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Author Topic: Training adventures  (Read 6399 times)

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2014, 03:12:25 am »

Amigo is home! I can hardly wait to start working with him again. Vickie brought him here yesterday and we rode the horses out into the forest, Amigo's first forest ride. He did great. I had taken him for a walk out there over a month ago just to see how he handled the brush....I was leading him, not riding him at that time. Yesterday when we rode out we came to the trail I took with him a month ago and he remembered it! Then as we were coming back to the house and it was getting dark, I missed the trail to get us home but Amigo didn't. He tried to tell Vickie we needed to turn but she is unfamiliar with the trails and thought we were going another way so she told him not to turn onto that trail. Once I realized my mistake, Amigo took us the right way home. What a cool trail horse! He's like Dodah in being able to learn the trails and in being so polite about telling his rider they are screwing up. He still has his hang up about gullys though. We have been able to figure out the problem is with a narrow trail rather than with a drop off. He was ok with stepping down into a gully if the trail is flat but boy if that trail is a channel leading down between two banks....forget it. So, today I start trying to fix that. Not sure exactly what to try first. I'm thinking to just ride him in the arena to get re aquainted and then try riding him downsome open slopes to get him trusting me. After that.....I guess I'll play it by ear and be ready for anything. I could do some practice with him walking between tarps to get him used to that closed in feeling before I try to work him on actual gullys. That may be the best. Whatever I do though I'll use advance and retreat and may even reward with treats even though I usually don't approve of treat rewards and never use them. I do know the advance and retreat worked real well when I was teaching him to load and back off the trailer so I know it works with him. Anyway I can't wait to get started!
I may have a new riding buddy! Vickie has said she wants to start bringing some of her trainees to my place to ride. She also said she would be delighted to ride any of my horses at any time......I consider that very high praise indeed coming from someone who makes her living training horses for other people. I would expect the last thing she'd want to do for fun is ride someone else's horse! Ha!

Ok so I discovered this morning that Amigo has become a real bully at feeding time! He should be a cutting horse....he kept herding Dodah into a corner and then trying to kick the snot out of him! Grrrr! So I got after him with a buggy whip big time.....nobody beats up on my horse! After the dust settled and everybody finished eating I haltered Amigo and began his training toward navigating the scary ditches. First I led him down the ramp behind the arena. No problem. Then I found a pretty good drop off, about 10 inches, and led him down that....no problem. Then I led him down the same drop off, just moved down a bit where he had to step down and smack into some brush....no problem and he listened to my instructions to keep him out of the brush. So then I set up a tarp on the arena rail and another one on a sawhorse to make a channel. He had no problem walking between those even when I had them so close he hardly had room for his feet. I could even send him through and stop him in the middle. Sooooo.....then I took him out to the big tire. He has never seen this obstacle before. He followed me right up on that thing and right across and back down the other side. No problem even when the sides of the tire kind of sank down with his weight because Lew didn't quite get the road base stuffed in the sides enough. Then I placed sawhorses on both sides, made it real narrow and covered them with tarps so he had barely enough room to step up and stand up there. He had literally no problem with any of it! So now I think I'm going to saddle him and take him on lead out to the forest and find some real gullys to walk into. If all goes well with that I'll hop on him and ride him home. If not I'm going to get a lot of exercise!

2 hours later: Huff puff pant sweat! We walked about 4 miles up and down hills and through gullys....I did get a work out. But the boy did great! I took him to what I thought was going to be a difficult ditch first because it was the closest not counting the gully from hell behind our house. He went through like it was no big deal, even stopped half way down and at the bottom. He walked slowly and never crowded me. We ended up going through 5 gullys before we got to the one behind our house. That sucker is deep, steep narrow, and has a log laying length wise down the path on our side that the horses have to step over and around on their way down. He never hesitated!  I am not believing this is the same horse that yesterday couldn't walk through a little bitty ditch with Vickie. I wish I knew what made the change, whether it was the prep work I did with him this morning, was it having a halter on to be led by instead of his bridle, was it Vickie giving him conflicting cues, was it me not having an agenda???? Who knows. I promised him if he went through the gully from hell I would put him up for the day. He did, so I turned him loose and will wait until tomorrow to ride him. Will probably just ride in the arena, kind of a getting to know you again ride for both of us. Then Sunday if I can talk Lew into riding with me maybe we can venture into the forest.

Nov 2: Didn't ride yesterday so I rode both Lex and Amigo today. It was really cool this morning and both horses were a little fresh. Lex was good but had trouble keeping his focus on me. We finally got there though and he got to bending better. We worked on getting his back up and staying collected through transitions. Walk, halt, walk, gait, walk, gait, halt. He was doing pretty well but didn't want to stay collected at the halt and started chewing the bit. Once he finally came to terms with the fact I was not going to let him slop into a halt he got better. Toward the end of the ride he wanted to canter.Maybe he thought if he could just canter I'd quit bugging him! I like that he was offering but I don't want him to get in the habit of cantering out of gait so today I didn't let him canter. I sure like what he's giving me though. He is turning into quite a nice horse.
Amigo was real fresh and I have not ridden him for a month since he's been with Vickie. Today was our getting to know you again ride. He wants to move right out as soon as your seat hits the saddle. Not acceptable. So we worked on that a little. Then he wanted to move out at a gait or faster. Vickie has been letting him do that but I don't want him to speed up until I ask for it so we started the ride just walking and halting. Once he started settling down I started trying some leg yields. He's pretty good going to the left and getting off my right leg but going to the right he pushes into my left leg and gets crooked. And he gets pissy. So we worked on that until I got some semblence of a left leg yield and his attitude got better. He needs lots of pets so I was just asking for one or two good steps and then letting him stop and get his pets. Once that got done and he was in a happier frame of mind I asked him to speed up to his flat walk. He can do it all the way around the arena now and do a 20 meter circle too, both directions. He wanted to trot but for some reason my saddle was throwing me forward and I was fighting it the whole time so trotting didn't feel like the thing to do. I had planned on also riding him over the huge 3 tier step up and down that Lew made but chickened out. Amigo got it into his head he didn't have to stop about half way through our ride and kept pulling through the bit! Not acceptable! So I had him gait, halt, walk, halt, etc until he got better at the halt. A couple of times when he blew through my halt cue I did one rein stops. At first that pissed him off but once he understood that I was asking nicely first and only yanked him around if he blew me off, he got a lot more polite about stopping and he got over his snit. I did lead him over the 3 tier before I rode him. He was just in a halter and he went right over the thing but tripped going up and coming down he missed a step and ended up diving off the thing. It was awkward. But after I had him repeat it about 6 times he was stepping carefully up, stopping at the top and going down one step at a time, real nice. Then after our ride I took him back out there and we walked over it with me leading him in his bridle. He had a little trouble at first and didn't want to go but I gave him lots of space and he finally figured it out. I learned that some of our trouble getting him through those gullys may have been that we were leading him in a bridle....that seems to be an issue for him. Maybe he is worried about the way the bit feels or something....who knows....but he got better with practice. I may try to ride him again this afternoon when it's warmer and if he's a little more at ease (and me too) then we may try to ride the 3 tier.

A couple of hours later, same day: It was warmer this afternoon and all the horses were up by the barn so I caught Amigo. Sure enough he, and I, were both more relaxed this afternoon. I worked in the arena on halting and then decided he needs to learn about half halts. I use those all the time going down hills and doing other obstacles so he must understand the concept. I doubt Vickie has done much with him in this respect as her job was to get him ok with moving out with a rider. So today I asked him to walk a regular walk and relax. Then I asked him to slow down as much as he can without stopping. The idea is to take one step at a time and be able to halt at any time but still maintain forward movement. He couldn't do it but was able to get down to three or four steps with a pause. Not bad for a first try. Sometimes then I'd ask for him to speed up and even gait and sometimes I ask for a halt and just sit there petting him. He didn't seem to mind this lesson at all. And with practice he did seem to start to understand but just couldn't pull it off. So we got some good stuff done and I got off and took him to the tack area to get the saddle off. On the way I decided to lead him out to the 3 tier step. Once we got there he lined up real nice next to the thing so I hopped on. He was totally relaxed and with me so I lined him up to walk over it and let him decide what he wanted to do. He walked right up to the top, paused, and walked down the other side just as calmly and sweet as could be! Wow! I don't know what I expected but really I didn't expect him to do it so beautifully. What a champ! I love this horse!
« Last Edit: November 02, 2014, 02:59:10 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2014, 08:15:41 pm »

Oh boy, wow!!! This afternoon Vickie came over and we rode in the forest again. This time I rode Amigo, she rode Dodah. All I can say is Mi Amigo is a rock star! He was so good. He took the lead right away. My other horses were in the pasture next to the trail we rode out on and of course Lex the trouble maker had to come up to the fence to see what we were doing. Amigo totally ignored him and kept to the trail, didn't even slow down to sniff noses. Then once we got into the forest he seemed a little insecure at first but I assured him he had been here before and he just headed on out. When we came to the first log, which is a pretty good sized one, he didn't want to cross it. I just let him sniff it and paw it, let him have his head and just sat on him. I didn't push him to cross it, just let him take his time. It didn't even take a minute before he was stepping over that log and that was the only time during the ride that he had a problem. He crossed huge logs, went through all the ditches, everything, not a bit of hesitation! Vickie was blown away. For about the first half of the ride he needed pretty constant contact. He wasn't trying to speed up or anything but he seemed to get a little lost if I dropped the reins. But later on he relaxed more and I could drop the reins and he just walked along. When we headed back to the house Dodah knew the ride was almost over and he put on his fast walk and got out in front. Amigo kept up with him but when we came to obstacles he would slow down and cross them carefully and didn't seem to care if Dodah got further ahead. Honestly this horse is soooo good. Considering he's only 4 and only has 30 days...... And considering he was so worried about crossing obstacles and then got over his fear in only 3 days!!! Good grief! So the lesson we learned while training Amigo....this horse is so willing, if he balks or refuses to do something, it's not because he's being a butthead, it's because he thinks he CAN'T do the thing. Huge difference there. I tell you what....this is my first Morgan.....if this is typical of the breed, I'm sold! I cannot wait to ride him again! It's supposed to be rainy all week so I may be limited to the arena but that's ok, we need to work on half halts, lateral work, slow work, and gaiting.....plenty to keep us busy!

Nov 8: Rode Amigo this morning in the arena. First ride in 5 days. I expected him to be maybe rushy and certainly looky loo but he actually was really good and didn't once try to do an unauthorized speed up. I decided he's ready to start serious lateral work. So far he understands turn on the haunches under saddle and does that real well and very softly. He understands turn on the forehand from the ground but not under saddle and he just barely gets leg yield under saddle....sometimes. I think the turn on haunches is easier for him because he is built uphill and tends to weigh the rear end more and lighten up in front. Anyway today we started learning turn on the forehand under saddle. I usually start teaching this from a standstill but Amigo doesn't understand that and keeps wanting to move his front instead of his rear. So I put him walking on a small circle....really small....and cued him with my inside leg to step under and over with his inside leg. It usually took circling several times before he would step under but when he did I would release him and pet and let him walk out. Lex had trouble with this too, doing barrel rolls and not being able to separate the front from the rear and it took a long time for him to figure it out. Will be interesting to see how long it takes Amigo. I repeated the lesson maybe 5 times on each side and then quit before Amigo had a chance to get bored or frustrated. Will ride him again tomorrow. I think when they are trying to learn something new it's best to keep the lessons short and to not drill.

I rode Lex yesterday in the arena and wow, that horse is going to spoil me! We worked on collecting. Lots of collected walk, halt, walk, gait. He acted like he wanted to canter some so we did canter transitions from a walk in both directions. He can now canter easily on a 20 meter circle both leads, he's starting to learn to collect at the canter and he is picking up his leads every time now. Taking the canter from a walk is getting easier now too. I practiced the intro dressage tests....sort of...at least I got most of the elements if not in the right order....and he is pretty darn good. There is a definate change between his working walk, his flat walk and his extended walk. He does real nice halts when I remember to collect him and ride him into the halt....duh. The only problem I had with him was he has started trying to get above the bit now. This may just be an attempt to avoid collecting. I don't think the problem is with the bit because this is the same bit he's used for several years now but who knows, maybe it bothers him now that I'm riding him with a little more contact even though I try to keep a drape in the reins....will have to pay close attention to when he flips his head....

Nov 9: Great ride on Amigo today. He was a little more inclined to speed up today but not so much that it worried me. I would just put him in about a 10 meter circle, gently, and let him go back to a walk by himself and then turned it into turn on the forehand. Worked great. I only had to do this twice, and frankly I could have just asked him to slow down without the circles but I figured they made a good training op. I got several real good turns on the forehand today. He seems to be understanding the concept pretty well and doesn't mind trying. When I tried to do a couple of turn on haunches though he gave me turn on forehand. Little guy is not understanding yet to separate the front and rear....not surprising. I also asked for his gait on a 20 meter circle both ways. He couldn't maintain gait through a whole,circle but he tried. I guess he just doesn't have the balance and/or strength yet. He actually wanted to trot some of the circle. I still can't decide if I want to encourage that trot yet. Right now he seems equally inclined to gait or trot and both are darn smooth. I've been encouraging the gait though and if he trots I don't correct him, I just allow him to slow down and then ask again for gait. Am hoping to get to ride in the forest tomorrow if I can round up someone to ride with.

Nov10: Got a forest ride on Amigo. The bad news is he still has problems with gullys. The real spooky one that he couldn't cross when Vickie was riding him is still too scary for him as he totally balked with me today at that same spot. I got off and led him through it but it took a pretty long time to get him to follow me. But I got it done without him getting scared or frustrated.....he was eating grass the whole time once he realized there wasn't going to be a battle. He did go through all the other ditches on the ride and went over all the logs too. The good news is when my friend's horse got tangled up in some brambles and got scared and sort of crashed through the brush.....noisy but no body got hurt....it scared Amigo but all he did was jump forward one step and then stopped and stood still while the other horse finished bulldozing through the brush. So yea. The other good news is he's starting to neck rein! I have not worked on this at all but somehow he is picking it up. He isn't real reliable yet and I sure wouldn't expect him to be able to navigate a tight trail yet but he is starting to get the feel of it. And finally when we got home I asked for him to do a 180, not really expecting him to do it but he did! Both ways! What a good boy. If it's not too cold and/or rainy tomorrow I plan on riding him out to the horrible scary horse eating gully and using a halter with a very long lead, send him through that gully as many times as it takes for him to decide he can navigate the thing. I expect this to take several hours as at no time will I try to force him. I will set him up to go through it and then wait for him to decide how to do it.

Nov 14: Finally got back out in the forest with Amigo. I was armed with halter, 20 ft lead rope and horse cookies. Amigo was saddled and his bridle was strapped to the saddle as I planned to lead him out, work the gully and ride him home. On the way I pinned the trail and marked several trails with descriptions....comes in handy when I'm walking and need the shortest route home. So out we went, me leading, Amigo following and grabbing snacks along the way. I didn't get too crazy about correcting that because I wanted this experience to be a little bit fun for him. We got to the scary ditch and he put on the brakes. I asked him to walk up to the ditch but before he could balk I stopped him, gave him a treat and petted him. Then I backed him up several steps and started over. Doing this I got him half way down the slope into the ditch. At the point he could get that far and was relaxed enough to grab snacks I got in the bottom of the ditch, let the lead out so it was draped, and just stood there. I never pulled on the lead, I just waited on him. When he acted like he was thinking about stepping closer to me I jiggled the horse cookies in my pocket. That did it. He wanted those cookies more than he feared the ditch so he came on down and we stood at the bottom, in the water, and let him explore and relax. Then up the other side, turn around and back down into that ditch. We did this 4 or 5 times until he was following me with his head down, one step at a time and not rushing through. Whole lesson took maybe 15 minutes. My plan was to ride him home but he was so excited about the cookies and a little high to be headed home I decided to not ride him. Once we got back home I rode him in the arena and got some nice trot, gait and bending. Also started working on "move out" a la Michael Schaffer. Since he is not "getting" leg yield the way I usually teach it, I thought I'd try this method and see if it works better since we've already been teaching him to bend around our inside leg. All told, good lessons today. This horse rocks!
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 12:53:57 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!

zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2014, 05:06:44 pm »

I started down this path of horsemanship in 1999, I think, when I started taking dressage lessons on my twh Blue. I was having trouble getting him to gait and I also knew that even though I had been riding since the tender age of 2, I was not an educated rider. Dumb luck steered me toward a lady that not only is a very accomplished dressage trainer, she also strictly adheres to classical methods. I have a much greater appreciation for this now but then I just knew I liked the way she did things. I learned so much from her. When I got Lex in 2008 I thought I had a pretty good handle on this training thing. I used what I knew but I also borrowed some from the "big name" clinicians until I started to understand a lot of what they were teaching was not sending me in the direction I wanted to go. Specifically I refer to the practice of flexing. The way CA teaches it....pulling the head around, holding them in that flexed position.....seemed to only make Lex more heavy on the forehand than he already was. Yes he needed to get his head down....he was of the swan neck persuasion.....very inverted and hollow....and those flexes got his head down but then I had the problem of him rooting and diving his front end down. So then I started twirling his head a la dr Deb. That was better and got him less on his forehand and combined with all the lateral work I was doing he started gaiting a little better and certainly was soft and responsive. BUT I still couldn't get him to raise his back and the base of his neck no matter how much lateral work we did or how low he held his head. It just wasn't happening and showed up in the way he gaited....flat and usually still step pacy or racky, and the canter....flat and strung out. I tried so hard to get his rear end under him but I just couldn't do it. We'd have flashes of brilliance but it never lasted. Then I had Vickie ride him thinking maybe she could show me how to get him using his back. What I saw her doing was lifting his shoulders! Huh? Later, in the privacy of my own arena I tried lifting him and gosh oh gosh! He collected! He gaited! He cantered! The feeling is like I'm scooping and lifting a little baby bird. Literally there is almost no tension on the reins. I'm not saying I've arrived in training nirvana or have totally figured out the whole collection mystery but I finally feel like I may be on the right path. I spent today teaching him to drop his head when I lift the inside rein toward his ear. The effect is to get him to arch his neck and raise the base of his neck which also raises his back. I got that back waayyyy up today at a walk with almost no effort on my part. Lex, however, thought it was a lot of work! So we only practiced that for a few minutes. This is the technique Michael Schaeffer uses. I had read about this quite awhile ago but couldn't understand how it would be better than head twirling and lateral work. Well at least in Lex's case it works a lot better! Of course having him so soft to the bit and my legs and having him so adept at moving laterally is essential and I'm guessing that had I tried to do this before he had those skills I would not have had this much success. I'm pretty jazzed. I think I'm going to start Amigo out this way....lifting the rein to get his head down. He already does it pretty well anyway....he has never been ridden hollow, doesn't even know how to move that way, he goes either in a rounded frame or neutral by nature. I think teaching him collection will not be the struggle it has been with Lex. I have started teaching him to move laterally....just ground work now....after three lessons he is able to do a pretty good leg yield in both directions with his head down, his body softly bent and his legs crossing over. He still loses his balance after a couple of steps but every day he gets better. When we started he would get pretty mad at me when I asked him to step over. Forcing him by making my cue bigger only made him more confused and madder. But when I showed him how to drop his head and bend, then timed my very gentle cue with his steps and just allowed him to figure out how I wanted him to move.....that worked perfectly and was falling off a log easy! Amigo seems to be the polar opposite of Lex in his personality. Wow he is forcing me to go through a steep learning curve. But he is also teaching me a better way of training which is all about small steps, setting him up and letting him figure it out. When I can do that everything is sooooo easy.
Sooooo  I guess this may be another layer of the onion.....every time I think I have it all figured out I discover I've barely scratched the surface. The thing is I wish one of my trainers could have just told me all this stuff. Maybe they did but I wasn't at a place that I could hear or understand. I know that was somewhat true when I was taking those dressage lessons. I remember things she tried to help me do that, at the time I could not understand the point of. Oh well I guess that's what I love so much about this sport, you never stop learning. Ok now I've talked myself into finding another instructor!

Nov 20: wowsa! I had great rides today on both Lex and Amigo! I rode Lex in the forest with a friend that does a lot of endurance rides. She usually rides a lot faster than I do but today she was kind enough to ride with me at a slower pace. My hope was to start riding Lex faster on the trails and to try to get him able to gait with another horse withput losing his mind. Well he did pretty well. At the beginning, when my friend took off trotting Lex did get all wonky and worried. I had to one rein him to settle him down. So I got in front and set him up to gait. He did the sweetest little run walk....so smooth...but not the right speed for my friend. That gait was too fast for her horse to walk and too slow for his trot. So. Then I asked Lex for a bit more speed and got a nice rack. The cool thing was while he was racking I kept asking him to arch his neck and drop his head....that one raised rein thing.....and he got nice and round and still was able to rack! I thought for sure he'd be forced to trot but he wasn't. We gaited over some pretty uneven ground too and some logs without any tripping. Once he seemed to be more settled we put my friend in front again. Lex was better this time. He still got worried but I was able to straighten him out and ask him to drop his head and he rated. We rode 12 miles and that whole ride was done mostly in gait or canter with short walks in between for him to catch his breath....he's out of shape. I discovered that when he gets tired he is inclined to either trot or canter, mostly canter. We even tried some little jumps today. All told the ride went better than I expected and for sure Lex and I are both getting more comfortable with speed.
Then this afternoon I hopped on Amigo. For this whole week all I've done with him is ground work trying to get him to understand lateral movement. Today I just felt like hopping on to see if he was any closer to understanding. He did great! He is bending real well through the corners....inside rein up, inside leg on him to tell him to move out to the corner. That went so well I decided to try leg yields. He didn't do them perfectly but he got the general idea. There was no resistance but there was some confusion on his part. The good news is he didn't get at all worried and didn't get mad when I corrected him. A huge improvment!

Nov 25: My old Red horse died today. He was 26 or 27 ish and never sick a day in his life until 2 weeks ago when he started going off his feed a little. Was eating his pellets but not his hay. His left eye blew up with uveitis which he's not had a bout of in 16 years....suddenly squinty, teary, painful, and totally blind now....not just mostly blind like he's been since I got him. He slammed into a gate pretty hard with his head on his blind side and I thought that's why he wasn't eating so well but now it looks like something else was going on. His life was apparently pretty sucky before my friend Charlene rescued him. She gave him to me because he was mostly blind in that left eye and she felt she couldn't sell him like that. My husband rode him for many years on trail rides in Missouri and Tennessee and had many good miles on him. Red was a very honest horse, always gave his best, always tried. He was retired 8 years ago...much deserved...and got to live out his life in a big pasture with his friends. We will miss him.

Nov 30: I rode both Lex and Amigo today. It was real windy and kind of coolish and both horses were high. I haven't ridden either horse in at least a week which usually is not an issue with my guys but today...hoowee. Even Lex needed to run around in the arena for a few minutes before he could settle and focus. I had gotten on him but he felt like he was just looking for an excuse to shy so I got off and removed his bridle and told him to move. He moved alright! Full out run, buck and slide into the rail at the end of the arena...rinse and repeat! I let him go until he was asking to come to me and able to walk when I asked him to circle around me. So then I got back on and he was his usual good little self. So glad I have that arena! Anyway about all I did with him today was work on getting him to drop his head and lift his neck and back. Mostly I just worked him through the corners looking for a good soft bend and for him to keep his back up the whole time. We also practiced halting and stepping off with that back up. Then I had him back one step, go forward, back one step, go forward....all in a very collected frame. He is getting much much better at this and I don't feel like I have to hold him in collection so much as remind him to hold himself....at least at a walk.
Amigo was also pretty high....which for him means he wants to look at everything outside of the arena and not pay any attention to me. He wasn't at all rushy but really wasn't listening. I did let him loose in the arena with saddle on but no bridle before I got on him but he was not interested in running and pretty much wanted to stay near me. So I got on and worked on his bends through the corners. He is actually better at this than Lex, I guess because he was started this way from the get go. Anyway he is bending real well through the corners so I decide to try some leg yeilds. He is getting better! His yield off my left leg is darn good, almost too good as he almost wants to do a side pass. Off my right leg....not so good. He will either try to bend but keep going straight rather than stepping over, or he'll try to side pass. So today he got all crooked and confused and had to halt. I let him but then I continued asking for that leg yield without letting him walk out of it. There was some slight argument but he finally figured out what I wanted and then I got a really nice leg yield. I rewarded him by getting off. It seems the key with him is figuring out when he's saying "no, I can't do this, I don't understand" vs "no I don't want to do this". You have to push him through the "I don't wanna" but if you try to push him through the "I can't do this" he will certainly shut down and gets resentful. I am still trying to learn the difference.

Dec 4: Good little ride on Amigo yesterday in the arena. He was focused from the beginning which was nice. Before I got on, I turned him loose in the arena and asked him to follow me over some obstacles. I had put down a blue tarp and then layed several landscape timbers over it to hold it in place. I asked Amigo to follow me over and he did. But when he got to the blue tarp he had to stop and sniff and then he started pawing....and pawing....and pawing. He got it out from under the timbers and wadded it up underneath his body so that it was all tangled up around and under his legs. Huummm.....I'm thinking he could explode any second as soon as he figures out his feet are tangled up. I couldn't figure out how to get him untangled without putting myself in a dangerous position. While I pondered, he stepped out of the tangle walked a few feet away from the tarp and then went back to play with it some more! Silly boy. He even picked it up and flopped it around and walked around with it hanging out of his mouth for awhile!  So I guess fear of blue tarp is not going to be a problem. Then I got on and started working him through the corners and then attempted some leg yields....he did them, both directions! I had set up some cones and was able to get him to zig zag through them by leg yielding between them! He could only go between three cones before he lost his balance but still that is a huge improvement! The I asked for turn on the forehand and got the turns in both directions by just lifting the inside rein to ask for the bend, hold the outside rein slightly to keep him from walking forward, and just barely touching him behind the girth with my inside leg. He moved over so softly from my leg. Seriously I barely had to touch him! Then I tried turn on the forehand and he stepped over so soft and all I did was open my inside rein and leg. Wow! I continue to be amazed at how easy this horse is to train compared to Lex. Really, if you show him gently and in small steps, and then let him think about it, he figures it out! He seems to be confirming my suspicions that a lot of these very unreactive horses.....ones that most people, including myself would call stubborn or stupid....are really very sensitive. But instead of reacting to stimuli by trying to flee like a more reactive horse would do, this type will just shut down if they get too much stimuli. Most trainers will caution that a shut down horse is more likely to suddenly explode. I don't believe there is anything sudden about their explosions. I believe they shut down or withdraw for a long time until they can't stand it any more and that's when the human gets a big surprise. So the trick, since these horses tend to be not very demonstrative, is to pick up on their very subtle signals that they are not ok and then SLOW DOWN!  With Amigo if he puts an ear back he's not ok, if fact this usually means he has had enough and the next thing he will do will be very unpleasant. If he paws he may not be ok but more likely he's thinking through a problem....like the tarp. If he stops and refuses to go forward, he is usually not ok. If he flares his nostrals he's not ok. If his head comes up he's not ok. If I can feel any tension in his body he's not ok. If you try to push him through whatever is bothering him you will eventually get in a fight. Vickie discovered this when she tried to push him through that scary gully. But he is so willing that if you give him time to process things then he will stay ok with whatever you are trying to do. Now that I think about it....slowing down seems to be the fix for a lot of the horses I've worked with, even the hyper reactive ones like Dodah and Scarlett. So next time your horse refuses to cross that ditch or go over that culvert....instead of kicking harder and getting bigger with your cues....try to slow down. Sit quietly and let the horse think! Keep him facing the object but don't ask him to do anything else, just sit there. You may find after a few minutes he'll take a step toward the scary thing. Several minutes later he may actually walk up to the thing. In this situation I never ask my horses to move on down the trail until they start looking for grazing ops while standing next to the scary thing. At that point they are ok to move on.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2015, 05:03:49 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #33 on: December 04, 2014, 05:38:39 pm »

It's been two weeks since I took Amigo out in the forest to work on going through the scary gully. He has not been out there since. Today Vickie came over and we rode the horses out there....she on Dodah, me on Amigo. Amigo was not too excited about going out. I had penned up all the other horses and I guess he wanted to stay with them. He kept wanting to turn around but it was pretty easy to correct him and didn't take much to get him going out. Dodah was in front the whole ride. What I really love is Amigo was completely unconcerned about where Dodah was. A couple of times Dodah got out of sight and Amigo didn't act like he noticed! The couple of times we sped up Amigo chose to trot and he went real calmly right beside Dodah while Doobee was gaiting. Going over the logs was no problem, even a couple of huge ones that the horses both had to really think about where they put their feet. I hope later on when he gains more confidence, he'll be ok with jumping those big logs. The big news was he went right through the scary gully! He remembered the work we did two weeks ago! I LOVE THIS HORSE!!!!!! He had to stop and look real close....nose nearly to the ground as he carefully picked his way down the path. But he did it and all I had to do was stay balanced and quiet and let him work it out. Then when he got to the bottom he looked around and sniffed the water and then tried to go up the other side by going on the wrong side of a tree that is kind of in the middle of the path. I was able to easily correct him and get him lined up on the correct path and he just walked up that path real calmly. So all good. The other thing I was able to start doing today was little halfhalts to set him up for going over the logs. He was listening to my direction much better, especially in tight or difficult crossings. He let me direct his feet so that I could set him up and then just sit there and let him do it. Such a sweet sweet boy. Then when we got home I took him around the arena where he's never been. He had to walk past pink Floyd and the happy gargoyle....2 little statues that cover the septic clean outs. He kept a close eye on the statues but he walked past them and then I took him over to the big steps that Lew made out of those huge timbers. He went right up and over so carefully and so easy. What a joy.

Dec5: Just sitting here looking forward to tomorrow. I'm riding my boy Dodah in a trail challange at a local ranch. Going to be riding with Vickie so it should be fun. I hope I can keep myself relaxed enough that Dodah doesn't get wound up....when he does that he starts trying to anticipate what I want and sometimes that isn't such a good thing. No matter how we do though we'll have fun.
I was talking about how undemonstrative the less reactive horses like Amigo are. Their signals that they are upset or have a problem can be very subtle. I thought of my issues with Amigo not wanting to stand still at the mounting block.. What happened was....when I rode him at Vivian's using her saddle, he stood rock still for me to get on and this was when he was just starting to learn how to carry a rider. When I brought him to my house I started using Lex's saddle which I knew didn't fit him well but I figured it would be ok for the few minutes at a time that I rode him. After a few rides he started stepping away from the mounting block, maybe just one step. I figured he was just going through a "I don't wanna do this" phase so I spent a lot of time at the mounting block getting him used to me standing there, gently correcting him when he moved and he got better but still not as good as I wanted. Then he went to Vickie's and she rode him in her saddle and he was rock solid again. When I brought him back home he started moving again! So I decided the saddle may indeed be the problem so I changed saddles and that helped but still not totally solid. So I got a different pad....no improvement. So I pulled out one of my old crummy saddles which really was the best fit of all and now he stands like a rock again! I hate to think what would have happened if I had misread his moving, thinking he was just being a butthead, and punished him....or worse what would he have done if I had ignored his signal. Maybe bucking? Maybe turning a sweet willing horse into a resentful resistant one. I'm not saying that all horses that move away when the rider tries to get on do so because their saddle hurts them, there are lots of reasons for that behavior. What I am saying is Amigo is sooo quiet in expressing himself I have to listen carefully!

Dec 6: WE ROCKED IT!!!!!!!  We got first place at the trail challenge. Dodah was a rock star. The only person I knew at this ride was Vickie and yet when they announced that I won first, people I didn't even know were hootin and hollerin! Dodah impressed a bunch of folks today. They were so impressed at how well he behaved and how trusting he is when I ask him to do the obstacles and him only having one eye. Of course he doesn't think its any big deal. Anyway Dodah is the best horse in the world for sure! It was a great day.

Dec 12: Good ride on Lex today. I rode with Sylvia again and we worked on speed. Lex was a total slug at the beginning and I even had to get Sylvia out in front to get Lex motivated. He would gait behind her and stay straight and not get rushy or goofy so I was happy. Then he suddenly woke up and all of a sudden he was pulling on me, tryong to crab sideways and doing his runaway immitation. The good news is I was able to straighten him and get him to give to the bit and drop his head. Once I got that he was much more comfortable gaiting along and once he settled I let his walk and then put him back in front. We continued to swap positions during the ride and over all Lex kept his brain between his ears. The really fun thing with this ride is Lex discovered trotting! He has tried to trot before but couldn't seem to stay with it. Today we probably trotted a half mile at a time and did that maybe 4 times. He was a trotting fiend through the winding trails and over all the small logs. I like that he is finally trotting because I want to do trail challenge on him and down here the gaitedhorses are at a disadvantage by not trotting through the obstacles when required. The judges all claim to not deduct points for gait but they do. So anyway the boy is trotting real well, zipping around and over stuff on the trails....it was really a lot of fun. He would do a slow round rack when I asked and then sometimes he'd pick up the softest controlled canter and then if I posted, he would break into a trot. Total fun! My boy is now 5 gaited! I guess the next thing will be to teach him to jump. He tried a couple of times today but he needs much more exposure. I'll probably set up some jumps in the arena and lunge him over them until he is confident and can go over a 12 to 24" jump easily before I ride him over any logs.

I also rode Amigo this evening. I used my trekker treeless saddle and he seemed fine with it. The girth was too long (30") and interfered with my leg so my leg cues were not very effective but still he did well with all his lateral work and gave me decent leg yields. I am one step closer to ordering a new treeless saddle for him. The old cheap treed saddle I use on him now fits him great but it kills my seat so I gotta do something.

Dec 14: Again in the arena on Amigo with the treeless. He seems fine with it but I feel pitched forward a little. Also I'm a bit on guard just because it's treeless and I worry about him shying. Stupid, I know...he rarely shys and the saddle is pretty solid, but still..... So I'm doing the butt clench and Amigo knows it so he's thinking there must be something to worry about so we both tippy toe around for awhile until we can relax. I still think treeless will work for him. I adjusted the panels on this one a little closer together at the front to try to tip it up a little and will see how that works on the next ride. Other than that Amigo feels a little more free I think and for sure he's as comfortable as with the other saddle. I think I also need to take the stirrups up a notch. What I don't like about this saddle is the way the billits attach. I had them removed and placed farther back to try to fit Roger years ago. On Amigo they are too far back and they really interfere with my legs. Even with the more appropriate length....26"...girth. My feet bang into the buckles. Yuck. But I can tough it out for now while I see if he is going to go well in treeless. The test will be how well he does on the trail..... 10 miles should be a good test. His lateral work is getting much much better. He understands leg yield now and often does them well. But sometimes he has trouble and I can correct him and get him going correctly now and he doesn't get all upset and pissed. He is starting to understand the outside rein a little. 180's are good too. I have not started sidepass yet or backing in a circle. He is walking over tarps and over just about anything I can think of to make him walk over. I haven't tried dragging anything yet and haven't tried picking up the hula hoops or garocha but I have exposed him to them from the ground and he didn't care.

Dec16: Did the Tuesday ride on Maisey today. That little stinker is getting fun to ride. Today she hopped over the really huge logs and walked over the smaller ones and I didn't have to correct her on any of them. The group wanted to trot so miss Maisey did her best to keep up in gait but she couldn't do it. So then she tried to canter but she is seriously out of practice and kept changing from gait to canter and back again. It felt like riding on a blender! Combine the total lack of consistant gait with some head tossing and neck wringing....whew! I guess I can say my balance is pretty good because I never felt insecure but what a work out! Ugh! I need to ride her a LOT more. Her walk is by far her best gait, very fast and darn smooth too.
Riding Amigo tomorrow with Barbara. I plan to take him through some of the most difficult gullys. If he can do all of them without refusing then I'll feel like he's ready to ride with the group as long as it's a small group and they go fairly slowish. When I think back....Maisey actually had less experience and knew much less than Amigo does now when I first got her and we were riding her on a big trail ride in the mountains!
« Last Edit: December 16, 2014, 03:09:23 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #34 on: December 18, 2014, 07:10:53 am »

I'm beginning to learn to tell the difference between Amigo saying "no" vs "I can't do this" vs "what is THAT". He says no when I ask him to do something he has already done several times. I know he knows how to do it and is not afraid. It usually happens at the beginning of a ride when we get to the first obstacle. He will approach the obstacle, usually a log, lower his head, snif the log, maybe paw at it, and the he shifts into reverse. He will keep backing as long as I urge him to go forward! I have learned to deal with this by making him work when he backs up....small circles, turn on forehand, whatever. Then I let him stop and rest facing the obstacle. Eventually he will approach it. I leave him alone as long as he faces the object and doesn't back up. He will eventually step over the log or whatever the obstacle is.

When he tells me he can't do something his body language is different. He will approach the thing....usually a ditch or drop off, and stop. His head goes up and his body gets tense. He may spin to get away if I push him. In this mode the only thing that I've found that works is to dismount and work him through it from the ground, giving him plenty of time to figure out how to do it. Once he has things figured out I can mount up and ride him through. I believe as he gains experience with being ridden over lots of different terrain he will gain enough confidence in his ability to balance and in my ability to keep him safe that he will no longer need me to do the ground work. Yesterday on our ride in the forest he went through all the scary ditches, he was in the lead too. I even took him through the ski slope ditch which is about 30 feet deep and the sides are bare clay which gets slick when it's wet. The clay was soft yesterday but not slick and Amigo didn't hesitate.He had never seen that ditch before and he just walked down into it real slowly and carefully. He let me guide his feet too and on the other side he walked up rather than running up like most of the other horses want to do.

He also gets fearful when he sees things on the trail that he doesn't recognize. I took him on a new trail yesterday and several times he got scared by big logs laying beside the trail and once some white mold on a tree got his attention. I call this his "concern mode". In this mode he's concerned but doesn't fear for his life. He does his best fresian horse imitation.He will walk past the scary thing but keeps his eye on it the whole time. So far he hasn't been one to shy. He may startle in place but that's all. I like that he will go past the object even though he is a little scared. Lex will totally not go past a scary object. He has to stop and look at it until he figures out it isn't going to get him. Once he can approach the object and touch it then he's good to go. Different horses, different coping mechanism.

I also got Amigo to trot on the trail....woopee! We went a pretty long way and he seemed to enjoy it. Another thing I noticed yesterday....I realized I never had to tell him to watch his feet! He is the most surefooted horse I've ridden in a long time. Love that!

Dec 22: Took Amigo to Vickies for a lesson this am. It was coolish and the wind was blowing pretty hard and all her horses were high....running around the pastures and bucking and playing....and her dogs were busy chasing the horses so all told, it was a great test for Amigo! I wanted to see how he would handle being trailered somewhere and then saddle and hop on with little or no warm up time. He was great! He was a little nervous getting in the trailer both going and coming home and it took him a couple of tries each time before he could get all four feet loaded. But I let him take his time and he hopped up into the trailer with little real problem. No whip needed. Once at Vickie's he was very lookie loo but never did anything wrong. I had him do lots of circles and serpentines and practiced halting, backing and forward for quite awhile. I could not get myself comfortable enough to trot him today though....wahhhh. I'm such a chicken sometimes. ButVickie wanted to ride him so I hopped off and she hopped on and gaited him a little and then asked him to trot. We are trying to teach him to do both and he seems to be getting it. His gait right now is more of a real fast walk/run walk. I would call it a run walk if it was just a tad faster and if he lifted more in front. Maybe it falls into the flatwalk catagory. Then to trot all you have to do is ask for more speed and start posting. He still wants to stop or slow to a walk when you ask for a direction change...hasn't quite got that balance thing going yet. So Vickie worked on that by asking him to bend a little and then keep going forward. She didn't try to guide him really, just keep him going and he would just follow his nose eventually. I will start working on this in my arena now that I know what I need to do. Before, I think I was trying to micromanage too much..... The interesting thing was when he wanted to rest from troting he asked to gait! So she let him gait as a reward for trotting! I think that's pretty cool. Then after she was done riding him I sat with him in the arena while she worked with another horse. Amigo actually put his head in my lap and let me hug him! That is a first! He's starting to accept human affection and doesn't seem quite as aloof as when I first got him. Yea! Still not a pocket pony though, but certainly more aware of and involved with his human.

Dec25: Waiting to go to my brothers for Christmas so not much going on. I started teaching Amigo to come to me at the mounting block.....again. I started this a couple of months ago but quit to work on other things. Now seems to be a good time to go back to it. I usually start this lesson by having the horse stand next to a fence or wall and I usually have them in a bridle. While holding the bridle I stand at their shoulder and cue over the top of their hip with a dressage whip. Light rythemical taps until they make some kind of move toward me, could be as subtle as leaning in my direction. Then stop tapping and reward. I had gotten Amigo to the point he understood to move part of his body toward me before I quit the lessons. When I started the lessons yesterday he remembered he needed to move something toward me so he tried moving his shoulder. Not quite what I wanted but I took it and then kept trying. He finally got to moving the front end and then ever so slightly the rear end. Better. Today I got more insistant that he move his rear end toward me as that is the part he tries to swing away when I'm standing on the mounting block. He finally understood what I wanted and I got a good intentional step so I quit. Once he is consistant and intentional with his response I'll move to the center of the arena and ask him to come to me. When he can do that I'll be ready to ask from the mounting block. Dodah spoiled me years ago when he learned this exercise in 15 minutes. Once he understood what I wanted I never had to ask him again. All I have to do is stand on something....mounting block, log, berm....and he lines up for me. What a champ. My other horses are almost as good although sometimes I have to remind them to come to me. I sure hope Amigo gets the concept pretty soon. He's not as smart as Dodah though so it's going to take longer....already he's needed two lessons and we're still on the rail. One thing I learned....or relearned with this horse....you simply can't get impatient with him. If you increase the cue while he is still in the "I don't understand " phase you will freak him out! I made that mistake and it took him five minutes and walking around to calm down and get his mind back to learning mode.

Dec 26: Fabulous day with Amigo! He has figured out the cue to come to me! Yea! I was able to take him out in the middle of the arena and ask him to bring his rear end to me and he did it every time. Sooooo the next step will be to ask him to come to me while I'm standing on the mounting block. I didn't do that today because Barbara was coming over to ride in the forest and I kind of ran out of training time. So we rode in the forest and Amigo was a super horse...of course. Today I put him behind and let Barb lead on her horse Beau. Amigo just went along real nice and today he didn't give me any lip about leaving the property or crossing the first log which was nice. At some point we changed places and he continued being a good boy in the lead. I was able to get a little gait out of him going uphill in some sand but mostly I just asked him to do a nice fast walk. A couple of times I asked him to trot and he did. He navigated all the ditches real well, even the ones with water in the bottom. We came to a small puddle in the middle of the trail at one point. There was a lot of wet gushy clay in this spot and the water had a rotten smell to it...like a lot of old leaves mixed with old cow poo. Not too attractive. Neither Amigo or Beau wanted to walk through that stuff and they kept trying to walk around it. I made Amigo go over that patch several times until he was willing to step through without veering off to one side or trying to jump over. At one point he did try to jump and on landing on the other side he tried to take off down the trail. I had to pull back pretty hard to stop him but he was totally not listening to me so I picked up one rein and hauled on it as hard as I could to bring him around to a stop. It worked although in the process we managed to barge through a pretty big patch of brambles. Amigo tried that twice and both times I had to one rein him to get him to stop. After that he walked through that puddle nice and straight and calmly! The cool thing was he learned I am not going to let him get away with avoiding stuff he is worried about and I hope he learned to trust me a little more that if something has him worried I will not let it hurt him. I learned he will not get crazy even when he doesn't want to listen to me and I can both ride him when he runs away and when I do an emergency stop. So all good. Barb never did get her horse to walk through that puddle but she at least got him to get closer to it. After all that,  I started doing frequent unannounced halts on Amigo. I would ask first with my seat, then lightly with the reins and then if he didn't stop I hauled on the reins. I figure I should probably do about a million of those! If I remember correctly I did about that many with Lex in the beginning. By the end of the ride Amigo was halting much better. It started to rain on us about half way through the ride so Amigo got his first ride in the rain.....totally not an issue for him. Then when we got back to the arena I had him gait and we did several smallish ( 10 meter ) circles, in gait. He did great! That was the first time he's been able to do that small a circle and stay in gait in both directions so I was really pleased.

Jan 3: I love rain, I love rain, I love rain....sigh. I'm sure trying to still love rain but it's getting hard. I believe it's rained for 3 days solid. At least it's not so cold that the horses are miserable. I've been able to put them in their stalls for feed and hay and let them dry out and warm up before I have to turn them back out. So far nobody has gotten the shivers so it seems they are doing good. Much better than last year when they had no shelter and not as much hay and grass. I plan to ride Amigo this afternoon if the rain stops and he can dry off enough so I can try out the new saddle without getting it all muddy.
Ok so I tried out the new saddle....cheapy little abetta flex....yuck. I used the corrector pad with it and it seemed to have more rock than I had noticed when I put it on him with no pad. The off billit was so long I had to find an old latigo to use instead....not very impressive. Then the stirrups were too long and I had them on the highest setting, sigh, and finally after dorking around the arena for maybe 20 minutes my seat was starting to feel a ridge on the right side. I'm sure after 3 hours that ridge would feel like a 2x 4! So that saddle is headed back to the store. Then I saddled Amigo up im my treeless trekker saddle. I had tried it before but this time I adjusted the panels a little closer together in front and then I used the corrector pad under it instead of the supracor pad. I felt a lot more secure today with that set up. No feeling of tipping forward either and from the beginning I was comfortable with asking for gait. Infact he seemed to gait much easier today and we were able to do a lot of circles and even serpentines mostly in gait. He gave me good leg yields in both directions too, very consistantly. His turn on forehand and haunches were about as good as it gets! He even came to me at the mounting block! Actually the only mistake he made all day was when I asked him to come to me while standing on the mounting block, he tried to get too close. I think he intentionally meant to push me with his left shoulder, but whether he intended it or not, he got a pretty strong correction. I smacked him hard on his shoulder and made him step away then made him line up correctly again. He did it correctly that time and stood perfectly still for me to climb on. So I plan to ride on this treeless saddle for awhile to see if its going to cause any problems with his back. This saddle is in bad shape....I've scavenaged parts off it, there is no seat cover so I'm sitting on velcro....haha! Boy talk about security! The problem with that is when I post it makes that velcro sound as my pants come unstuck and that sound kind of bothers Amigo. He would get used to it I'm sure but I think I'll stick a wool seat pad on there anyway. Also one of the side flaps is coming unsewed so I need to restitch that. Oh well it should hold up long enough for me to get an idea whether treeless will do for Amigo.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 09:17:44 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2015, 04:52:06 pm »

The trekker treeless continues to work well for Amigo. Today though we had a little snafu with my mounting technique. I had shortened the stirrups so that may have caused my problem, I refuse to blame old age, holiday weight gain, or simple klutziness! Anyway when I went to haul myself into the saddle it slipped a little....just enough to make me fall back onto the mounting block which then tipped over. I ended up hanging off the saddle and almost went under his stomach. Sigh, I hate getting old. I did manage to catch myself, right the mounting block and get back in a safe upright position without falling completely down. Amigo, champ that he is, stood like a statue. I'm sure he thought I lost my mind. That was weird. That saddle has never slipped like that before. The only change was today I used a longer girth that is a little less grippy and the stirrups were shorter. So I changed back to the old girth. Then I asked Amigo to come to me as I climbed up on the arena to mount up. He had no idea what I wanted and at first it scared him to see me up so high on those rails. But I gently showed him how to come around to the correct position and he sided right up and again stood like a statue for me to climb on. What a horse! The ride was all good. We worked on gait by working on increasing the speed of his walk while making large and small circles. I concentrated on keeping him in the correct bend for each direction. I did notice him pushing his left shoulder which is something Vickie had commented on too. It was easy to correct though by weighting my outside seat, lift the inside rein, and put my inside leg on. I did not get what I would call real gait today and that's ok. I wanted a really fast fast walk that was correct and even and that he could maintain through many direction changes. He did great. When I thought he was walking as fast as he could without breaking into a trot, I let him do that awhile and then asked for more speed and got it! He is definately getting stronger now. He could not have done this a couple of months ago. My plan for now....subject to change of course....is to work his walk like this until he can go all the way up to his gait while doing these exercises. Once he is strong enough and balanced enough to do that I'll start doing the same kind of work at the trot. Right now he does understand the difference in my cues for the two gaits. My job is to never push him beyond what he is physically capable of doing. What I don't want is for him to learn to default to one gait or the other when he just wants to. It may be a fine line.

Jan6: Amazing ride in the forest today. Beautiful weather....a little cold early but then warming up a lot. Dodah was his usual fantastic self....I do love that horse! I experimented with riding him with no reins. What a hoot. I could get him to leg yield left and right but actual turning....no way. Besides he knows the trails which means he knows where to turn and where not to! I ended up leaving the reins down on the pommel for most of the ride. Actually it was a lot of fun to let him take us along the trail. He was pretty good too about speeding up when I wanted and slowing back down when I wanted just by working off my seat. A couple of times he asked to canter and I let him. Now that was fun! Who knew this old (not comfortable with speed) lady could turn loose enough to let her horse canter without holding the reins? Dodah seemed to like it too, that was about the best canter he's ever given me. Then this afternoon I rode Amigo in the arena. I must have gotten some courage this morning because this afternoon Amigo and I had a fabulous ride and I finally was able to trot him in circles!!! Somehow he just felt right, balanced and not the least bit rushy and just "with me". I didn't do much warm up either, just some gaiting in circles and a few halts. The cue to trot is I just start posting. After a few steps he follows my seat and starts trotting. I kept him on a very loose rein, didn't even try to control the speed, just kept him turning and changing direction. Wow! I really thought it would be several more weeks before we'd be doing this. When I wanted to gait I'd just sit deep and quit posting and he'd drop right down to his really really fast but not quite gait walk. Same speed but different footfall. So cool. I even tried a few trotting leg yields and got them! They weren't super great but still I'm happy he tried. Then practiced having him move his rear end off my leg both sides. He is wanting to step forward when we do this so I had to show him a couple of times what I wanted before he could do it. This is in prep for canter leads. I cannot believe how fast he's coming along now. It seems like with every ride he is doing something new. I really think he's ready to ride with the Tuesday group too as long as we go slowish and there's not too many horses the first few times. Can't wait to try! Now if the weather would just cooperate!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2015, 04:01:53 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2015, 03:56:08 pm »

Last ride on Amigo was 3 weeks ago! Wow how time flies. So today some friends came over and we rode into the forest. One friend has a horse that has issues with anxiety and he gets all bent out of shape and loses his mind very easily. The other friend has an older horse that has been ridden in a poorly fitting saddle for a long time so his back is sore and he travels very inverted. We spent quite some time fitting the old guy to a different saddle....actually my boz saddle was the best choice for him out of the 8 or so that we tried. Her horse was soooo much more comfortable in that saddle! He was dropping his head and was walking out more easily with a looser stride than I've ever seen him do before. His owner said she could tell a difference right away so that is good. She will ride him in that saddle for several weeks to see if he continues to improve and if she still likes that saddle I may sell it to her. If not she can keep it until she finds a used one.
My other friend with the anxious horse did a little ground work with him in my arena before she mounted up and I showed her how to direct him in such a way as to keep him relaxed. We worked on her asking him to step away from her in a walk. She almost got it too but he just couldn't quite walk...it was a very slow jog. Still, better than the last time we did this. To keep her horse calm during the ride we had to put him in front. He immediately took off in a big fast walk and left us behind, then realized he couldn't see us and got all worried. Coof ball. So I had her walk him off and before he got worried she was to turn back to us. In the mean time we just continued walking along. Amigo was great! He didn't mind at all when her horse went off and left us and all the drama didn't faze him! Yea! At one point her horse got freaked out by something by the trail. We couldn't see what it was, could have been a deer or maybe a hog but whatever, that horse wasn't going down that trail, not no way, not no how. So I put Amigo in the lead. He knew there was a booger bear near the trail and he kept a close watch on the brush where the booger seemed to be, but he went down that trail, never even thought about spooking. I was proud for sure!
The trails were pretty soggy too so Amigo got lots of practice walking through gooey sticky mud, crossing streamlets, and sliding down wet clay hills. He didn't like it but he did it and by the end of the ride he wasn't nearly so bothered by all the goo. Also today was the first time Amigo has gone on the trail with more than one horse. He didn't even seem to notice! Really, he was just okey dokey with wherever we put him in the line up. The only thing he did today that was less than perfect was to rush down the big gully behind our house. The ground was pretty wet and soft and a little slick too so that may have been part of it but I remember the last time I took him through that gully he was a little rushy. So I plan to take him back there and walk him through it until he can go one step at a time, slowly and carefully. After we got back to our arena we took the horses out to the obstacles and had the horses go over the three tier step and the tire. I got Amigo to do it one step at a time and even stop with two feet on the bottom step and his rear feet on the top step. He thought I was nuts I'm sure but he stood there facing down hill like a champ. I figure that was good practice for what I plan to do with him in that gully. Finally today I tried several times to get him to gait but all I got was a trot. Not sure why but I'll ride him tomorrow in the treeless saddle and see if that makes any difference. I do think the cheepo abetta that I'm using now is a little narrow over his shoulders but it fits him better than any of my other treed saddles. Anyway we'll see what happens. It may be that he's just decided to be a trotting horse. Then also his little toes are getting long, he needs a trim. I noticed he tripped a couple of times today so that may also be part of it...so groan, I'll be trimming his feet tomorrow too. Ugh.

Jan 29: I rode both Lex and Amigo today in the arena with the intention of applying the techniques that were discussed in the video of Gudmar giving a lesson. Interesting experience.

 Lex is a pretty finished horse, really soft and responsive, but he doesn't use his back all that well. I've struggled with this for a long time. Part of the problem is his conformation, a bit downhill and a bit swayed in his back, and part of it is that I have been learning at the same time that I've been trying to teach him and my inexperience has made his training more difficult for both of us. Recently I had an epiffany and thought I had unlocked the key to collection with him. It's true things have gotten much better but I found I was more and more having to hold him in that frame which I know is not right. So today I tried the exercises walking long and low alternating with picking up the reins with very light, almost no contact, and asking him to slow his walk but remain long and lowish. He was able to do it easily and the feel for me was the same as when I was picking up his shoulders only I didn't feel so much like I was holding him there. Once he was doing this very well at the walk I asked him to run walk. Boy when I had him relaxed and slightly collected at the walk he was able to step right into a run walk. Then I tried circling him to get him even more collected and it worked! He was bending nicely and still staying in gait. What fun. So then I thought I'd try him in canter. He picked up his leads both directions so at least we seem to have that little detail conquered. Usually he is pretty strung out in canter but today when I picked up the slightest contact and asked him to lift while going in a large circle, he finally started using his back and coming under. Finally! Out on the trail he is so much more motivated so he tends to use his back better but in the arena I have to push and prod with not great results. Today we seemed to "get it" with not much prodding on my part. Then I set up some patterns. I had a square with cones. The object was to walk along the outside and at each corner he had to turn 90 degrees on his forehand. Seems simple enough but he was not allowed to take an extra forward step with his front end and he had to be bend correctly through his entire body. It took a couple of tries before he did it but once he figured out I was going to require precision, he did it perfectly. Then I had him back along one side of the square, turn on the haunches also with precision, bent into the turn through his body and not moving his back feet. He had to turn all the way until he faced forward along the next side of the square. Then walk forward, turn on haunches all the way until he's in position to back along the next side. Boy this will get your horse thinking for sure!

Then I caught Amigo, trimmed his feet, put the treeless saddle on him and proceeded to do the extended walk like I did with Lex. Amigo is still just a baby with little more than 90 days under saddle all told so I didn't expect him to be able to collect much. When I ride him on the trail I ride with totally loose reins unless we are crossing some kind of obstacle so he is quite used to long and low. What I discovered is he actually collects easily. He's built for it though....uphill and a nice topline. I didn't ask him to hold the collection for more than a few steps at a time though. Once he was nice and relaxed I asked for more walk. At first he tried to trot so I slowed him down and asked again and he gave me a really fast walk. Not quite a gait yet but fast and easy for him to do. The sand in my arena is a little deep and I think that may make it easier for him to trot than gait. He does seem to move more freely in the treeless saddle but I don't like it so well. I feel tipped forward just enough that it hurts my hip and it doesn't feel secure...like it could slip in a spook. So I'm still trying to find a good saddle for him.

Feb 1: where did January go? Wow time flies. I did a little mini lesson with Amigo yesterday using the abetta saddle. That treeless saddle is just too uncomfortable for me so.... Anyway we worked a little on shortning the walk a few steps alternating with longer periods of long and low free walk. I spent actually more time working on his bending as he seemed a bit stiff to the right. This was his stiff side when I first started working with him and every once in a while he goes back to being stiff on that side....may be the saddle? I ordered a parelli saddle for him. I'm not a fan of parelli at all but I had a chance to look at the saddles when I was at my last vet conference and I liked the concept sort of. Not real sure how the whole shiming thing is going to work. And I for sure wasn't crazy about the price! Wowza! They are proud of those saddles! But Dodah and Lex both need new saddles as they are starting to get some muscle atrophy because their saddles are a little too narrow. If I can use this saddle on all three horses and only have to change the pad for each horse it will be a good thing. I think it's a long shot but what the heck, you can't take it with you and I figure if it doesn't work I'll be able to sell it and may get most of my money back....maybe.
So anyway I worked on bending Amigo, walking forward long and low and slightly shortning the walk for a few steps. Only rode him for 30 minutes because he's been ridden several times in recent days and I don't want to burn him out. I got to looking at his teeth....I thought he was five but oh no! He's only about four and a half! This means we actually started him under saddle when he was only three! Oops! Fortunately when we started him he was still living at Vivian's so only got ridden for a few minutes every month or so. He must have just been barely turning four when I got him and he's been ridden very lightly. But now that I'm clear on his age I'll be more comfortable about taking my time with his training and not doing much on gait or collection just yet. It's weird how different horses can be in their mental development. When I got Dodah he was 6 and acted like a very mature 15 yr old horse. I totally didn't believe his registration papers! But his teeth looked like he was 6 to 7 yrs so.... Then Lex who was supposed to be 4 when I got him but was really more like 3 has only matured in the past year so that he acts like he's 6 or 7 but he's really 10. And now Amigo,  who's 4 and acts like he's 8. Crazy. Oh and Amigo is over 15 hands at 4 yrs. I expect he's going to get another inch at least.
My training plan right now is to try to ride Amigo 3 to 4 times a week. One long trail ride, about 2 hrs mostly walking, and working on going over obstacles. The rest of the rides will be in the arena where I'll alternate slow lateral and collecting work with faster rides working on trot and gait. I'd like for him to eventually do low level dressage. Right now he doesn't seem to like arena work and much prefers the trail so I need to be careful to keep the arena work interesting for him, never drill, and keep the rides fairly short.
I started teaching Lex to jump this week. He is so funny....it took him several tries to figure out he could pick up both front feet at the same time! What a goof. So far he's not taking to it well. I'm not riding him over the jump yet, just lunging him. If he's going to be a klutz and fall down I'd rather not be on board! So far every one of my horses that I've taught to jump have enjoyed it once they figured out to pick up their feet. Maisey simply refuses to walk over logs anymore....she just has to hop them. And Dodah loves jumping. Roger jumps like a deer...it's about the only thing he does well.....and the other day I watched Amigo out running in the pasture. He'd set up a track for himself that circled through a little patch of woods and back out into the pasture. I saw him run that circuit around and around for maybe 10 minutes and each time he had to jump over a fairly large log in those woods. He was totally by himself and just having the best time! The other horses were watching him like he was nuts!

Feb 5: Lex was pretty good today lunging over the jump. He's wanting to trot up to the jump which is ok for now but soon I'd like him to canter. Did that for a bit then hopped on and started trying to get him long and low. He wasn't inclined to walk low and seemed rather draggy so I got my dressage whip. That woke him up and he started walking with more impulsion. Once he started that his head just natrually went down. After he had a chance to warm up I started picking him up. I gathered the reins very slowly so that he shortened his front end without raising his head and without slowing the walk. Held that for a few steps then let him out again. He got pretty good. Impulsion is the key. So then I asked for canter. At first he had to gait prior to canter but eventually he was able to transition from that collected walk. Today he had a real hard time picking up his right lead. It's been quite awhile since he's had that problem. Not sure why but he did seem pretty tight on his right side. I could not get him to twirl his head to the right no matter how much I tried. He's always been stiff on that side but usually he'll eventually be able to flex. Not sure what the problem is, may be the saddle? May be me? Who knows but if it continues then I'll have to figure it out. Sigh. I sure hope it's not the saddle I am so sick of saddle issues! Anyway when I did finally get him in a right canter I was able to ask for just a bit of collection and he sure tried. He collected better on a circle and also better on the left lead. Also today I made him canter a lot more than I've done before....no stopping until I told him to and then he couldn't just screech to a stop, he had to transition down to a walk first. Boy that was hard! So we need to do a lot more of those downward transitions for sure.

Feb 8: Oh my goodness! I just can hardly contain my glee! I LOVE MI AMIGO!!!!!! That horse is just the coolest thing, I can hardly believe he's just a baby. My niece came over today to ride with me in the forest. She has just finished her masters and for the first time in many years she's not going to school and has time to ride. Yea! So I put her on Dodah and I hopped on Amigo. We're having some work done to the arena and there are several pieces of heavy equipment in and around the arena. Amigo wanted to look all the scary stuff over but once he had a chance to look and sniff he was fine with everything. I saddled him and hopped on with no preliminary ground work at all, just hopped on and took off down the trail. Amigo led. The last few times I've ridden him he's been a little reluctant to leave the property....just telling me politely he wanted to turn back. All it took was for me to keep him pointed out and gently encourage him until he decided to walk on. Today he didn't even hesitate, just headed out on the trail like no big deal. The only hesitation came at the first log, which is pretty huge. He first tried to back up. I let him but didn't let him turn around so after a minute he decided to go back up to the log. Then he had to paw it, sniff it, try to bite it, then finally step over it. I just sat there and gave him all the time he needed. After that he went over every log and ditch like a pro. At one point we had to bushwack and he got a branch caught in his tail. He never even reacted to the branch. I was able to walk him over some other debris, got the branch caught up on another log and pulled it loose from his tail...no muss no fuss. We've about decided he's part bloodhound. On the trail he has to smell every poop pile, every little spot where the armadillos or coons have rooted around. He is so curious. I let him smell, taste, paw...whatever until his curiosity is satisfied. What I'm noticing is he is stopping less often and for shorter time periods. Eventually I think he'll stop completely. In the mean time I kind of like that he's so curious. We spent a lot of trail time trying to gait today. I was just asking him for a faster walk. The second he would increase his walk I'd get real still in the saddle. Usually he'd go on up to a slow trot but sometimes he'd hold that fast walk for awhile. If he trotted I'd let him trot awhile before gently slowing him back to a walk and starting the whole process over again. Not sure if this is the way to teach gait in a trotty horse...my experience has been with pacy horses...but I figure it can't hurt, and, if he ends up only trotting that's ok with me. His trot is so smooth I can easily sit it or post, whatever I want. Today he also, I think, seemed to offer a canter step. It kind of happened real fast and was done before I realized what he was up to. I think we're close to cantering though. I can't brag on him enough. He is so mellow and willing. He loves the trails. I think he's not so crazy about the arena which makes me think he may not be too wild about doing dressage. I plan to go real slow with that and maybe I can teach him without burning him out.

Feb 10: Great ride today. I rode Lex with the Yeehaw sistas. There were 12 riders, mostly gaited horses and Lex was a perfect gent. We ended up second from the front and the lady riding behind me was on a horse that insisted on goosing Lex in the butt for most of the ride. Lex was so patient and the even cooler thing was he never acted like he needed to catch up with the lead horse which was a very fast walker and kept getting pretty far ahead. I was very pleased with my guy today..I think he's finally grown up. I plan to ride him with the group a lot more now that I know he can handle it. Yea!
« Last Edit: February 10, 2015, 06:58:53 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2015, 03:54:27 pm »

I continue to have trouble getting Lex into a right canter, sigh. Today I rode him on the trails for about 2 hours and he was real good and we gaited a little and cantered a little but nothing too strenuous. When we got back to the arena I thought why not do some canter work since he was nicely warmed up. So I did some 180's and then asked for a left canter and he picked it up right away and cantered nicely. Then I tried the right canter. He trotted, he refused to bend, he gaited and the whole time he was strung out and just struggling. He finally picked up the right canter after I exaggerated my body position, suffered through trotting a couple of circuits around the arena and then kicked, whooped and smacked him into it. Uck! It kind of pissed me off so I immediately put him into a couple of quick turns on the haunches followed by a fast back up, maybe 30 feet, then immediately asked for fast forward. He went into a soft beautiful run walk...the best he did all day...and from that he picked up his right canter real easy and soft and stayed collected through a couple of circles. Maybe I need to get more demanding with him? I sure wish I could get some coaching on this. I will figure it out but man oh man I wish I could cut through all the trial and error and just do it. I imagine he wishes the same thing!
I may take Amigo on the Tuesday trail ride next week. Thinking about it anyway. Will have to see how he does this weekend. Barbara has agreed to ride Dodah for me so Amigo will have his trail buddy just in case he needs someone for confidence.

Feb 12: I should probably discuss a little about Lex and his trouble with right canter. I believe this horse was started under saddle when he was maybe 18 months, certainly by the time he was 2. He was an unwanted surprise foal whose sire was a speed racker and I imagine his owner thought to turn him into a racker and sell him quick. By the time I acquired him at the age of 4 ish he was throughly discusted with humans, he was spoiled, pushy, and aggressive. A friend of mine owned him at that time and I had seen him walk over her, try to bite her and kick her on several occasions. She had to find a home for him and wanted me to take him. I did not want another horse but I took him because I figured he was well on his way to Mexico if someone didn't straighten him out. I say all this because I believe his early history has something to do with his difficulty collecting and using his back. He is built downhill slightly but the bigger problem is his back is a bit swayed, maybe from being ridden as such a young horse and being forced to rack when he was so immature....or maybe it's just his conformation. Whatever. But the result is he's a leg mover and has always had trouble properly using his back despite all my efforts. On the occasion that I am able to get him round he gaits beautifully and can take both canter leads easily. Infact he was getting so good I was starting to work on simple changes and even got a flying change once. A few weeks ago on the trails we were trying to work on speed and Lex discovered trotting. I had tried to trot him before but could only get a few steps. This day he trotted and/ or cantered for a couple of miles and we had a blast. Now he doesn't want to pick up his right lead in the arena! He would rather trot I think. Although it's possible he is experiencing some pain somewhere..... And I have considered this and have tried him in several saddles including treeless....with no apparent change in his way of going. I really think he's just going through a period of confusion trying to work out the whole trot/gait thing and I also think he can trot more easily than he can gait so that's what he wants to do. He remains very flexible and supple at the walk and when I get him motivated enough to raise his back and collect, he gaits beautifully andcan pick up both leads. There is also the issue of the effect my body position has on his ability to get his leads. My pelvis is tilted such that I have trouble getting my right leg and hip forward. I have to exaggerate my position to correct forthis and that results in tension which is not good. So we're both going through a learning curve I think and once we get things worked out we should be ok. That's my theory anyway, subject to change later of course.

Feb 13: I rode Lex again today. Last night I spent some time reviewing some of Buck Brannaman's exercises and realized I haven't practiced the back up, go forward exercise that is supposed to be so good at getting the horse to come under and work off it's rear end in a very long time. Considering how well Lex gaited the other day after I got put out with him and made him back up a lot right before I asked for gait, I thought maybe this is the missing piece. So today while I waited for my friend to show up to go ride the trails, I had Lex in the arena and we backed a few steps then forward a few steps then back. The difference this time vs what I used to do was this time I expected him to put a lot more effort into it....back up quickly, arched neck with poll up, head vertical, feet picking up, not dragging. Boy that got his back up! Then immediately go forward without changing his frame. Wow. I had tried this some time ago and he couldn't do it. Today he did and I could really feel him raise his back and when I asked for gait he was so round and his gait was regular and even and collected. Really nice. I only did this a few times and also did a few turn on haunches and then we went out on the trails. We mostly walked but I noticed the two times we did gait I had no trouble getting him in a nice collected gait and I was even able to rate the speed of his gait easily to match my friend's horse's trot. Back at the arena after our ride I again did the back up exercise and when I asked for gait I again got a beautiful collected and soft gait. From this gait I asked for and got a right canter and by golly it was collected and soft and a joy to ride. It did take him two tries to get it though as he did at first try to trot but unlike the other day, this time it was easy to correct him and that canter was something else! And this time he was bending nicely so that I could canter a small circle easily. Do I dare believe I 've got this figured out? Or is it a case that the stars were aligned just right and tomorrow we'll be back to strung out and stiff? I guess I 'll just have to wait till tomorrow to find out.

Feb 14: Well different day, same results! Lex was real good today. He was collecting pretty well even before I did the back up exercise and his gait was nice. After I backed him a few times I was able to ask for canter. The first time I asked he tried to trot so I put him back in gait and tried again. This time he took the lead and cantered. So then I worked on collecting his canter and he did pretty well although keeping him going is very hard. I'm starting to think spurs. But I think I remember him being a slug when we first started gaiting so I'll probably just keep working at his motivation....dressage whip works pretty well. One cool thing today, he offered to do shoulder fore in gait today! I sort of suggested that he do it and he did and was able to keep the speed and rhythm of the gait. It felt like it was easy for him where in the past he could do it but had to work pretty hard. So yea.
Amigo on the trails today finally started acting like a four yr old! He's been so perfect I was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to test the boundries. He did today. The first thing he did was refuse to cross a large gully. He's been across this gully several times but today he decided it was too deep or something....water in the bottom maybe. He walked about half way down one side and then stopped. I tried to gently suggest he keep going but he ignored my cues. He tried to back up a step, I stopped that, he tried to turn around and I blocked that. So he stood there facing downhill I guess waiting for me to give up. Didn't happen. I told him I had all day so we sat there for maybe five minutes. He finally put his head down and looked at the water and pawed the ground so I asked again politely for him to go forward and he did....one step at a time....but he did it and didn't even try to jump over the water. It's funny, this is exactly the way he behaved when he started refusing to go over the large logs and now he walks right over them. So I expect when he figures out I will not let him get out of crossing the gullys he'll eventually give up and just go through them. The other thing he did wrong today was when he trotted. He wants to saunter along and smell the ground a lot so I spend a lot of time asking him to walk faster. Sometimes he speeds up too much and trots. I usually let him trot until he wants to walk. Today he started to just trot off without my asking him to speed up. Since he's by nature a slow horse, I don't want to shut him down so I let him trot a few feet and then slow him to a walk. Well he started ignoring my slow down cue. Not acceptable at all. So when he pushed through my cue I hauled on him pretty hard and didn't release until he stopped his feet and gave to me. Then I made him back up several feet and then go forward. We did this several times and he got a lot better at listening to my cues and when he was good I didn't make him back. If that's as much teenage rebellion as he does it'll be a breeze! The good things he did today....I was able to get a lot of real good leg yields as we walked down the trails. I could yield him to the left, go a few steps and yield to the right. He didn't seem to mind at all and responded nicely to my cue. Not sure when he figured that out but glad he did! Then I started using my legs to guide him around curves on the trail and only directing him with the reins if he missed the turn. He's actually doing pretty well with this and my rein cues are a neck rein which he understands pretty well now.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2015, 05:39:14 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2015, 08:55:15 am »

I haven't said much lately about Dodah so I thought I'd do so today. Dodah is my best horse, my favorite all time ever horse and the one I let everyone ride because I know he will take care of his rider. He is by nature an over achiever which means he sometimes tries too hard, sometimes anticipates, is always super sensitive. Inexperienced riders can ride him on the trails if they leave the reins alone and just let him do his job but put an inexperienced rider on him and try to teach them anything about dressage and both rider and horse get frustrated, Dodah because he can't figure out what the rider wants him to do and the rider because Dodah is so busy doing lots of different things in the hope that something will please his rider! Also Dodah hates all bits. I use one on him on the trail with inexperienced riders because in an emergency they will be able to stop him and he's ok with that if they ride on a loose rein. I often ride him in a bosal but he is a bit less sensitive in that equipment. If he bolts, I can stop him easily enough but I don't trust anyone else to be able to. So....my niece is wanting dressage lessons. Actually what she wants to do eventually is trail obstacles or competative trail. She is a good rider but in all her years of riding she has never learned to use her seat and legs. Instead she expects to guide the horse strictly through the reins. Doesn't work so well on Dodah! Her first lesson didn't go too well as she kept trying to pull him into the lateral moves with the reins. Big mistake! We managed to get one decent leg yield and a couple of turns on the forehand before Dodah gave up in total confusion. Poor guy. So yesterday I hopped on him bareback with the bosal just to see how well he responds to it now since I haven't 'aused that equipment on him in quite awhile. It took him several minutes to get back in the groove so to speak after having so many different riders but once he remembered how to respond to the cues he was darn perfect and actually seemed much more sensitive and responsive to that bosal. I've decided to give my niece her lessons on Dodah with that bosal and her first lesson will be to see if she can just pick up the reins and hold them in her hand without him reacting at all. That means she has to pick up those reins and he isn't to move his head or body even an inch. It's much harder than it sounds, that horse is so sensitive, it took me a few minutes to be able to do this myself when I tried it. The object of this exercise is to teach her to be light on those reins and also teach her how to quiet her own body, and relax, in order to keep Dodah relaxed. She will never get through those trail obstacles with him unless she can stay relaxed and keep him so too. It's the only way to keep him from anticipating. Then once she can do that, I'll ask her to do turn on the forehand and see how little it takes and how quiet she can keep him. Should be an interesting lesson. If she will stick with this she will be so much better of a rider and she will gain the skills she needs to retrain her very sensitive and reactive morgan cross that is right now a very confused and unhappy horse.

Feb 21 Had a wonderful little lesson with my niece today. She started off bareback on Dodah with the bosal. She didn't  have much trouble lifting the reins and keeping him quiet so I told her to see how little it takes to get him to do turn on the forehand. She actually did that quite well the first couple of times but then she started trying too hard and Dodah started anticipating . Then her turn on the haunches went all to pot. She was getting discouraged so I decided to see what would happen if I put her on Lex. He's  every bit as soft as Dodah but he doesn't  anticipate so much. This was Jessie's first time to ride with a snaffle bit so I had to give her some instruction on how to use that equipment and she quickly picked up the technique. After that things got much much better. Lex apparently is a super lesson horse!!!!! Go figure! He was patient with her and so gentle and obedient. Wow. She was able to perform turn on the forehand with the lightest touch..perfectly. So we went to turn on the haunches and she got that too. She was having the best time! Then I showed her 180's and backing up and she was pretty good with those although the back up was a little crooked. That all took almost 2 hours. Jessie was happy and ready to quit so I hopped on Lex just to see how well he could collect. Wow I got the best best gait with almost no effort. Then we went right into canter on the right lead....effortless. Switched reins and got gait and canter on the left lead. It was just so much fun. Lex just may give Dodah a run for favorite horse status one of these days. And today he only tried to trot once, easily corrected.
I also rode Amigo. Actually I was riding him while Jessie was riding the other horses. He was really really good today. I started by doing some bending exercises for a few minutes just to warm him  up. Then I started asking for leg yield and got good ones in both directions! Somehow in the past 2 weeks he taught himself how to leg yield. All I do is shift my weight slightly and bump him with my inside leg and he just steps over so nicely. Today he wanted to lead with his shoulder so I stopped that shoulder with the rein and it worked. Always before he resented it when I tried to correct him like that, today he just calmly straightened himself. Then I asked him to trot. My idea was to start trotting little circles, teaching him to bend while trotting. He had other ideas and gaited. That's the first time he's  gaited like that in a long time and it was cool. So we gaited some and then he started trotting so we trotted circles. This is the most I've done of that so far and he did quite well. What I noticed though was as we were trotting those circles he wanted to collect a lot. As he got more collected his head went way down and he started gaiting again. Hummmm. Needs more experimenting but I sure like what he's  giving me. Then I wanted to show Jessie how to back up so I illustrated on Amigo and he did it nice and straight. He was so good I decided to see if he could back a circle. Well he didn't do a whole circle but he did back in an arc. Then I decided to see if he could sidepass. Guess what, he did it....first time ever!!!! What a champ. Today we did more lateral work than I've  ever asked him to do at one time. He did every thing I asked and even seemed to enjoy himself which is great because when I started doing lateral work with him he resented it. I'm  thinking now that Amigo is going to learn to trot and gait pretty much at the same time and it will be a matter of the 2 of us working out the cues so he knows when I want trot vs when I want gait. Soooooo  much fun.

Feb22:   I'm  trying to decide where to go from here with Amigo. Of course we need to hone his skills in what he already knows, get the lateral work softer and straighter, get him softer and bending at the trot and get him trotting longer and gaiting longer and more consistently and get him more confident and trusting out on the trail.....well now that I wrote it all down, that looks like quite a lot to work on! I guess at this point I can also add I need to work on my trotting skills. Since it's  been years since I've  ridden a trotting horse, my seat isn't the best. I can sit his trot but not well. Yesterday when I was riding his trot I found I could post really easily. Always before posting felt like I had to hork myself out of the saddle by leaning forward and pushing. This may have been the saddle I was using back then....english....we're talking over 20 yrs ago so who knows.... Anyway yesterday all of a sudden I could post by just lifting out of the saddle. It was almost like standing only easier and my butt didn't  lift very much, just a little off the saddle. It was effortless, no leaning forward, no horking, just the most natural feeling. Of course Amigo has the best, smoothest trot in the world so that helped and my saddle is very balanced on him. It's just a cheap little circle y or abetta......circle y  I think....but it fits him well and is balanced. It does hurt my butt after a couple of hours so I'll  need a better saddle once I start putting a lot of miles on him. So anyway about what new stuff to teach him. I guess maybe shoulder fore would be next and spiral in and out. I hate that exercise, also serpentines, but they are very useful so I guess I should do them more...ugh. Then once all that is real good and he can stay stay soft while doing those exercises, then I can start to add haunches in and half pass. Ok that's a good year's worth of work I think, maybe longer. One thing I noticed yesterday, when I started all the lateral work and bending him at the trot, he started getting behind the bit again. This may be the thing he does when he's  unsure or trying real hard? He used to do it when Vickie first started trotting him when she had him for that month but he stopped when he got more familiar with the work. Maybe he just has to go through a learning curve. It doesn't  feel like he's  trying to avoid the bit exactly it feels more like he's  trying to figure out how to carry himself. Anyway I didn't  correct him by trying to pull his head up. Instead I lightly lifted the reins and asked him to go forward and when he got his head vertical  I gave him a release. Then when we were trotting circles, I'd ask for a bend and as soon as he did and was soft I'd release. I didn't  do a whole lot of this just because he was being so good and trying so hard. He' the kind of horse that needs constantly to be told he's doing the right thing...constant pets and release. If I drill him he gets discouraged because he doesn't feel like he's  being successful and getting his reward....If that makes sense. He needs to know there will be an end to the work. Yesterday was the first time he's  seemed happy to work in the arena. It may have been because Lex was in there too and Amigo got to stand around a lot watching Lex work. I know when I was riding Lex at the end of the lesson, Jessie was holding Amigo in the center of the arena while I rode the perimeter. She said Amigo never took his eyes off of me and Lex and was especially attentive when we were cantering. Maybe he can watch and learn! The last time he was in that arena with Lex, I was on Lex and Vickie was on Amigo. I started cantering Lex and Vickie told me later that Amigo watched us and then he just started cantering too. I was so involved with Lex that I didn't  see Amigo canter until he was almost done. I stopped Lex so I could look back and watch Amigo. Amigo saw us stop so he stopped too. Monkey see monkey do. Anyway I'd like to start working canter with Amigo but somehow I don't  feel like we're  ready yet....probably it's  more I'm not ready yet. Sigh.

Feb 23:  I don't remember where I read it but on some forum there is a link to an interesting article about equine body language, some things I had not heard before. The article discussed "calming gestures". This could be when your horse looks away as you reach for his head, yawning, stepping away, etc. These gestures can have several meanings depending on the circumstances of course but what got my attention was the looking away when I reach for his head. All of my other horses actually seek contact with me, Lex being the most extreme in that he loves giving neck huggs. Amigo, not so much. He has always been "aloof". He almost never looks at me straight on but will turn his head slightly to the side. It's weird too because the horse will literally follow me all over the arena, over obstacles and through patterns and seems to be very joined up with me. I just figured the looking away was his way of saying he doesn't like his head touched. This article put another slant on it. The premise is the looking away gesture is actually a calming gesture.....Amigo's interpretation of me reaching for his head is that I'm being aggressive in some way....that I'm coming on too strong. He looks away in order to get me to calm down. He wants me to be less direct! It makes sense I just never thought of it that way....he's not trying to avoid me so much as he's politely trying to tell me to not try so hard! Relax! And here I thought I was being so good about communicating with him. So anyway I tried an experiment. Yesterday I went into his stall to pet him after he was done eating. I reached for his face and he looked away. So I put my hand on his nose and gently turned his head back to me. He tried to drop his head to get away from my hand. I went with him and again tried to direct his head toward me. He started getting angry and turned his back to me. I took the not so subtle hint and left him alone. Today I went into his stall to pet him after he was through eating. I didn't reach for his head, instead I reached for his shoulder. He started to turn away so I removed my hand and just stood next to him. I should also say he always approaches me when I go into his stall so this has nothing to do with whether I can catch him or not or whether he resents my presence in his stall. As I stood there not touching him he brought his head back so I again reached for his shoulder. This time he didn't turn away. I petted him softly for a minute. He finally turned his head toward me so I kissed him on the cheek and left his stall. When he turned his head toward me this time he was licking and chewing whereas before this when he turned away he would start yawning. Interesting. I plan to continue along these lines to see if he can eventually get to allowing me to look at him straight on and to let me hold his head. He has gotten so much better about paying attention to the human since I got him, I'd now like for him to actually look forward to human contact. Amigo is such a quiet horse and so polite and understated. He's teaching me a lot. By contrast, Lex is a screamer! And Dodah was just so defeated when I first got him, he had given up on trying to communicate with the human and just accepted whatever torture was handed to him. Now Lex no longer screams and he loves people and loves pets and huggs. Dodah has learned to express himself and like Amigo he's pretty quiet and polite about it but unlike Amigo, if I miss the message, Dodah will just drop it. Amigo gets angry. Different horses different personalities. I am curious to see if I can learn all their communication requirements and then to see what benefit it will have toward their training. Another layer of the onion.

It's been 3 days and maybe Amigo is getting better with me touching his face. Every morning I go into his stall after he finishes eating and try to pet his face without him turning away. He's pretty much OK on the left side. He doesn't particularly like it but he tolerates. On the right side he is worse. When I first started handling him over a year ago when he still lived at Vivian's you couldn't catch him, halter him, or flex him on the right side. It took me almost 2 hours to get him to flex his head around and actually look at me with his right eye the first time. He would bring his head a little bit around but keep his eye looking away with that wild white around the rim look. When he finally softened and looked at me I finally felt I was on the way to being able to communicate with him. So he's much better than that now but I want him to be totally OK with me handling his head and with having him look at me with both eyes. 3 days ago when I tried to reach for his head he would turn away. If I tried to hold his nose to bring his head back toward me he'd drop his head to get away from my hand. So for 3 days I've been standing at his right shoulder and petting his shoulder and neck and not even trying to touch his face. After petting him for a few seconds I'll step back and drop my hand. When he steps toward me I will pet him again lightly, then drop my hand again. When he brings his head around and looks at me I pet him briefly on the jaw and then leave the stall. Today I did all that and at the end he brought his head around to look at me then sniffed my hair and nuzzled me on the side of my face. He was very gently and polite. I let him do that, then I pet his jaw and left. It feels like I'm  making progress but I'm  thinking  it would be good to start doing the mannering in exercise a la Dr.Deb again. I had done this with him once before and felt like it helped some but then I got busy with other things and sort of let it go. May be time to revisit. What I want to achieve is for him to enjoy and look forward to contact with me handling him on both sides but he also has to remain respectful of my space and not become pushy.

Feb 28: This evening I put a halter on Amigo and took him into the arena to practice the Dr. Deb exercise. I had a 15 ft lead rope and with a little practice I was able to stand a good 8 ft away from him and easily kept his attention on me for as long as 20 seconds. He was looking at me with both eyes too. The only thing he did was start yawning shortly after we started the exercise. Not sure if the yawning is an indication that I'm  boring him to death or if it means he's  letting go of some tension. Anyway he was pretty good and at the end I was able to pet him all over his head and he only turned away once. So progress.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2015, 01:53:27 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #39 on: March 02, 2015, 05:46:32 pm »

I gave my niece an interesting lesson on Saturday. So far she has ridden Dodah on the trails, Dodah and Lex in the arena learning lateral work, leg yield, turn on forehand and haunches and backing. This lesson started with a little game. I gave her the choice....be the horse or the human. She chose to be the horse. The object of the game was for the human to get the horse to perform some task. The human can only make gestures while standing in one spot and can only say "yes". The "horse" has to try to figure out what the task is that the human wants her to perform. The horse can't speak, she can only move around trying to perform the task. It's a guessing game and the horse only knows she's made a correct move when the human says "yes".My niece was unable to figure out the task. Not sure if that makes me a bad teacher or makes her a slow learner horse. Ha! It was fun and we had a good laugh. When I asked her what the game meant to her she said it made her feel sorry for all the times she blamed a horse for being stupid and not doing what she wanted it to do. Exactly the point I was trying to get across. Now she has a better understanding and appreciation for the horse's point of view. It's pretty hard to figure out what someone wants you to do when you bosth don't use the same language. Next time I think I'll  have her be the human and I'll  be the horse so she can get a better understanding of how much you sometimes have to break up a task into little tiny pieces for the horse to understand. I plan to be a fairly dense horse....and I hope that's intentional! Then I started teaching her how to do ground work....we used Lex for this but could also use Amigo. She plans to retrain a morgan/andalusian that is very sensitive and reactive but is basically a good horse and just wants to please. I think it's  a matter of him having no idea about what he's  supposed to do. For the past few years he's been ridden by a person with very heavy hands and yanked around pretty much and in spite of the insensitive handling, the horse hasn't gotten resentful. So I'm  trying to teach my niece how to go about re training this horse. Her biggest problem I think is she seems to have trouble firming up. Not sure if that's  because she's  working with my horses and doesn't  want to do anything to hurt or confuse them or if she just isn't  comfortable with firming up. Hummm...maybe I'll  have her work with Maisey....she'll have to firm up or she won't  be able to get anything done.

I also rode Amigo. He was acting a little off....He kept twisting his head to the left when I took up contact on the reins and he wasn't wanting to bend very well to the right and he was more cranky than he's been in a long time. I suspect he may have some dental stuff going on....he's four so he may have a cap or something. I think I won't  ride him this week and give his mouth a chance to settle down. If it doesn't  get better by itself I may have him checked.

The weather is not pleasant but we're  going to try to ride tomorrow....regular Tuesday ride. I think I'll ride Lex again.....he's been real good lately on the trail and he's  so much fun to ride when he's  good. I can't  ride in the arena this week because we're  having the north side walled in to block some of the north wind and there is a lot of equipment and materials in the arena. There will be roll up doors all along the wall so in the summer I can open all the doors and get a nice breeze. This evening I brought the horses in to feed while the workers were still here working on the framework. They were making a lot of noise moving metal beams and using a cutting torch. My horses didn't  even seem to notice. Yea. They seem to be getting used to unusual noises and weird equipment in their barn.

Mar 5: I didn't  ride Lex on the Tuesday ride, I rode Maisey. It had been drizzly and misty for several days and the ground was pretty wet. Maisey has always been very sure footed in mud so I thought it'd be a good day to ride her. She did great. She had to jump most of the logs which was OK with me. One of the logs, a particularly huge one is situated on the trail such that you have to cross the log and then immediately turn left and go between two trees. It can be a real knee knocker. Maisey wanted to jump that thing. I let her and just bid my knee goodby.  But wonder of wonders, she hopped over that log, stopped, turned left and went between the trees at a walk and my knees survived intact! I had told her to do exactly that but she often doesn't do what I tell her....brat....but this time I guess listening to me was in her best interest.

Mar 8:  I went to the Houston stock show and ranch rodeo yesterday. What a fun day. The ranch rodeo is a hoot. The first day all teams competed in several catagories. All teams that successfully completed those went on to the second day. I think we watched 14 teams compete in 3 categories when we were there....saddle bronc, wild cow milking, and ranch vetting. In saddle bronc the riders didn't have to spur out of the chute and they could hang onto the saddle horn too....All they had to do was stay on top of the horse for 8 seconds....any way they could. They did get style points for one hand and/or spurring. Most of them just hung on for dear life. The wild cow milking was so funny. One guy lassoed the cow then the other 3 guys grabbed the cow...One on it's  head, one holding it's  tail and the last guy had to collect milk into a beer bottle then run to the judge. They were timed and they only got their score after the judge dumped the milk out of the bottle...no milk, no score. The ranch vetting was designed to simulate ranch conditions when a cow may need medicating and there's no chutes to work the cattle in. The guys had to rope the cows...head and heels. Then 2 guys and to flip the cow on it's  side and "medicate" it.....The guy on the head had to mark the cow's head with chalk....then they had to remove both ropes and get away before they got their time. The best 10 teams went on to the finals where they had to compete again in these 3 categories plus ranch sorting and ranch branding. 2 things impressed me about the ranch rodeo. First thing...This is a no holds barred competition....those guys meant business! And yet all the contests were designed with the safety of the livestock (but definitely not the humans)  in mind. One cow had some trouble getting up after the milking competition.....or rather she kept laying down after the competition. She was a big cow and had run around a lot before they roped her and then she tried laying down after they roped her and the guys had to keep getting her up so they could milk her. Afterward she just wanted to lay down, maybe to catch her breath. Anyway the whole show came to a halt while we waited on the cow to rest up. Really, a few minutes later she hopped up and ran back to the chutes but nobody bothered her until she was ready to go. The second thing that impressed me was the number of guys that were using snaffle bits on their horses....quite a few, I'd say about half of them. Most of these guys are from Texas, a few from Louisiana and Oklahoma. I grew up in east Texas and I can tell you, the vaquero tradition was not any part of horsemanship in this state back then. We all rode our horses in grazing bits. Snaffle were for English riders and for the most part they were not used correctly. I can remember going into tack shops 60 years ago and they would have bridle displays and every bridle had a grazing bit. The only difference was the style of the headstall. Yesterday I saw a lot of horses working beautifully in snaffles. I didn't notice any in bosals but I could have missed a few. One horse was working in a leather bit with no headstall. Now that was cool. The horse did open it's mouth some and did some chewing but it didn't seem to be uncomfortable so maybe it was just working that leather. The only problem came when one of the pickup guys went to lead this horse by one rein and the bit started slipping out of the horse's mouth. Horsey raised his head and resisted leading so the pick up guy let him go. When his rider finally got to him he had to reposition the bit but it was no big deal. Then we hit the vendors. Now wow, shopping nirvana. I found a tack store that had maybe 500 bits on display....All different. I found the exact mylar bit I was wanting to try out on Dodah and it was even reasonably priced so that was good. Going to try it out on him today if I can catch him between rain showers.

Mar 10: we've had over 4 inches of rain the past 2 days and horses and people are about done. I did try the new bit on Dodah and he seemed to like it but I was unable to ride him because he was high as a kite due to the rain....very unlike Dodah. Then today we did our regular Tuesday ride and it was anything but regular! We managed to find some quicksand when we attempted to cross from one trail to another through a poorly traveled patch of woods. The first 2 horses made it through just fine. The third horse sank down up to his belly but managed to fight his way through to solid ground. The fourth horse tried a different way and wend down to his hocks, freaked out and nearly threw his rider but she managed to stay on and they got to solid ground. I was fifth in line and was riding Maisey. She had been really bad the whole ride and by this time she was not listening to me at all and was scared and mad. I found a narrow space between the trails that hadn't been traveled over by the other horses. I got off of Maisey, used the get down rope which is pretty long to lead her and I led her over the quick sand. This is a  very dangerous thing to do because the horse can jump right on top of you and also you take a chance of falling down in the goo and getting trampled. I knew this but I also knew Maisey would listen to me better if I was leading her in her current state of mind and I had picked a crossing that was narrow enough that I figured I could get across before I sank down too much, then I could ask her to follow me. It worked pretty well. I only sank in ankle deep and was able to keep my balance. Once I got to firm ground I brought Maisey across. She only sank up to her fetlocks but it freaked her out pretty much. But still she managed to not jump on me and I was able to get back on her easily. Dodah and Barb were last. She waited for me and Maisey to get across and then she rode Dodah through. That horse is amazing. He was sinking up to his hocks in places and yet he walked through very slowly and carefully, very methodical. It was one of the coolest things he's  ever done. Barb was so scared she was shaking and he took such good care of her, it was almost like he knew she was too scared to help him so he took over and helped her. Maybe I'm  giving him too much credit but I doubt it. Barb couldn't  get over it either. She thinks he's the best. I'm  happy to know he really will take care of his rider. Then once we got back to the road going back to the trailers I got off Maisey and gave her a refresher course in listening to the human. It's been way too long since I've done anything with her and she has started to take over and that is a very bad thing. So today she got ground school boot camp on that road. By the time we got to the trailers she was saluting and saying yes ma'am. I think she'll get a bunch more ground school and some riding out alone as soon as the weather gets better. I sure can't  let other people ride her right now as long as she is wanting to ignore the human. With Maisey the trick is to make the human more important to her than the other horses. I had it before but with the lack of real work, she's reverted to her previous disrespectful self.

Mar 14:  I love rain, I love rain, I love rain. ..sigh. It has rained every day this week. Still raining this morning and my outside cat died last night. I found her curled up on her bed on the porch this morning. Looks like she just went to sleep. Weird. She was fine last night, came up for hugs and ate her dinner. I'm pretty bummed. She was such a good cat and a survivor....made it through the wild fire a few years ago, and all the other things  that kill yard cats like coons and such. Man this just sucks. So we're down to one cat and one dog, sigh, and 6 horses. Why is it every time we move we go through about 2 years of pet die off. In the year we've been in this house we've lost both of our cats and one horse. What really worries me is this kitty looks like she died from some kind of toxin. We are so careful to not use any pesticides, no rat bait, and we're  real careful with the antifreeze. I just can't  imagine what she could have gotten into. She does go into the garage so hubby is going to see if anything has leaked onto the ground once it gets light outside.
I worked with Maisey yesterday. Just doing ground work. She was actually better than she's  been in the past, a lot more responsive. I lunged her on a 20 ft lead first and she took off in a canter but kept trying to cut in on me. I made her canter faster and walked toward her in the corner where she tried to cut in. It worked, her circles turned into circles and her canter got a lot better. And she did that without coping an attitude! Then I did some direction changes and after walking the length of the arena twice doing the changes she finally got to rolling over and lifting her shoulders  and staying away from me. Then I asked for shoulder fore but the best she could do was sidepass. That was ok. My ground cues for shoulder fore are not great so I can see how she had trouble. If they don't  show up today to put the roll up doors in the arena, I'll  work Maisey under saddle, maybe in a bit. I want her saying yes ma'am with no attitude. With the ground work it seems that I have to get pretty insistent and really make her work in order to get her to have a good attitude. If I'm  too soft with her she just blows me off. So I think I'll  need to be pretty firm with her under saddle too. Will see anyway.
The guys did show up to install the doors! YEA! I now can close the north side to block the wind and rain, or open it to let a breeze flow through. Now all I need to do is fix the drainage on the west side.....remove most of the bull rock, remove the silt that has built up which is preventing good drainage, bring in some road base to build up the outside base of the arena to aid drainage and keep the water from coming into the arena, place a 30 ft tarp along the rails to prevent rain from splashing into the arena and replace the bull rock. Should only take us a week or 2 to get it done..has to all be done by hand. My back hurts just thinking about it.

National pi day...3.1415     I rode Maisey and Amigo today. Jessie rode Lex and Dodah. All 4 horses were good. We had to stay in the arena due to the condition of the forest trails. So we worked on ground work with Lex and Maisey. Jessie is trying to learn how to do several exercises that will help her to train her horse. Lex is being a great school horse! He is  teaching her both ground work and dressage. Today she finally was able to feel how to ask for all the lateral work without letting the horse take over. My horses tend to be over achievers and will often give you more than you ask for. This can be a good thing but when you're  doing precision work it can get in the way. You have to anticipate that they will do this and stop it before the horse even thinks about doing it. Jessie is getting to understand this now. She's  getting real good with Lex...those two seem to really click. I told her if she can get Dodah to perform as well as Lex did today, she willl be ready to do some competitive trail. She had better luck with Dodah today but she isn't  quite ready yet. She still can't  always keep Dodah from taking over. This is really hard. I can't  always keep him from taking over. Staying calm and relaxed and keeping things slow is the only way. Jessie is still trying too hard.
Then Maisey seems to have gotten the memo. Today she was a little princess. Even her lateral work was about as good as it's ever been. I rode her in the bosal. Tomorrow I may try the bit and see how it goes.
Amigo was back to his sweet self so I guess he was going through some dental issues last week. We trotted quite a bit but I had trouble keeping him in trot through tight circles. He can do the perimeter of the arena but anything remotely close to a 10 meter circle shuts him down. I tried it in both directions but no go. I guess his balance just isn't  good enough yet. He started the ride being a little stiff on the left side but that got better with work. The only issue we had was he is getting behind the bit pretty much. He doesn't  push the bit and doesn't  resist turning or stopping (usually) but he puts that nose almost on his chest. Today it felt like he wanted to drop and roll a couple of times too. All I did was keep him moving forward. I never pulled on the bit and only a couple of times had to lift the reins. I need to ask Vickie if there's  anything else I should be doing. He is both trotting and gaiting. Today he wanted to gait mostly and I had to work a little to get him to trot. Either one is OK with me, he is so smooth. I could ride his trot all day. So I'm  still not sure what he'll do on the trail, trot probably if we are trying for any speed.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2015, 06:23:50 am by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2015, 09:24:08 pm »

Another ride on Amigo today. My last ride on him was marked by him getting behind the bit a lot and not wanting to trot. He also was sluggish and kept feeling like he wanted to drop and roll. Today he was better. He didn't  get behind the bit at all, his halts were straight and soft and pretty quick. He was a little stiff through the turns but once he warmed up that got better. I didn't  try to get any trot out of him today. Instead I just asked him to move out and he chose to gait. I found he can stay in gait on 20 m circles going to the left but to the right he just couldn't  quite pull it off and kept dropping to a walk. 10 m circles were out of the question. So it looks like for now gaiting is easier for him especially through bends. This is kind of a new experience for me as all of my horses before this have had trouble gaiting on a circle but were OK going in a straight line. Amigo seems to trot easier on straight lines and gaits on circles. Go figure. So I figure it's a matter of doing lots of those circles until he learns how to balance through them, then I can work on more consistent gait or trot. Actually for now I don't  care what he does, I'm just working on getting him to move out faster than a walk and getting him to understand he needs to keep moving until I tell him to slow down or stop. He is so mellow and low key and such a good natured horse, I want to be careful to not push him into resistance but at the same time I need to kind of get him a little bit out of his comfort zone so he can learn to broaden his experience. He's so good it can be easy to forget he doesn't  know much and the tendency for me is to expect him to progress faster sometimes than he's capable of. I gotta keep telling myself he's still just a baby. Also he and I are both pretty bored by arena work. I gotta get him back on the trails asap....wish the weather would cooperate. Those trails are just too wet right now.

I plan on riding Lex tomorrow in the forest. This will be his first time out there with the trails so wet and the possibility of quicksand. Hopefully we won't get into any of that stuff..I have no idea how Lex would handle it but I wouldn't  be surprised if he freaked out. I'd rather not find out. Barb will be on Dodah. He seems to like his new bit....A lot less mouth gaping but he still pushes the bit when he gets frustrated. I think I'll  use his old bit tomorrow so Barb won't  have to worry about his behavior in a new bit especially considering the quicksand issue.

St Patty day. Good ride in the forest today. I rode Lex. This was the biggest ride he's been on yet...we had 12 people. I put Lex in front at the beginning, not knowing how he would behave and I know he's  usually calmer in front. He had a little trouble going over the first muddy wet ditch and I had to get another horse to go first. Then Lex went right on through but he sure didn't  like the wet clay. He kept trying get to get off the clay by going to the side...very bad idea, that's  where it gets really soft. He listened to me pretty well and when I told him to stay on the trail and just walk through the mud, he did. We managed to stay out of the really soft stuff except for one small area on one trail....same area that we got into the quicksand last week. Lex did step off the trail once, sank up to his fetlocks, got himself back on the trail and didn't  try that again. When we started back to the trailers I put Lex back in the middle of the pack. All of the horses in front of us were gaited and they took off. Lex was actually better than I thought he'd  be! He sped up but kept his brain between his ears, listened to me and I was able to rate him nicely. We did a beautiful slow gait which was plenty fast enough to keep up with the other horses....first gear for Lex. However he was only able to do that for maybe a half mile before he started getting anxious. He started crabbing sideways....rear end to the left....always has been his "get away from mom" maneuver. So all I did was use my legs to straighten him out and asked him to drop his head and he got ok. Trouble was he'd be OK for a little while, then start getting anxious again and I'd have to correct him again. I did that for awhile but when it seemed like things were escalating I had Dodah get in front of him and he settled down and stayed settled the rest of the ride. All told I was very very happy with him today. I think we're  well on our way to getting him OK on bigger trail rides. More wet blankets should really help. I was so pleased with his gaiting today, he was very round, very soft and very smooth. It felt like he could go fast or slow, he never tried to trot (although that would not be a bad thing if he did trot, I kind of like to trot once in awhile) and even better he only asked to canter once and that was a couple of canter steps that were slow and not chargy and he went back to gait as soon as I asked him.

I thought about riding Amigo this afternoon but ended up not doing it. I've been thinking about his inability to trot circles. I think it's  partly a balance thing but perhaps the bigger issue is he's so mellow. He just doesn't  get interested in speeding up in that arena. On the trail he is a lot more forward. So my job will be to teach him he really needs to invest more in going forward. The other big issue is he still isn't as soft and supple as he should be. So I plan to start doing the circle/serpentine exercise with him. This is done on a loose rein. You ask the horse to move his feet first. Then you pick up one rein and set your hand lightly such that he should give his head and turn. If he doesn't  give his head and turn, you just ask him to move his feet more but you don't change anything about that rein. As soon as he gives his head and turns you release him. Immediately pick up the other rein and do the same thing. This should be done for no longer than 20 minutes at a time, less if the horse is giving and soft. My mistake with this is I've been pulling on the rein....touch and release until he turns. I think he's  not learning to get soft and carry himself by doing that. I release too much and at the wrong time.....it's  worth a try anyway. So I'll give him a lesson on thursday.....gonna rain tomorrow and we're taking a little road trip. So Thursday is my next riding day. Will report back on how this works.

Mar 19:  Had a good ride on Amigo this morning. He has definitely taken to being stiff on the left side. I guess I worked so hard to fix the right side stiffness that he decided to move his stiffness to the left side. Brat. So today I started by walking him, picking up one rein and holding it to ask for a turn and give. Going to the right he was like butter but to the left he was hanging on the bit, turning his head but walking straight, not bending through his body at all. A couple of times he even had his head turned to the left but his neck was arched to the right....now that's  not easy! I tried to just hold the rein and ask for more forward but all that did was make him walk crooked faster! Not exactly what I wanted. I tried it this way for a good long time and he finally worked out how to give to me but it wasn't  pretty and he should know better after all this time. So I got impatient with him....yes it's  true....and I decided he needed a little more of a correction. So I asked nicely first for him to bend and turn and when he blew me off I asked for more forward. When that didn't  work I popped him pretty hard in the mouth with the left rein, one quick pop at a time but the first time I did this I had to pop him several times before he gave, and when he did finally give to me I let him straighten out and rest. After about 10 minutes of this he decided to start giving to me when I asked nicely, and got a lot softer. He still wasn't  as soft to the left as he was to the right but it was a lot better. Then I started asking for trot. I had to work really hard at first to get him to trot and then once he was trotting, if I started to post, he'd break down to a walk. What? I always thought posting was easier on their back that sitting the trot but Amigo seemed to want me to sit. So I sat. We tried to trot through the bends but it was difficult. I decided to just get him trotting first. I'd ask for trot and once he started trotting I'd be quiet on him until he slowed down again then I'd whop him back into a trot. Once he was trotting a little more consistently I started posting. Once he could trot with me posting I started bending him. That went much better. By the end of it he was trotting smallish circles in both directions. I still can't  ask for quick direction changes, he needs to go straight for a little bit before I change directions but that is for sure a balance thing and will get better with practice. So yea we made real progress today. Also, and this is really good for me...I learned that I can push him through his cranky "I don't  wanna" attitude and he won't  break in half. About the only thing he did was drop his head way down and think about rolling one time and all I had to do was pick him up and make him move his feet. Then during the beginning of our trot work he shied. Totally no big deal. Really I wasn't  sure he really shied at first. All he did was kind of jump sideways about 2 feet and stop. Very easy to ride through. No spin, no bolt, and afterward he was totally normal. So I'm beginning to get a lot more confident in him not turning into a crazy baby horse. He is going through the terrible 4''s but if this is as bad as it gets he'll be ok.
I also rode Lex today in Dodah''s new mylar bit. It's a curb with the 33 mouthpiece for lots of tongue relief and short shanks with a leather curb strap. He really chewed the bit when I first put it in his mouth but after a few minutes he got quiet. This is not the first time he's  worn a curb bit but it's  been several years and he's never had one with this much tongue relief. He seemed to like it. His gait was real good. I didn't  have to do much at all to get him raising his back. But the real big difference was his canter. Wowsa! He took the left lead like butter and was soon collected and soft. What a joy to ride. The right lead was a bit more difficult because he still wants to trot that direction. I got the dressage whip and carried it on the left side. I didn't  even have to touch him with it and he went right into the right lead. He was pretty soft that way too but he was working harder on the right lead. He has more trouble coming under for some reason on that side, his left leg has always been weaker, so his canter is more labored on that lead. Still it was better, and easier than with his snaffle bit. I think he is collecting a lot easier in the curb...makes sense. Will ride him in it a few more times to see if he gets any better with his leads. I'd like to be able to switch back and forth between the snaffle and curb. I don't  want him to become too dependent on that curb for collection.

Mar 21: Jessie came over for a riding lesson today. It was pouring rain so we of course rode in the arena. That place gets loud when it rains, really loud. Usually the horses are a lot more nervous when it's  loud like that but today they were pretty sensible. I put Amigo in the arena at liberty to start. I thought he'd  take off at least trotting and for sure would roll. Wrong. He stayed right with me. So I asked him to walk a circle around me and he did, he changed direction when I asked and walked a circle the other way too...All at liberty....so cool. So I saddled up and got on. I expected him to still be stiff on the left and to be somewhat resistant like he was a couple of days ago. Wrong again. He was so soft both directions....wow. And all I had to do to get a trot was lightly nudge him into it. I only rode him for maybe 15 minutes because he was being so good. I guess, once again he did his homework and figured out what I wanted him to do while he had the day off yesterday. This is why I don't  ride a young horse every day, gotta give them time to process what you're  trying to teach them. Anyway awesome ride today!!!!

Mar 22: Two steps forward, one step back....so it goes training horses. Today Amigo decided to move his rear end away from the mounting block. Sigh. He has been so good lining get up next to the arena rails for me to get on and I haven't  even tried getting on via the mounting block for a long time. I figured if he could stand next to the rail, he could stand next to the block. Not so apparently.  So I worked with him for awhile but he insisted on moving his butt every time I put my foot in the stirrup. So I got a little whip and when he moved away I'd cue him with the whip to move back...and I tried to keep my foot in the stirrup too. It was a little tricky but I got er  done and he finally figured out to stand still. Once I get in the saddle he's real good to wait for me to tell him to move off. Then I learned two things. First I think maybe I shouldn't  have taught him turn on the haunches just yet. The problem is when I ask him to bend to the right he wants to do a sort of walking turn on the haunches instead of bending and moving through the arc. The problem doesn't  seem so bad bending to the left. The other thing I learned is I need to get him better moving forward freely in trot before I do much more bending, especially small circles. I think part of the problem is I tend to lean to the right during right turns which makes him fall in. I found when I make myself lean farther to the left, put more weight in the left stirrup, and raise the right rein when I ask for a right bend, he gets better. It's almost like I ask for a leg yield to the outside of the bend so that he can bend around my leg and keep his shoulder up so he doesn't  fall in. Poor guy,  here he is trying to learn how to respond to my cues and I'm making it harder for him by my crapy  riding. Still, if I can get him moving out a little better I think I can get the bending issue fixed, so we'll be doing a lot of trotting over the next few weeks I think.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 06:02:37 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2015, 04:21:40 pm »

Well Amigo really does need his lessons broken into little tiny bits! The whole trotting and bending thing just was not working so I decided to work first on getting him trotting more consistently and later I can work on the bend. This approach seems much better and he was a lot happier during our ride today. I did nothing more than ride the perimeter of the arena. We walked and worked on fast walk, slow walk, faster walk, gait. Then finally trot. He's beginning to figure out that when I ask for speed but my seat stays quiet I'm wanting him to gait and when I ask for speed and start posting I want him to trot. Things were much better today and I didn't have much trouble at all getting him to do what I wanted....no whopping needed to trot just a gentle nudge and kiss. I also rode him with a whip for a few minutes, didn't  use it, I just wanted to see if he cared....He didn't.  Also the lesson we had at the mounting block last time did the trick. He stood like a statue today while I took my time, got my foot in the stirrup, took it out, jiggled the saddle, stepped back in the stirrup and got on. He did take a step after I got on so I backed him up a couple of steps and made him stand there for a minute. Then we trotted around the arena both directions and he was able to trot through the corners without slowing to a walk most of the time. Going to the right he did want to fall in but if I kept my weight to the outside and leg  yielded him out he was much better. He even got to trotting right next to the rail a couple of times. If I ride him correctly through the corners then eventually he should be able to handle small circles. I think I just jumped ahead a few steps in the process.
I rode Lex on the Tuesday ride today and he was not on his best behavior. Granted we started the ride at the back of the line right behind a young horse that was really scared and was all over the place. Also the first half of the ride is on a trail that heads directly toward my house and Lex is always more pushy on that trail. I would have done better if I had put him in the front of the line for that part. So anyway he finally lost his brain when all the other horses took off and I had to one rein him and he still couldn't  settle. So we put Dodah in front of him and that worked. Once we got off that trail and were headed back to the trailers, he was a perfect little gentleman. He's  learning to go through mudd real well, the trails were the worst I've ever seen with little rivers of water flowing down the center of almost every trail. Amigo will have trouble when I ride him out there this weekend. A friend of mine who is half way through a 4 year curriculum on equine osteopathy was riding with us today. She came up to me after the ride and very politely told me Lex''s pelvis is tilted. She was afraid I didn't  know and she asked if he has trouble coming under on the left. YES!!!!!!  Well I knew he drops his left hip and I knew he can't  get his right lead very well and that he can't collect going to the right very well....WOW! I sure hope she can help him. At least I finally have someone that seems to have an idea what's wrong and maybe it's  a physical issue and not just my crappy riding or the ten +-  saddles that I've tried on him. Literally I have tried different saddles, I've worked shoulder fore for miles, I've backed him up and down a hundred hills, I've lifted his back/belly, dropped his head/neck......lateral work till he can almost go better sideways than forward....nothing helped. I about gave up and figured I must be too stupid to figure out how to get him round and collected. I also think if we can get the pelvis straight so it's easier for him to collect it may make it easier for him to keep his brain between his ears. If he's comfortable all the time, even when he gets tense, he may not be so inclined to tighten his back, throw his head up, hollow out, and get crazy. It's a theory. I can't  wait for her to come out and work with him and we'll  have more time to discuss all these issues.

Mar 25: Some friends came over today to ride in the arena. One of them is a young lady that needs to get her horse legged up for the first barrel race in 3 weeks and  it's too wet in their pasture for her to ride there. So they came over here. I got Amigo caught up and my plan was to have him tied to the arena and let him watch them canter around. That lasted about 5 minutes. He watched for a minute then went to sleep. So I saddled him and took him into the arena. He stayed so calm I decided to get on. He was good at the mounting block, stood like a rock. Then I let him walk about half way around the arena and he stayed calm so I asked for trot. He was trotting nice and loose, going through the corners real nice and with time he got better at staying in trot and not trying to slow to a walk. I was able to trot him with the other 2 horses, around them, behind them and in the opposite direction from them. He kind of questioned at first, he didn't  seem sure if he should keep going but once I got him to understand to keep going he was good. It seemed like he was getting better and better going through the turns so I set him up to do a large serpentine and he did it!!!! It felt easy for him too. Yea!!!!  So getting him going first and then working on bending seems to be the best thing for him. Also today I asked him for some back ups. He was a little rusty and it took a few minutes before he remembered what he should do but then his back up got nice and soft. I think this horse takes valium, he is soooo mellow. Even when he gets upset he's calm. Wow. The only problem I have with his laid back personality is I have to be very very attentive to detect his signs that something bothers him. When he gets mad or worried it's hard to tell. I've missed the signs before and will again I'm  sure. Good thing he cuts me some slack. But today he was a happy camper and so was I.

Mar 26:  I guess because of all the rain we've had this year, or maybe the mild temps this winter.....who knows....but the dogwoods are spectacular  this year, and about 2 weeks early. We also have so much Carolina jasmine blooming in the forest it looks like a field of yellow on top of the beauty berries. Just gorgeous!  Also the verbena  is starting to bloom. I'm not sure which season I like the best....The forest is always changing and there's interesting stuff to see with each change but nothing can compete with spring for sheer beauty. The honeysuckle will start blooming in a few weeks, then we'll have wonderful perfume on the air as we ride the trails. Hard to get much better than that.

Mar 27: Amigo continues to improve his trot work. Today he had no trouble trotting the perimeter both ways without stopping. He did try a couple of times to slow down but it was easy to tell him to keep going. Then we did big (three loop) serpentines both directions in trot. He did pretty well but it was too much to go through the pattern all the way then turn to come back...just couldn't  wrap his head around that. So instead we'd go through the pattern and at the end instead of circling to go back through we'd just trot the perimeter. That kept him happy. There is one corner where we've had problems with the rain pooling and I have that corner blocked off. Going to the right he tries to fall in there and going to the left he tries to shy in. I finally was able to get him to go both ways correctly. Actually the falling in is more difficult to fix than the shy....His shy is almost nothing and if you ignore it, he gets over it. The falling in is another matter and I find I really have to leg yield him out to keep him from doing it AND I have to anticipate that he's  going to do it so I can start my leg yield early. Then we worked a little on sidepass. He does pretty well going to the left but not so good to the right. So I started trying to sidepass him to the rail on his right and once he got close enough I got off on the rail. I did this with Lex and Massey to teach them to sidepass up to an object, like a gate or the trailer. Works like a charm, at least it did for them, I expect Amigo will be no different. Amigo is making good progress but it feels slow to me. It's hard for me to remember how long it took for Lex to get to the level he's at now in his training....years. Amigo should get there faster because I don't  have so much bad stuff to undo with him. However he has a different personality, not as quick mentally and physically....so we'll  see. I have to keep reminding myself it's more about the journey than the destination.

Mar 28    I did an experiment today....we rode in the forest and I rode Lex. I have been complaining that all the work I've  done with Lex has not fixed his crooked pelvis but actually it has helped, he used to be a lot worse. Used to be it looked like he was lame his left hip would drop so much, now all you can see is he holds his tail to the left and walks slightly crooked to the left in the rear. So today I decided to see what would happen if I made him move in shoulder fore for the whole ride. So we did about 10 miles and most of it was done in slight shoulder fore to the left....or really I guess it was more haunches in to the right...or even half pass to the right as I did try to keep him bent to the right a lot of the time while I moved his haunches also to the right.The object was to make him step further under the midline with his left hind and at the same time contract the longitudinal muscles of his back and side on the right and relax and loosen the same muscles on the left. At the same time I kept him mostly collected, letting him stretch briefly every once in awhile, whenever he seemed to need to. We did this going up and down hills, over logs, through gullys....everywhere. By the time we got back to the arena he felt pretty straight and even once tried to get away from me by moving his rear end out to the right instead of going to the left like he's always done. So when we got back into the arena I immediately put him into a right canter and he took it just as soft and smooth as could be and he kept it going around and around until I told him to stop. Wow that was sooooo cool. I love love love his canter when he does it right. I was able to collect him too. Then when I changed and asked for left lead he did that too....yea!!!!! I can't  wait to tell Jennifer when she comes here next week to work on him. It may be that between the work she will do and me riding him for miles and miles in that shoulder fore, maybe we can straighten him out. I am so jazzed. Lex has so much potential and is so well trained if I can get this fixed we can actually do some gaited dressage....or maybe even regular dressage as he gets better with his trot. And all this was accomplished in his snaffle bit. I decided the curb bit is good to get him lifting his shoulders in the short term but long term he has to learn to do it himself.....self carriage....and you don't  get that by using leverage to get them to lift in front. Ultimately the lift has to come from the rear. And that comes from being straight and engaging the rear end, coming under more and shifting their weight back  so they can lift their back. And to get straightness, you have to get that lateral work going....and with Lex he needs lots and lots of lateral work it seems....so snaffle bit only for his little self at least until he can stay straight.
I was discussing all this at lunch today with Vickie. I told her about the 10 mile half pass and how much better his canter was at the end of that ride and she says she also has a horse that is crooked like Lex. Her horse is crooked to the right. We talked about how the horses throw us off center when they travel that way...Lex throws me to the left and it is very very hard to correct my seat when he does that. I actually have my right stirrup on his saddle set about an inch further forward than the left stirrup to compensate. It makes me wonder, does my crooked seat cause him to travel crooked or does he cause me to ride crooked by his crooked body....I think the later because he has moved crooked from the time I first got him. Jennifer can help answer this question.
I'm beginning to get an idea that the training tree.....that dressage people are so fond of referring to.....should be relaxation first....then straightness....then impulsion.....then the rest including collection. Collection should be just about the last thing you try to get from the horse. It's a theory.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 04:02:31 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #42 on: April 02, 2015, 09:44:40 pm »

Interesting day today. Jenifer came over to work with Lex to try to straighten his pelvis. She starts with the head and works her way back in order to try to determine what the issues are that cause him to be so crooked. She discovered both of his front legs have crepitus in his carpal joints that she was unable to fix....we suspect arthritis but without X rays we can't tell between arthritis and tendonitis.  He doesn't have any joint effusion and is not painful. She also discovered his left patella was slightly out of alignment and his left rear fetlock joint was stiff. After some manipulation she got all that back in place and that seemed to make a big difference with his pelvis. Then she worked on his pelvis and was actually able to get him realigned. It was pretty cool as things started getting lined up and straightened....you could see how much more level his pelvis was at the end of the session. Then she had me saddle him so she could check out his saddle....which all checked out just fine....and ride him so she could see if he could stay straight with weight on his back. At first he was a little crooked but the more I walked him the straighter he got. After a few minutes she said he was totally straight. I could feel the difference as he started using both hips equally....pretty cool. Now I'm not supposed to ride him for a few days then I'll start him back working in the arena. My feeling is to not put him into any situation that will cause him to get tense....like trail riding with a large group or trying to gait....until he has a chance to strengthen and develop the muscles that he hasn't been using correctly. Jenifer will come back in 3 weeks to recheck him to see if he's staying straight. Actually Jen was surprised that she was able to get him straightened out as much as she did considering he's been crooked for years. I didn't  realize it at the time but looking back at some of his behaviors and some of the training challenges I've had with him, I believe he was crooked when I got him 7 years ago. Once I realized he had problems I started trying to fix him by doing biomechanical exercises with him as I rode him. I'm convinced that while those exercises didn't totally fix him, I was at least able to keep the problem from getting worse which is probably why Jenifer was able to accomplish so much with him today. Tomorrow I start flexing exercises for him.....using a treat I'm to get him to stretch his neck as high as he can..I need to stand on my viewing platform to be able to hold the treat high enough. He needs to reach for the treat and then hold his head up there for a few seconds. Then he will touch his chin to his chest....He already knows this one as I taught it to him years ago when I first started to work on his crookedness. Then nose to the ground between his front legs....He also knows this one and will do a bow with his head way behind his legs, forehead almost touching the ground. Then he also needs to flex to put his nose on his hip on both sides and finally he needs to put his nose on the ground in front of his rear leg...Both sides.  These are hard for him, especially on the right side so I'll have to go slow at first and reward him for trying even if he can't get his nose to the target spots.

Apr 4: I started the flexes yesterday and using carrots I was able to get him to pretty much flex the same amount to both sides although flexing to the left seemed easier for him. This morning I decided to do the ventral flexes first then flex to the right first since that is his more difficult side. He was almost able to touch his right side today but nowhere near his hip. And I heard his neck pop when he came around to his right side. Then flexing to the left he really didn't  want to do it and got a little mad at me for insisting. Not sure whether the resistance was due to pain or he just wanted that carrot and didn't  want to have to work for it. Anyway I kept insisting he stand still and bring his head around and he finally did it pretty well and no popping on that side. But I'm a little discouraged as it looked to me like he's back to not using both hips again. It's very subtle and hard to tell until I'm riding him, just standing behind him while he walks it's very hard to see....but it did look to me like he's high on the right again.....sigh. This is what I expected but I was hoping for better. Sigh. Oh well tomorrow I'll ride him and get Lew to film it and then maybe I can tell for sure. It may be that I will have to do a whole lot more of the half pass under saddle.....for miles and miles before the adjustments that Jennifer does will last more than a day. Those muscles are very strong and they've been working against themselves for many years. It's probably too much to ask that one adjustment will fix the problem. What a pita.

Easter.   Kind of cool and overcast today, dreary actually. A good day for TV and chili and napping. Lex is getting pretty good with his flexes, not trying to snatch the carrots now....usually, and he's starting to learn that after I ask for him to flex to his hip then the next thing is to flex to his rear leg. So he gets his carrot when he comes around to his hip then he puts his head down to his rear leg before I ask him. Goof ball. He's so smart. Flexing to the right is better and now he's  stiffer on the left. Do they ever get even? I will try to ride him tomorrow to see if he's any straighter or if he's gone back to crooked, it really is impossible to tell by watching him walk from behind without a rider. Going to get Lew to video the ride so maybe I'll learn something.
Amigo has started with the hair loss on his face and legs. Last year when I got him he had raw sores on his front legs that cleared up when I stopped giving him the minerals that Vivian was giving him. Vivian always thought his skin issues were allergies. Could be, and the mineral connection could have been coincidence. Since he's starting to get hair loss again and isn't getting minerals I doubt they had anything to do with it. I'm thinking fungus....it's that time of year and it's been unusually wet this year. Lex is losing facial hair too and I know his is fungal. So both horses are being treated with fungacide. They hate it. Amigo actually pulled back from the blocker tie until the lead rope came out. He's never done that before. So I put a 20 ft lead rope on his halter, tied him back up and went to spraying his face again. I figured it was a good time to teach him not to lay back. He pulled back again, went maybe 10 feet and stopped. I kept the sprayer up by his face the whole time and when he stopped I took it away. He then stepped back up to the rail by himself and the next time I went to spray his face he started to pull back and then just stood there. Sure would be great if that's all there is to teaching him not to pull back but I think he'll need a few more lessons before I can trust him. I'm going to a clinic next weekend and am trying to decide whether to take Lex or Amigo. Amigo needs the experience and I'm leaning toward taking him. To that end I practiced loading him yesterday. He hasn't been in the trailer for many months. It took a little encouragement with the dressage whip, nothing serious, and he got right in. He also backed out really nicely too. So I loaded him several times then put him up. I probably won't decide which horse to take until that morning, Amigo needs the experience but Lex is so much fun to ride. Well, they both are. Achhh....decisions.

Apr 6: I rode Lex today, first ride since his adjustment. I decided to warm him up slowly at a walk doing some easy lateral stuff....shoulder fore mostly....and once he started to raise his back a little I asked for more collection and put him into haunches in. We did that for a long time without asking for much bend at first but as he warmed up I started asking for a lot of bend and for him to really step under and collect. I believe this has been getting a lot easier for him over the past year or so as he can sometimes gait while doing this....today we just walked but very precisely and collected. I hadn't planned on cantering him today but he seemed so relaxed and so easily collected and he was gaiting so well, that I did ask. He went right into a right lead the first time I asked and kept it up and even collected some in canter. Then we changed and he also picked up his left lead. I can still tell a difference though, the left lead collects easier and he seems more comfortable going that way. Still I'm happy with the quality of his right lead at this time. Lew was unable to video my ride today....long story....but I tried to pay close attention to how Lex was moving his rear legs. In the saddle It's so hard for me to tell when he's not using his left hip because he's been crooked for so long it feels normal to me. So I have to judge his straightness by other means. The fact that he was able to take his right lead so well tells me he's straighter than he was. I also kept looking back at his tail. When he's crooked he holds his tail to the left. Today every time I looked behind me, his tail was straight or slightly off to the right. Of course I couldn't check when we were cantering. So maybe we're making progress. I can say for sure Lex is improved over a couple of years ago which I think is due to me getting more persnickety about the way I ride him and also about the quality of his response. Now that his mind is mostly between his ears, most of the time, I can concentrate on more of the details of his movement.

Apr 8: Lex was crooked this morning. Tail off to the left, definitely crooked....and easy to see from the ground walking behind him.going to ride him this afternoon and see if I can get him straight again. He also had some trouble doing his flexes this morning....couldn't  take his head to his rear foot on either side and wasn't too crazy about doing the bow either.
ok. Lex didn't appear quite as crooked this afternoon. I watched as he walked into the barn and his tail was straight, so maybe I'm being too obsessed about this. I rode him and he warmed up easily and took both leads very well and gaited well and collected well and every time I turned around to check his tail it appeared centered. I think I will probably take him to the play day this weekend for several reasons..... it is supposed to be raining and Lex loads and travels easier than Amigo....He has lots more experience and is less likely to get scared. Also the venue where we'll be riding is covered and it's really loud when it's  raining, so again I think it will be too much for Amigo. Finally, I just rode Amigo and he seems a bit rusty. He hasn't been ridden for maybe a week or so and today he was a little spooky and didn't want to trot at all. In fact he was much more willing to gait than trot. And he was trying to get away with not turning....it was the whole bend the neck but keep going straight thing. I do not know why he's picked up that bad habit but he has so I had to get a little tough with him to get him to understand that is not acceptable. I still think he's going through the terrible 4's. So today was spent mostly telling him to not do bad stuff and we didn't get to do as much new stuff as I had planned. But I did do a lot of serpentines today at a walk but we repeated the pattern until he could do it smoothly. Then I asked for trot and got gait. I pretty much stayed on the rail for that. It was so hard to get him going I figured lots of turns would shut him down. I just have to make myself ride him more and I have to get him back out on the trail...
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 03:45:20 pm by zipeddodah »
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2015, 12:44:59 pm »

Very happy with Amigo today. I made some changes to saddle and bit and we had a great ride. Not sure whether the changes are responsible or not but here's what I did....  Amigo has been wanting to lean on the bit and resist turning..he'll turn his head but keep going straight...ugh...and he just started doing this a few weeks ago. He's also been leaning heavily on the bit and dropping a shoulder instead of bending in the corners. He's been in a 2 piece full cheek snaffle since he was at Vickie's. Today I put him in a 3 piece D ring snaffle. He was so soft in that bit. He never tried to push the bit and the couple of times he tried to drop his shoulder and not bend, it was very easy to correct by lifting a rein or using a leg. He was like butter in that bit....yea!!!!  The other problem I've had is with trotting. I could get him trotting but then when I started to post he'd stop. Yesterday I had a very hard time even getting him to trot and when he did it kind of felt like he was off somehow. Not quite lame but off on a front leg. I couldn't  even say which front leg. So I started thinking maybe his saddle was pinching his shoulders. So today I tried a few different saddles on him and found a couple of English ones that fit but his western saddle actually fits pretty well too. So instead of changing saddles I changed pads and today used the thick one with memory foam that I bought for Dodah. So then today he was wanting to trot from the get go. So much that I decided to get off and let him get his Yeehaw out. I removed his bridle and asked him to move out in the arena. He ended up trotting circles around me at liberty! He's done liberty circles before but in a walk and if I ask him to trot he'd take off away from me. Today he stayed right with me....so cool. So then I bridled him back up and hopped on and we trotted 20 meter circles and it was real easy, no trying to stop when I posted, very little falling in and when he did it was easy to correct. He was really a joy to ride today. Makes me think I'm making progress with his training after all. And his lateral work is getting so much better....He seems to be getting more and more responsive to my leg.  He still doesn't halt real well off my seat though but I think that will come with time and consistent practice.

Apr 10  I also rode Lex yesterday. Here's the deal....I'm beginning to get confused....well, more confused,..... Lex has been holding his tail to the left off and on through the day and yesterday when I saddled him he was holding it to the left.....I was using this as an indicator that he is crooked. Well, yesterday was pretty much a left tail day and yet when I rode him he warmed up well, doing haunches in well at the walk right from the beginning. I usually just let him walk the perimeter both directions before I start any lateral work but yesterday I started right off with haunches in. Then a few leg yields and some backing....lots of backing....more haunches in, some shoulder fore, more backing and then I asked for gait. He is getting much better at backing round and staying round when I ask for gait out of a back up. Then I asked for canter, right lead, and got it first time. We did 20 meter circles in canter and he got his leads every time and was a lot better about staying in canter and not dropping down to a walk. I was even able to do some simple changes and also was able to collect him while cantering. So now I'm starting to think the crooked pelvis may not have all that much to do with his right lead....or maybe not as much as my ability to ride him straight has. Riding him in haunches in gets me in the best position to ask for a right lead, it forces me to sit straight and forces Lex to use his weak left rear leg so both of us benefit. It's a theory. But it does seem to be more consistently effective than anything else I've done. I also got the report from Jen on all the things she found that are wrong with Lex. Besides the crooked pelvis, his spine has a slight left curve. Now if that's what's causing all the other misalignments  I'm not so sure we can fix that. Time will tell.

Apr 12  I took Lex to an obstacle clinic put on by a parelli trainer yesterday. I'm not a fan of most of the big name splashy clinicians and certainly not of parelli but I went to meet some new people and maybe learn some new stuff. I did meet some nice people and I liked the trainer, he did seem to know quite a lot and was able to help me figure out the best exercises to do with Lex to strengthen his left rear leg which meant doing haunches in with less angle and getting more bend in shoulder fore. I also learned that while Lex will side up to anything....gates, doors, trailers, walls, tarps....anything....He will totally not back up to a small black barrel. He also seems to be fairly terrified of tall men walking up to him while holding a rope. Silly horse. What I do not get is why in the world someone would want to run through deep sand the entire length of an arena leading their horse at a trot!!!! Why do that when it's so much easier to ride??? I had forgotten that parelli fans are so into ground work....The reputation that they are all afraid to ride sure held up at this clinic....half of the people there were afraid to ride their horses and another lady was afraid to go faster than a walk while riding. So anyway Lex and I didn't shine doing the obstacles in hand. But we did real well once I was in the saddle....except for the backing up to the barrel thing.....perhaps this is something I need to work on. I was real proud of Lex when it came to dragging a ball on a rope. He hardly looked at the ball....but was terrified when the trainer walked up to us to hand me the rope! Once everybody got OK with dragging the ball then we were told to hold the very end of the rope and drag the ball in a circle through 4 sets of cones....very difficult to do with the ball so far behind the horse. I got it done by making Lex side pass past the cones, then getting the rope straight enough to drag the ball through the cones....kind of made a square instead of a circle....Lex had to do a lot of side passing and even over the cones carefully in order to not knock them over before he then could drag the ball through. I thought it was a pretty neat display of precision lateral work until I spoke to some ladies after the clinic and they remarked how scared Lex was because he kept going sideways while dragging that ball but it was good that I kept him from running off!!! Huh? Was I at the same clinic they were at? Ha ha. I did have to tell them I made him do it that way.....got a bunch of blank stares. Am I the only person that likes to do lateral work? I just love doing precision stuff but it seems around here most of the obstacle work involves seeing how much it takes to scare the horse, or how fast you can get through a course. Sigh. Right now I have Dodah who is not afraid of anything but sometimes doesn't do precision work well because he anticipates, and Lex who is great with precision but is unreliable in the bravery department. Maybe Amigo will be good with both once he gets fully trained....hope hope.

Apr 13     I decided that Lex not being willing to back up to that barrel indicates a hole in his training that needs fixing so this morning I started the process. My arena has 4 ft sides so in one corner I put up a tarp by hanging it from the top rail and letting it hang down so the wind can catch it and make it flap. There is a small gate near this corner and I also hung another tarp from that gate. Now when I open the gate I can form a kind of three sided enclosure for Lex to back into. Ultimately there will be a tarp on the ground and a barrel against the rail at the back. Today I left the gate closed so that all Lex had to do was back up to a flat tarp covered wall. I was doing this in hand. It took a good 30 minutes just to get him to back to within a few feet of the tarp. He really has issues with stuff behind him! Now that I think about it, when I first got him I had to do a lot of work with him to get him OK with people walking up behind him, especially when he was facing into the trailer. Makes me wonder why.....  Anyway, today I finally got him close but not touching the wall with his butt by asking him to back one step and then spending a long time petting him then ask for another step and rest with hugs. When he's insecure he wants to put his head under my arm for hugs so we stood there for quite awhile and he got his hugs. Once he finally got pretty close to the wall the wind kicked up and blew the tarp up against his butt and he didn't react to that at all. Strange. So that was enough for the first lesson and I put him up. Then I decided to see how Amigo would handle this obstacle. He was a little snorty walking up to the tarps but once he touched them and sniffed them he was ok. Then I tried backing him up and he just went right back to the tarps, put his butt against them and stood there, took maybe a minute. Totally different personalities between those 2 horses for sure. By the time I'm finished teaching this I want both horses to back into a tight enclosed space, over a blue tarp, and bump up against a barrel with both rear legs and stand quietly until I tell them to move. I will do this both in hand and under saddle.
Repeated Let's backing lesson again this afternoon....In hand....and he backed right up to the canvas wall....straight, the first time, with no hesitation at all! That is one smart horse. I did tell him to stop just before he bumped into the canvas and let him stand and get hugs. Then I asked for one more step back and he did it and didn't  try to move his rear end out to either side and just stood there and gave me hugs. So tomorrow I'll repeat this to be sure he's totally OK with it. Then I'll open the gate to create a 3 sided enclosure and repeat the process. Once he can do it well with the 3 sides in place I'll add the barrel. If he progresses in a linear way....not likely....we'll be doing the exercise under saddle by next week. Yea!

Apr 14   No Tuesday ride today...huge big storm came in about 11am. We would have been half way through our ride and soaked. So glad we didn't go out in that. What we did do was ride in the arena. A friend came over and we worked on some obstacles. I rode Lex into the back up obstacle and he did it very well, even put his butt all the way against the wall, so yea. I conducted a little experiment with him. I first warmed him up real well doing shoulder fore and haunches in the way we had discussed doing them at the clinic....less angle and more bend so as to get him to step further up under himself and strengthen his left rear. Then I asked for canter....I got trot but he felt balanced just didn't take the canter right off. Then I did haunches in for maybe 2 trips around the arena, with lots and lots of bend....almost a side pass but stepping into the bend. Then I asked for canter and he stepped right into it real soft and fairly collected. So now I wonder if this is more an issue of him being weaker on his right side ( which would prevent him from bending as well on that side) rather than just being weak on the left rear leg. Or maybe it's both...and if that's the case, which came first the weak leg or the stiff side? And does it matter? Lots of questions for Jennifer next time I see her. Anyway today he cantered great and even took his leads on the long side rather than in a corner so that was fun. When I look back at our progress I can see how far he's come in the year I've been riding him in this arena and seriously working on his canter. Maybe in another year I'll be able to do flying changes. Something to work for surely.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2015, 08:38:44 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
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zipeddodah

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Re: Training adventures
« Reply #44 on: April 21, 2015, 06:21:17 pm »

Rode Lex on the regular Tuesday ride today with 5 other riders. Barb rode Dodah. Lex was absolutely fabulous!!!!! There is water everywhere and and areas of deep sticky gooey mud....very yucky. Lex walked through all that stuff just as calm as could be and he put his feet where I told him rather than trying to dodge out to the side of the trail where the ground gets really soft. A couple of times the horses in front of me took off in a fast trot and Lex wanted to go too, I could tell, but he waited for me to tell him it was ok, then he picked up a real nice saddle rack and we caught up with the other horses in no time. Lex kept his brain between his ears the whole time so I was able to ride him on a loose rein even while gaiting. Boy he is fast too.....He can gait with one hoof tied behind his back and not break a sweat while the other horses are trotting at a good clip. I only had him in second gear. At one place there was a tree down that we had to bushwack around. Lex got a little pushy and failed to turn exactly where I told him to and so he got his head all tangled up in some small branches that were hanging down pretty low. He kind of got a little worried and tried to back out of it but one of the branches was caught on his bridle so it followed his head and he couldn't get untangled. I got him to stand still and then was able to lift the branches off his head and he was real good and quiet while I did that. Today my Lex acted like a grown up horse and I was real pleased with him. I'm beginning to have a lot more confidence in him especially in groups where he's had trouble in the past.

Apr 22   Barb came over today with her horse. The plan was to take her horse and Amigo out for a short trail ride in the forest, Amigo hasn't been out in quite some time and needs to get on the trail. Well, best laid plans and all that..... Barb's horse is very high strung and very sensitive and as a young horse was poorly trained and ridden by some jerky cowboys. Since Barb has had him she's worked real hard on helping the horse to calm down and has done a good job with that but when she moved down here from the Dallas area her horse didn't handle it well. He eventually got ulcers and his behavior got so bad as a result that she had to quit riding get him. She treated the ulcers and has been slowly starting to ride him around her house. Today was his first trip away from home. He seemed calm enough until she got on him in the arena and then he just couldn't settle. So instead of going out on the trail we spent the entire morning trying to figure out how to get her horse to be more comfortable. The first thing I had her do was remove all his tack and let him run around the whole arena. He ran, he rolled, he bucked, he rolled some more. When it looked like he was through getting his Yeehaws out I had her go in there and see if she could get him to join up. It took another 30 min or so but he finally decided he was OK enough to follow her. At that point she put his saddle and bridle back on and got on. He was much more calm but then she noticed that he was chewing his bit and raising his head every time she made bit contact. I had told her a long time ago I thought she had too much bit on him....it was one of those mikmar combination bits and she said that was the bit he liked best so I didn't  push it. Today she noticed the head tossing and asked me about the bit. I got out Dodah's new mylar bit, a Imus bit and a bosal for her to try. The mylar bit was better but he still raised his head and opened his mouth when she asked for a halt. Then we tried the Imus bit. That one was a lot better...no more mouth gaping and he was mostly keeping his head down and certainly stretching down more while walking. We almost stopped there but she wanted to try the bosal so I put it on him and wow!!! That horse's eyes went so soft, his head went down, you could just see the relief! I spent a few minutes on the ground showing him the feel for bending and then taught him how to back up in it and then Barb got on him and they went around the arena just so calm and easy and I have never seen that horse so relaxed. She even trotted him and when she asked for a halt and back up his head stayed down the whole time and his eyes were just so soft. Bingo!!! I think we got it. She is going to bring him over several more times and ride him in the bosal in the arena until he can be relaxed from the beginning and we're sure this is the best for him, then we'll go out on the trail. So, Amigo didn't get any trail time today. That's ok. I did ride him in the arena, did a lot of work with getting him to stand still while I get on.....He still wants to swing his butt away when I put my foot in the stirrup. He'll side right up to the mounting block and stand real still until I raise my foot, then that rear end swings one step away....brat. I don't  think it's the saddle this time, but it could be....This is the one that has been fitting him the best and the sweat pattern seems OK and when I go to get on from the rail he stands real still....so something about the mounting block is different. It may be that I put more weight on the saddle and pull it more to the left side when I get on from the mounting block which would put pressure on his right shoulder if the saddle is the problem. Today since I was getting off and on so many times I had ample opportunity to correct him. I have started holding a dressage whip so that when he moves away with my foot in the stirrup I can cue him to come back. He's figured out that when I have the whip he should be still but if I don't have it he'll move. So today I finally got fed up and the last time I went to get on I kind of hid the whip. He moved his butt and I smacked him a good one. That hinney came over where it was supposed to be and he stood stock still for me to get on. Sometimes I just have to get more firm with him to get him to believe I mean what I say. It will be interesting in a few days, when I ride him again, to see if he remembers today's lesson. Today I also did a fair amount of trotting and he was better about picking up the trot and staying in it. Going to the right continues to be more difficult for him. He just can't bend to the right and maintain the trot very well. This is something that makes me wonder about that saddle.....but walking he has no trouble bending to the right.....maybe I should try him in a different saddle...again. I think the only one I haven't tried is Dodah's old Sommer endurance with the air panels. Might be worth a try, at least I might get a better idea whether the issue is balance or pain. Yep, on thinking about it, I will for sure try that saddle.
I forgot to add in my post yesterday that Lex was straight the whole time on the trail on tuesday. I had Barb check him from the rear several times, even while I was gaiting and she reported his tail was not even slightly kinked off to the left but was centered and relaxed and swishing. A couple of times I asked him to pick up a canter for a few steps and he got his leads too so I'm real happy with that. Jennifer comes out tomorrow to recheck him and we'll see how well he's doing.

Apr 23   Jenifer came over today to recheck Lex. What she found was that his back is in better shape than 3 weeks ago. His pelvis is still straight and he is more able to stretch his neck and legs.....In fact all the stretches were better and easier today. The only thing that was still an issue that she had dealt with last time was some crepitus in the sesmoids of his left rear leg. This could be arthritis resulting from the crooked pelvis, it could be that he has fractured sesmoids....I learned this is not unusual in horses and may not cause any pathology......A vet I know has found them in young horses getting X rays for a purchase exam..incidental finding, no lameness. The vet that removed the proximal sesmoid chips from my friend Marsha's horse did it because he said they can lead to arthritis later on. Her horse seemed a little more relaxed under saddle after that surgery but we couldn't decide if that was a result of the surgery or because of all the ground work training we did with her while she was confined after the surgery. Lex seems totally non painful in that fetlock, no swelling, no pain at all so I doubt I'll have him xrayed, at least not now. But I will pay attention to any swelling or pain in that area in the future of course. So, Jennifer was very pleased with our progress.....everything was better and no new problems so yea!
I also rode Amigo today. I used the Sommer saddle which is endurance style and very slick leather. Also the panels are air filled and while they make the saddle more comfortable for the horse, I'm not so comfortable in it because it feels too much above the horse ....The seat isn't deep enough and it's too slick. Still I used it because I wanted to see if he could bend easier to the right in it. However because I didn't feel secure I didn't trot him today. But I did a lot of walking and bending. I have started doing spiral in and out with him, trying to keep him bent to the inside of the circle whether moving into the circle or out. He found this particularly difficult....staying bent and stepping into the bend to reduce the circle is a maneuver he hasn't had to do yet and he just couldn't figure it out. I could get one or 2 good steps and I always let him rest and get pets after those steps but overall it felt like he was confused. So I decided to break the lesson down some more. I got him straight and then asked him to move his rear end one step to the right. He tried to do a simple turn on the forehand but that's not what I wanted....I wanted him to bend to the right by moving his rear end only and keep his shoulders straight....like haunches in. He tried every which way to do it but finally he bent himself and I let him relax. I only got him to do it successfully twice but that's OK because he was able to experiment without getting mad or frustrated like he used to do. Maybe he's learning it's OK if he doesn't understand something, that I will help him understand and will not punish him. I'll probably do more of this tomorrow and use the same saddle. Maybe the more I ride in it the more comfortable  I'll get with it. I do know he needs lots of this kind of lateral work because he is so stiff, especially on his right side. Oh and also while doing these exercises I paid particular attention to keeping his head low, real low. He tends to want to carry his head about even with his withers which is good but while bending he wants to raise his head. The bending will be better for him and will do more to strengthen his abdominal muscles more if he can keep his head a little lower while bending and stepping under. I also plan to start the carrot stretches like I'm doing with lex.

Apr 24   Aaaarrrgggg! My brain hurts! Jenifer referred me to Jean Luc Cornille a french trainer that appears to have done it all.....and his Web site Science of Motion. He has a bunch of articles, newsletters, videos, dvd, on his Web site and he gives clinics and lessons and there's a book too.....A lot of stuff to weed through. My brain hurts and my eyes are crossed from reading. His big thing is most horses have some physical issue that they learn to protect. In the process of protecting themselves they get crooked or learn to move in a way that prevents them from achieving their best athletic abilities. Often this shows up as imbalance in the muscles of the back. Dressage exercises are...or were...originally designed to biomechanically balance and strengthen those muscles in order that the horse can move most efficiently which also means straight through it's body. Unfortunately, dressage has become a sport with those exercises now turned into performances judged by people that have lost, or never had, a clear idea as to the real purpose of the exercises. Trainers, in an attempt to get the high score have taken short cuts, trained to the movement and not to the biomechanics and so those exercises that were meant to help the horse instead cause many many injuries. Well, that's worrisome. In one of the articles he goes into why "long and low" not only doesn't create a round back, it actually can cause the horse to invert. Wowsa. I always knew Lex wasn't getting round and lifting his back no matter how low I asked him to drop his head, now I know why. I'm so glad I'm too lazy to ever train with side reins or to insist that he keep his head low at all times. Also I think not riding him with constant contact did a lot to keep him from suffering too much damage. It also helps me understand how lifting his shoulders helped him to start to use his rear end better. Now I'm working with Amigo and from the beginning  I've known he doesn't bend well to the right. Now I think it's an imbalance in the muscles of his back....or at least that's part of the problem. The problem for me is figuring out how to strengthen those muscles. Jean Luc also talks about lateral bending of the vertebra which is pretty straight forward but there is also a rotational force to the vertebra as the spine bends laterally. When that rotational force is in the wrong direction, bad things happen. All this stuff is majorly hard to decipher....Jean Luc is french so his English is sometimes hard to understand, plus the material is somewhat technical. So I'm still just scratching the surface. Right now the more I read, the less I know. What I do know is not to try to get Amigo to drop his head any more than what is natural for him. Also it looks like I should be very careful with the lateral work....go slow, mostly walk right now, and be very careful to do it correctly....no forcing. Start by teaching the movements in little bits...like I was doing yesterday with the right bend. Only do a little at a time, do lots of straight walking and trotting. When I do work on circles, again go slow and be correct.....whatever that means....I'm still reading. Right now all I can say about "correct" is what I think I understand and that is if you're riding through a bend....corner or circle....and it feels like the horse is wanting to place your seat to the outside of the bend....that means his vertebra are rotated incorrectly and you need to change something. If the vertebra are rotated correctly, you should feel like your seat wants to stay right in the middle of the horse's back. Today I started carrot flexes with Amigo. I also did some of the stuff I did yesterday when I asked him to bend by moving his rear end over one step....not a turn on the forehand. Today it took him several tries but he finally figured it out. I also did spiral in and out both directions and he was better able to do that. Finally I asked for a few steps of shoulder fore....hopefully done correctly, and he seemed to somewhat get it. I didn't ask for much. One of the things that I read was in shoulder fore, when the horse loses its balance and stops, do a 90 degree turn on the haunches and then walk off in shoulder fore again. I didn't try that today as I just wanted to see if he could figure out what I was asking for. Another layer of the onion.....and what looks like many many more!

Apr 27. I finally finished most of the reading on Jean Luc's Web site and watched the videos and although what he says makes some sense and may be the neatest thing since sliced bread, I have a problem with his "program". He gives you all these articles about what's wrong with all these horses.....and how well they have recovered function with his re training program.....yada yada yada ....but he sure doesn't give much info about how to prevent the problems in the first place. You have to take his course, buy the books, watch the videos.....for mega bucks. I don't mind  paying for information, those guys gotta make a living, but I'd like a sneak peak of what I'm paying for. All he gives is some vague reference to subtle adjustments of the riders back making all the difference.....??????  Could he just be referring to good rider posture...sit up straight and don't adopt extreme postures like leaning way back to stop or flopping your weight to one side or the other. Can't justify spending bookoos of dollars to  learn what I already sort of know.( Even if I can't always DO it).  So until I have a chance to talk to Jennifer some more about this and maybe read some more, I'm going to continue on with Amigo as I have been doing....slowly, trying to help him stay balanced as well as I know how. Yesterday he gave me some pretty decent spirals...not perfect but getting better. I also got him to step his rear to the left while bending to the left....first time I had asked for that....and he figured it out after a bit. He seems to have that maneuver figured out to the right, or at least he did it easily enough yesterday. He still is having trouble trotting circles though. I was riding in the circle y saddle so that may have been the problem. Onward through the phog.
Hoowee!!!! Barb just came over with her horse. This will be his second ride in a bosal. We're trying to help him get over his nervousness and fear and taking the bit away seems to be the best thing yet for getting him to relax. Today he was so soft and relaxed that Barb wanted to try trotting him. He did real well but at first he kept wanting to speed up and he didn't understand when she asked him to slow down. So I told her to ask for the slow down and when he doesn't do it, put him in about a 10 ft circle and keep him there until he slows, then immediately release him and let him go straight. It only took him 3 tries before he figured it out and then he was rating like the good horse he is. Barb was over the moon happy.
I rode Amigo and wowsa he was super today. I only walked him but his bends were very good today. He did almost perfect spirals, as good as Lex can do them, he did his leg yields and finally he did the rear end step over that I taught him yesterday perfectly, the first time I asked and in both directions. What a sweetie. So I called it a day and got off. I think the trotting will come once he's more sure of his balance, at least that's what I'm hoping. I'm not going to push it right now anyway. When we get back out on the trail I know he's going to be happier about trotting out there.

Apr 28   My mom's birthday, she would have been 100 today. I miss her every day.
We rode in the forest today and man are those trails wet....sloppy sloppy wet. On several trails we actually were walking through rivers of run off several inches deep. And there were a bunch on downed trees after the storm Sunday....we had straight line winds almost 70mph and a small tornado went over about 20 miles away....we got some of the tail end of that. One Tree was particularly huge and Lex got his rear legs tangled up when he tried to cross. Poor guy was stuck pretty bad and he struggled for quite awhile until he was finally able to stumble across. He didn't  panic though. That was good. And once he got across he seemed a little more inclined to let me guide him through the tight spots. Before that he was sort of rushing through....that's what got him in  trouble on the log, he didn't listen when I told him to cross over the narrower part. Goof ball. And he skinned up his little legs pretty good too, I had to spray furacin on the cuts when we got home. What he doesn't know is those little scrapes have gotten him out of the overnight trail ride I was planning to take him on tomorrow. Dodah is going instead.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2015, 07:15:00 pm by zipeddodah »
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Tachie in east Texas
 Sam Houston forest is my back yard!
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