Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Wild Pony Classes begin

This past weekend I think we got an official start on  ground work training sessions with Otto. T's schedule has been crazy lately with teaching and coaching but this weekend, he had time to help me. And I really need help with Otto and his ground work right now.

The goal:  Leading and begining to learn the concept of a Lunge line

Our pasture is still icey in spots , but the 50 degree weather is quickly resolving that for us, now creating sloppy standing water in some spots where the ground is still frozen underneath so not exactly great for working a horse on. Fortunately, we live on a dead end road where there is a grave cul-de-sac with almost perfect footing.  I did not want to take this training task on by myself because Otto is quite full of himself. I was concerned that he might jerk away from me and if he did, we could have a very scary situation.  He could run a long ways , in multiple directions and no matter which way he went, he would ultimately end up on a road. Otto is pretty wild right now between spring, the hormones and just being a young healthy colt.

So how did it go?

Leading correctly:
(this means next to the person, not behind them or in front of them or trying to pull away in the opposite direction)

T lead him over , through , and around various obstacles at hand, like the roadway ditch, a 2 foot pile of snow from plowing ( yes, we still have areas with that much snow) and various puddles . Otto had to pay attention to his feet and what T was asking or risk stumbling.  Otto tends to either either surge ahead of the person or drags behind. The method of having Otto go through various types of footing or obstacles kept Otto better engage mentally than just  walking along. Otto isn't good at keeping track of too many things at this point so if he has to focus on where he is putting his feet, he is less likely to be trying to do something naughty. It worked and within a few minutes Otto was was stopping when T stopped and walking ahead when T walked on.. and staying at T's side most of the time.  Otto's attention span is much like a knat right now so keeping him focused for any length of time is alot to ask. We define success in small windows right now!

Lungeing.. I will just say this. It started out really ugly. T only asked for Otto to walk on the end of a longer than normal lead line.. about 14 feet. It seems that Otto knows about lungeing. If I had to guess, I would say he has probably been lunged in the past , but incorrectly. He is pretty sure that  he is supposed to run around at the end of the line at Mach Chicken speed. There was a bit of leaping into the air, flinging his Araby head , rearing, and whole lot of other junvenile moments as T persistently and carefully requested Otto to seek another answer. I feared more than once he was going to jerk away from T's grasp. When he couldn't  get his way, he would start trying to bite at the the lead rope under his chin. Biting = Frustration.  It took some crafty timing on T's part with the flag, working between sending him forward (flag placed behind him or at the hocks, about where a lunge whip would eventually be)   and slowing him down (flag coming forward in front of him). Eventually he was able to make one or two trips at the end of the lead rope , head down , in a walk. And I could stop holding my breath. I was probably turning blue and about to tip over.

When we finished all that, we went back to the barn and I groomed on him while T held him since he doesn't stand tied yet. I worked on picking up his feet. This is coming along really well because we have done alot of it. I groomed his belly, which he hates , but is learning to tolerate a little better each time.

What Otto doesn't seem to mind at all, and somewhat surprising, is the bow and arrow.  Otto just stands there right next to T while he shoots his bow.  In fact, T often has to chase Otto away so  he can actually shoot without Otto becoming a target.  At one point, T was shooting over Otto's back, from behind Otto.  (yes, I do trust T's accuracy) Otto just stood there watching the arrows fly, seemingly facinated with the whole thing. T is now trying to covet Otto for his next archery horse given his acceptance of the whole thing.  Meanwhile,  Brego , who was supposed to be T's next archery horse,  stands as far away as possible from the dreaded Bow. After 4 years, Brego still doesn't think too much of the Bow. Good thing I am cross training him for jumping. It appears we will be sharing horses for years to come.
Now that spring is here  and the days are longer, ( DST, I love you!) I have decided to enroll Otto in my hubby's groundwork program for the season. He's giving me a discounted price that I couldn't refuse.

Actually, I really, really,  really wanted to be able to do all this ground work , colt starting  on my own but  I realize Otto needs to have some issues addressed first before I can feel comfortable being the one handling him for certain things at this point.  Age has a funny way of humbling a person and making us realize we all have our strengths.

>>>>>Jonna swallows her pride>>>>>

Otto's rearing and airs above ground to avoid doing what is asked is not safe for me. T is much better at keeping calm and working a horse through issues like this. I will continue to work Otto on other things like getting used to spray bottles, clippers, walking over rails, through water, over tarps,  etc. but T will work out the other kinks. As hard as it is to accept that, I think it's best for everyone.

By season end, I want to have a different colt than I do now. One that I can easily lunge, lead, tie and pony without risk of him running away, rearing, or biting. It's not asking too much , is it??

Thursday is the first step to getting there.

Stay tuned!


Mel said...

SInce I didn't have the desire to do everything on my own I can't imagine the disappointment but I applaud your wisdom in being flexible for the good of both yourself and Otto. He sounds like quite a handful right now!

Jonna said...

Thanks Mel- It seems my quest to find a nice quiet horse is doomed.I just always seem to draw the tougher ones..! Beginning to rethink my judgement in horses!I am thankful I have a husband who can do help me with this because finding a suitable trainer around here is impossible !