Friday, April 1, 2011

Priming the Pump

JB and Maggie both got some much needed attention yesterday. The grooming session left me sneezing and itching with the amount of hair that is being shed from my horses. Holy Hair!

JB and I are started revisiting ground work basics last night. I never get bored with this stuff because it seems that no matter how many times I do it, I always find some other small little thing to fine tune. My favorite thing to do to see how “little” it takes to get a horse to give me the response I am looking for. It’s amazing how little it can take!

With a year of being pampered, spoiled, loved on and being asked nothing of, it appears that JB needs a lot of fine tuning. Last night, a few observations I made and worked on:

-He blocks his right side…that’s to be expected. When I put my self on his right side, he will try to reposition himself to that I am on his left side. Or he will try to block me from coming from his left side to his right side with moving his head into my way as I come around the front of him. He’s very sly about it to…

-He travels stiffly on the end of the line as I ask him to travel around me clockwise. He falls in with the right shoulder.

-He wants to be in my space all the time and is not comfortable being at the end of the line. He wants to keep coming into me. He can’t just stand at the end of the line and be there mentally or physically.

-He wants to lead me instead of me leading him.

I realize I have created a lot of these issues as he has gone through his recovery. I'm okay with that and fully expected it. It’s a small price to pay considering the alternative. He knows this stuff, we just had to grease the gears up a bit. It took some doing but by the end of the session, as we took a walk down the road, he was light as feather on the end of the lead, watching my cues with intense concentration and getting ready for my direction. If I slowed my paced, he slowed his, if I stopped, he stopped at my side. He did several alternating turns on his haunches and forehand without any trouble or resistance. The blocking of his right side still needs some work, but that will come in time.. he’s protecting that side… we'll work through it.

I think the mental stimulation will be good for him. He seems to be longing for a purpose, a job. Purely by mistake, I have started working on some trick training with JB. He seems to have taken a liking to having me call him in from the pasture, he comes galloping up to me, stopping only a millisecond from crashing into me, I pet him , then I send him off, he goes galloping away, I call him again, repeat, repeat. It was the funniest thing when he just did it out of the blue and it was definitely his idea. Now I just have to figure out how to get him to do it on command!

I have only dabbled into trick training in the past and only know very little about it. I have great respect for those that do it successfully because it requires a huge amount of time and commitment and trusting relationship between handler and horse.

With Maggie, I also spent a few minutes revisiting groundwork basics before I hopped into the saddle. My session with her ended up being mostly walking. She would have liked to have gone faster but I knew if I asked for any trotting it would have just turned into a fight. Instead, I spent about 45 minutes working on circles and lateral work to keep her brain engaged on the task at hand instead of getting out away from me. Maggie, being a Morgan, has a natural tendency to get High headed so I spend a lot of time working her long and low. She’s still learning.

All in all, It felt damn good to climb back in the saddle and actually accomplish something with a horse again.

I will be traveling next week and will lose another week of training but it's early in the season and there is rain rain rain in the forecast...

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