Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ending on a good note

Saturday- yesterday, I took Trax and Killian down to the arena.  I made Simon go with me so that he would get his nose out of the dang video game. (I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and he has taken it upon himself the down load all kinds of free games and I rarely even get to use the darn thing)

It was a good day for a ride, and when we got there the arena was empty!  Perfect.

He rode Killian who was happy for that, since little kids mean a lot less work.  Simon needed a little help saddling him (short kid tall horse) but that was all, he picked his feet out, and did all of his ground work all on his own, and did a fine job of it too. Then he climbed up in that saddle without a step or a boost or anything. I was pretty darn impressed.  Then I left them to their own demise but made sure he knew that the big boy needs some exercise so I expected to see some trotting.

I knew that I wanted to work with Tax and his rope issues, so we started with lunging but added a rope on the saddle horn and down around  his back end.  Not tight, but there.  He reacted a little at first but then settled right down. Nice!

I mounted up, he stood as still a statue and did not move till I asked him too.  He was a little wound up, took a few spins to get that lateral flex without moving his feet.  Once we got that down then we did our serpentine drill for a bit.  It was less time then before, because he is getting to where he anticipates the turns now.

 Oh I also switched bits on him, to something with a little bit of shank.  Not a lot, but something that I can legally use in a RH Comp.  It pivots in the middle, but I do not know what it is called.  I threw my idea that I needed to stick to the d-ring snafffle.  He is not a young colt. This is not an unseasoned horse. I have seen some of the bits that previous owners have used on him. Much harsher than this little old thing.  It took us both a minute to get used to it, as it functions a little differently, but it didn't take long. So that was good.

I asked for some flexation at the poll, got more fight than give.   I decided he had too much energy and we proceeded to lope. Now here is the thing. I get Parelli news letter via email, and I read constantly on what to do with a horse like Trax.  They all say working their feet and their mind will get you farther than just running the piss n vinegar out of them. That may be true, but I have learned that with him, a really fast moving," I really wanna go" type of horse, sometimes just giving it to him is the right answer. Especially if you consider that I am not a super smart big time trainer with a full bag of tricks in my pocket.  Am I taking the easy way out?  Perhaps, but it also does something for me.  It gives me a good steady lope with which to practice "my seat".

So we loped...a very fast, high headed, I wanna race sort of lope.  I did my best to just relax and sit down in my seat and move with him.  Pretty soon I saw his head drop.  This is where I always wonder if he is putting down so he can buck or just putting down to show that he is giving in a little. I felt him slow down, he was giving in, I urged him faster.  We did a few more laps and then he really wanted to stop. So we stopped and turned in the other direction, and went again.  This time it was fast for a second,  then nice and smooth, and relaxed.  His head was down I was feeling good in my seat. So we switched to big figure eights, a little less speed but a little more thinking.  We did about 10 of those and then I asked for a stop.  I asked for a good stop.  He gave it to me to the best of his ability. I said Whoa, and sat back and he really tried.  Now I suspect that my timing was off because it wasn't what you would call a  sliding stop.  But I was happy with his try.

After that we walked, and cooled down a little. I took him to the wall where the rope was at.  I was able to use a leg yield to get him over to it.  I was even able to reach over and grab it before he bolted!  I had to use my one rein stop and it took a minute but finally he relaxed.  We walked around the arena while I smacked the rope against my leg and slid it over his butt.  It took a few but he worked through his fears and I was careful not to hurt him with it.  Then we roped a barrel and dragged it around.

The first time it hit his butt he spun around and dragged it any good rope horse does.  I couldn't fault him for doing what he was taught to do, but I asked him again to just drag it.  He did so without question.  YES!!!! (fist pump)

If you would like to see him drag the barrel you can watch the video right here.  I did notice that when the barrel came into his vision, he tried to turn towards it again, but I just urged him on and he kept going.  Also if you watch closely you get just a glimpse of Killian who is standing quietly untied to the side holding the camera bad. Simon hooked it on his saddle, put the reins up on his neck, and said, "Stay"  Killian didn't move a muscle...what a good boy.

After we did that we did a second video.  It is not as good but I am going to share it anyway.  I ask him to spin slowly in a circle. He is trying, but his hind end moves too much. Afterwards we go over the bridge, and then I ask for the side pass.  He does it some to left but you can barely tell to due to the angle of the camera, but when I turn him around and ask for it to the right he does a wonderful job, which is why I am posting  that video.  As I watched it again, his spins aren't even close. I have to figure out how to get him to sit back some so his hind end stays in place.

I had a video of us cantering and stopping but my camera kid is not good at holding the camera still and he shut it off right at the beginning of the stop so it isn't worth watching.  I'll try again next time.

After we shot that last video I called it day for old Trax. He was really sweaty and some dressage riders were gearing up to ride.  I did shoot a couple of videos of Simon on Killian which I will post later on.

See how I brush his hair up so it dries faster?

Trax:  Did I do good Lady?
Me: You did fantastic buddy!

One sweaty pony

Now what I learned from my videos is that I am still awkward in my riding, and my cues are too big, I need to get them smaller.  I still have a long ways to go, but I feel like I/we made great progress.


  1. I too have a horse that likes fast all the time. And if she is just thinking about fast I let her go too, no point in trying to make her brain work till she is ready either.

  2. Oh and the spins, I am not a trainer either, I have just figured if you walk a small circle the ask the to go right into a spin just for a step or two at first and do it a few times (always ask for the spin at the same spot) then pretty soon they just seem to do it.

    If that makes sense, lol, sounds kinda crazy when I read it as well.

  3. Haha, same with Crystal about pony, just sit back and they will let you know when they are ready!!

    You might want to try working on the spin from the ground too, it might help him to figure out what you want easier. Maybe if you stand in front of him and move around him in a circle and get his front end to follow, he won't have the ability of stepping forward, because then hes stepping on you, so it might help plant his hind a little more, and show him that you don't want movement from his hind.

    Obviously, I really don't know what I'm talking about, but it makes sense to me that that might be helpful!!

    But his side pass looks wonderful!!

  4. A bit with both shanks and a joint in the middle can be quite harsh and I have rarely seen a horse that went comfortably in one. He might be more willing to flex at the poll if you use a shank bit with a straight (mullen) mouth or mild port. Sorry not sure what terms for things are there. Here in oz a shanked bit with a joint is called a Western Snaffle but I think it is different there.

  5. so I tried to reply to each comment but...argh, computer issues again.
    @ Crystal- I originally started to teach him spins that way, but we weren't gettng anywhere at all, so we switched to using the wall to teach him to move off my leg. He obviously has learned that now, so perhaps going back to the circles is the right move now. Thanks for that reminder.
    @ Marissa- yours is also a very good idea. Ground work really helps my riding cues click with him so there is no reason why I shouldn't give that a try as well.
    @ Keechy- I do not knew near enough about bits, so thank you for that information. I really appreciate it.

  6. Also, another thing that could work but could be the least helpful thing in the world is try putting his hind in a tire if you have one available. Or try making a small circle with cones around his hind, it might help to have a more visual 'this is where she wants my hind to stay'. It could also freak him out though, but it's worth a mention if it could possibly help!