up and went back to the gentle slopes again so we could end on a good note. That time when going up a little hill he offered his first canter! So that was cool. So we headed back to the trailers and on the way encountered a hiker with dogs.Vickie's dogs took off and wouldn't come to her call so she took off on Amigo to chase them down and try to prevent a dog fight. Amigo had no clue what he was supposed to do but he sped up into a pretty extended trot. They caught up with the dogs and no fight ensued and all was well. But the cool thing I got to see was Amigo could speed up like that and not get worried. I would not have been surprised to see him buck some but he didn't even think about it and when she told him to stop he was very good and stopped and stood there calmly. Yea!
So now the question is how to get him over being scared of the drop down. Vickie is bringing him here on thursday so we can go in the forest where there are lots of gullys. We may not get very far! My plan is to teach him to lead down hill first using the come to me cue I used when we were doing the trailer training. Once he can lead down hill real well I'll try to get him to lead down a steeper hill, then down a step off we will make out of some rail road ties. Once he can do that I'll start riding him over all that stuff and once he can do that it will be time to try the gullys. Of course all of this will take a long time, I'm thinking a month or more but that's ok, worth the time put into it. I may even get Lew to dig out a trench in the pasture so we can practice going down into that. And finally I'll take him to the roughs to do some hill work. That will require boarding him at Vivians for a few days so I may not get to it until next spring. I think I will have to progress real slow with this project because he really is just terrified for some reason and I expect it's going to be awhile before he can get over that. One thing I know about Amigo, you have to break every lesson into little tiny steps, you can't go too fast or skip steps....but once he gets it he's very willing.
So.....Lex is pretty much a done deal now. He's become a dependable safe trail horse...oh and by the way his gait is fabulous now that I finally learned how to get his back up. He floats. And Amigo, although nearly perfect, has that huge hole in his training that will be a challange to fix but will be a fun project and is totally doable. Other than that he is right now a pretty darn good trail horse....goes through brush and over logs like a pro and he has this sweet little run walk....it's not real fast yet and he can't do it for very long yet but it is smooth and he looks so cute doing it! And he tends to pick it up on his own, you don't have to tweek anything, all you have to do is keep him from moving up to a trot. But then when you want a trot, he has that too. What a deal, gaited trail horse and trotting dressage horse all in one package! Love it!
« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 05:53:17 am by zipeddodah »
Logged
Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 8   Go Up