Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Too Smart For His Own Good

5 o'clock finally showed up about 12 hours later.  Okay well it seemed that way, and I raced home changed and ran out to grab my horse.  As I was loading him in the trailer I got a call from a guy who was coming into town to buy hay cubes...DRAT!!

Luckily I was able to pawn that chore off on TC, and I just kept on rolling.  For some reason it took me forever to get my trailer backed into my parking spot.  Probably because McDiesel (the owner of the property) was there was teasing me about my trailer parking abilities.  I don't function well under pressure!  Well critical guy pressure anyways!

Then we got to work.

I did things differently this time. Once I got on him we went straight to obstacles without actually "warming" up.  My goal was to get his mind working before his feet, and see where we went from there.   We did the rope gate and the cones, of course the bridge (which he tried to cheat on- so we did it twice) and then I had taken my box and made it into the L-pattern for backing through a corner.  Smart move on my part too, because we struggled with it the first couple of times.

We did it from one end first which had him bending to the right to get through it and he had it down after a couple of tries without a single fault. But then I decided to try it from the other end which had him bending to the left.  He kept wanting to back towards the right which had him stepping on the poles. I would move his him and get him lined out and then he would do it again.  Then as we made our corner he didn't want to move his shoulder right. We did it over and over again. Finally I decided to give him a break.  I find that with Trax, drilling and drilling into him can frustrate him, and he felt a little frustrated.

We did the log pull, which I am glad I decided to do. We hadn't really messed with it in a while and at first he was a little bothered. Not bad but more than he needed to be so we dragged that log to Texas and back.  I even made him drag it backwards. I could tell his roping memories were kicking in because although he wanted to keep the rope taught he did not think it was right to drag it.  I could tell he was confused a little so we took it nice and slow.  Once he understood he did fine.

We did the rope gate from the right.  The best way I can describe it was "textbook".  The only thing he doesn't like is if I make him do it slowly. He likes to show that he knows how to do it and gets impatient if I make him settle too long.  But I explained to him that if we do it slow then we can do it absolutely perfect and I know how much of a perfectionist he is. So then he agreed and we did it slow and perfect.  We also did it to the left, and again he did great.

One of the things we worked on a lot was backing up with me only using one hand. I have always used two hands and sort of bumped/seesawed the reins to get him to really drive back and drop his head.  But in the classes I can only one hand.  This results in a head held high very stiff reverse and I don't care for it.  So to work on that I would ask one handed and just keep asking until he dropped his head, and then I would release and praise him.  By the end of the night he was dropping his head 98% of the time.  He might would start off with head up high, but dropped it almost immediately and once he drops his head, he flies back.

Then we went back to the L and tried it again from the tough side.  He did better but still faulted, so we did it one more time. This time he did it perfect so we left it alone.

Time to move on to "reining".  My goal was to really make sure that my cues were clear in his mind. So we did a lot of transitions.  The posting for a faster trot is totally the way to go for him. I don't have to use any leg, or even a cluck or a smooch. I just start posting and he picks up the pace. It is smooth like butter.  As soon as I sit down solid and say "easy" he drops it back down to that sit-able trot that I love love love. We also did a lot of softening at the jaw.  He is doing very well on that.

We moved on to cantering, which at first was a little chargey but I just made my circles smaller, asked him to rate and relax and pretty soon he did. So I just let him go to his zone for a bit, making sure our leads were correct and we just cruised.  After a bit he was feeling pretty good so I decided to try a pattern.

My pattern choice this time was much more difficult. There were more tasks involved and it took several times of stopping and starting over for me to memorize it.  Once I had it down then we really went to work.  If he failed the task I would go back and make him do it over, and we would go from there. If he took off in the wrong lead I would circle around and we would start again from where ever he messed up at.

I figured out that if his hip was starting to fall out on his spins I could actually just move my foot back and sort of side pass him out of it. I don't know if that makes sense, but it seems to help.  I had to laugh at him because he is starting to try and spin faster. The problem with that is that if I let him, and it is more than just one spin, he ends up falling out completely. So I have to keep him slowed down.

He reminds me of a little kid, "Hey Mom, look what I can do!" (and then proceeds to almost do a cartwheel)

There was one section where we go from a canter to an extended trot over poles. I really blew it for him there by trying to slow him down to the trot and speed him up to the extended trot with my posting all at the same time. He totally fell apart and had no idea what I was asking.  So once I figured out what the problem was I just slowed him down and rode it through without posting. It wasn't comfortable but at least the pace was correct.

We struggled with the lead change from right to left, which surprised me, but he was trying so hard to give me the right leads (and the pattern called for more of those) that when I asked for the left the first time, it threw him.  Eventually he understood though and so on our final attempt we did pretty darn good.  We completed the entire pattern with no major mistakes.  I say major, because with him a reining pattern is never   perfect.  He sure does try hard though.  It was funny too, because we would do the last task, I would rest him a minute and pet him, and then kick him forward. He would head over to our starting point, line himself out and wait for me to say, "Walk".

After our last run I took him over to the L one more time. He did it perfect so we called it a day. I dropped the reins and told him to walk and just let him meander over to the gate. I expected him to stop but he didn't.  He kept walking and just sort of meandered around the arena. Over by the paint horses, around the bridge, past the gate, and then he went to the L.

I swear I am not making this up....He went to the L and walked through it.  Not across it, but through it.  I was waiting to see if he was going to stop at the end of it and back up through it, but he didn't, he just kept walking. But I couldn't stop laughing at him. He is such a silly boy.  A little too smart for his own good.

Finally we were back at the gate and I told him whoa and he finally stopped.  He was rewarded with a good roll in the dirt and a chance to graze on the thick yummy grass.

I was rewarded by a nice chaff mark inside my right knee.  :(


  1. Thank you for the compliment on my blog. I came over to see what's going on and had a read back through some of the previous posts... You're moving to AZ? Maybe we can meet up for a ride when you get here?

    For reining and dressage patterns, the rule of thumb is to focus on the elements of the test, not the test/pattern itself. Slowly perfect the movements, one by one. It takes time, so no worries there. If things don't go right or perfect- just stop. Take a breath, relax, let it go and try it again. There's no reason for us to get upset and when we do either the horse gets upset or we take it out on them and neither one is good. It just wasn't right, so you tried again. No big deal and I can tell you this- you won't get it right or perfect every time. None of us do. You will improve though and get it right more often.

    Before each obstacle- stop the horse. Take a deep breath and then do the obstacle how You pictured doing it in your mind. Go into it with purpose, confidence and intent. If things start to get a little off base- stop, pause or at least slow down and fix it. Slow and right beats fast and wrong every time.

    If thinks go great in one class, they may not in the others. That's part of showing. You may also have a great ride and not get pinned at all. Or you can screw up, thinking you bombed out and place afterall. You may or may not win. It is only the judges opinion based on what they seen that day. Some of them offer tips an suggestions- I like the ones that do.

    Your horse WILL do things to keep you humble. That awesome stop, smooth transitions or flying changes they do at home- went flying right out the window the second you entered the arena. My pony has done his share of this and they Always pick a time when We are most uptight about it or think we are getting too big for our britches... Never fails!

    If you want to email me- cut n jump 1 @ yahoo .com without the spaces.

  2. Sounds like its coming together for you and Trax. That is pretty entertaining that he walked through the L when relaxing :)

  3. I'm so glad it's all coming together so well!

    I thought of you today, and your Danny. I think I may have met a horse with stringhalt. Very weird looking. It was on both hinds, the legs really hiking up there, and it was really pronounced when he backed up. He's gaited too so that made it even stranger to watch. I guess he's one heck of a trail horse even with his problem.

    1. Yes that is definitely stringhalt. It is not very often that you see it on both legs though. They say riding is the best thing for them, and I believe that too be true. Danny has certainly digressed since I stopped riding him, which is what my rehab was all about. Unfortunately it has sort of fallen by the wayside again. Hopefully once we get moved and I have an arena in the back yard I will be able to start back up again.