So, as I said the other day, we found a nice PVC pipe thing that would work as a trot pole and are currently trying to find a few others. I tried to get Red used to it the other day, he would walk over it without much of a fuss once he was THERE and had to, but he did want to bolt past it and was definitely NOT going to trot over it. So, I hopped on yesterday, did some slow work around them to get him used to them, and to see what kind of horse I had. Since he’s been very energetic lately I wanted to start off making sure he was in a good frame of mind and that he had his listening cap on, so I started off working with some neck reining, which we’ve been working on more. I’ve done so much open reining because it was easier to bump him and ask him to collect with open reins and that’s what we did in my lessons for the most part, that his neck reining was rusty to say the least. He’s gotten better with it, and yesterday he managed some really nice turns and circles with very light neck reining. Not really reining horse worthy but pretty darn good 😉 I walked him, tested the neck reining at the places that he doesn’t want to turn (like making him turn around right before the gate, which equals a longer ride, lol.) and would ask him to turn just using light cues and bumping him on the neck and he turned perfectly both ways and backed up nicely too. So, I let him trot around the arena for a few minutes, worked on the neck reining at that speed and he did very well, did some circles and he was great and very collected and very focused on me, so we went to the pole. And oh my goodness, he was SO good.
The first time was interesting – he took a weird step and ended up kind of jumping over it from a standstill, and the next few times he clipped the pool with his back legs because he wasn’t extending enough, so not perfect, but he was trying hard and that’s good enough for me! 🙂 He didn’t want to trot over it from the right side of the round pen, but the left side was great. When I ride next (either today or tomorrow) we’re going to work on his harder side, maybe even throw in some canter if he’s as good as he was yesterday! I did get him to trot over it from the right side once before we quit, and it wasn’t fabulous, but once he did it he was like, “oh, lol, I didn’t die after all!!!” so I’m hoping he remembers that lesson and does it better next time.
Quick disclaimer – I seemed to have pulled a muscle in my groin area and my riding SUCKED yesterday. I couldn’t keep my butt in the ride place and posting was a painful nightmare, and my stirrups are uneven and I haven’t found a good length quite yet, so please, excuse my terribleness. I plan on sucking less later.
I’m beyond proud of him, I’m seeing so much progress and I’m seeing a horse who is slowly learning how to use his body and it’s making such a difference. His trot was SO comfortable yesterday and he was just happy. Once he got the hang of it, I would take him to the corner were we start our trot, and I would kiss, and he’d trot off and go STRAIGHT to the pole and go over it without me nudging him over at all. I tried a few different directions and he would go to the pole himself and trot over it. I actually called my mom up to watch and she remarked that she thinks he wants to either be an obstacle horse or a jumper, rofl. Either way, he likes poles.
And side passing is slowly but surely happening, he’s actually trying to take a couple steps to the side, it’s just getting him to move his hindquarters a bit more that has proven to be the challenge. Poles will help with that too.
This is my…6th? ride in the new saddle and I’m seriously amazed at the difference in my horse. It’s literally like I’m riding a different animal. Not only that, but he’s actually happier in the pasture, and I’m really wondering if it’s because his back isn’t sore now. He’s running in the pasture more, and when he see’s my tack, he’s not running away from me. He’s trotting much more comfortably, lowering his head easier, and just seems like he’s enjoying things and like he’s happier. I’m eager to try the canter 🙂
A few takeaways from my recent rides,
- Red will do anything I ask if I ask him to do it with confidence and if I seem to be happy and eager to do it. If I’m asking him and I’m grumpy, or nervous, he will refuse me.
- In that same note, PRAISE HIM. He’ll try to do whatever it is I’m asking and he’ll do it much happier if I praise him and talk to him throughout the ride. The second time we trotted over the pole, after he had that weird hairy moment of jumping it, he wanted to balk at it, I talked and praised him and patted him on the neck and he went right over. This horse is sensitive and needs praise.
- He is capable of being relaxed, calm, happy and easy going. I just have to learn how to be the same way and make sure I remember that if he’s being bad, chances are, he’s being hurt by something or very bothered by something going on, it’s not just him being a jerk. Because he doesn’t have a mean bone in that body of his.
- He likes doing new things, so keep making sure to do new things. He gets bored of arena work, so do I, so take him on a trail. Take him in the hayfield, bring new things in the arena, switch up the routine, and he’ll be happy.
- I’ve known this horse for almost four years, and I CAN handle him. We make a good team, and I need to remember that. A quote from mom when I got nervous on a recent ride (we were going uphill on a new trail that was uneven, Red was nervous because I was nervous and he wanted to bolt up the hill) “You’ve known this horse for three years, he’s never tried to hurt you, everything bad he’s ever done has either been because of rider error or because he’s hurting. Calm down, and he’ll calm down, you’ve got the most seasoned horse out here.” and sure enough, I calmed down..and voila, my horse is walking up the trail.
Our farrier comes out on the 1st, and Red definitely needs a trim. His hooves always start growing so rapidly this time of year, it’s time to move our trims up to every 6 weeks instead of 8 weeks like we do in winter. Then, I’m going to schedule him a massage as soon as I can.