Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No More Appys For Me =(

Spotless is coming along great in training and is growing into a lovely young gelding. I decided to make a big decision and I gave Spotless to my best friend Michelle as an early birthday present. She is living with us and so Spotless is staying here, but she is taking care of him and paying for his feed and doing his training herself. She has never owned her own horse before but has lots of experience with them. I am here to help her out if she needs it, but she is getting to be a good horse-trainer.

We are getting to borrow a round-pen which is amazing! Michelle has been teaching him to ground-drive in the round-pen with the side-reins and long-lines so that he knows how to steer before she tries to ride him again. He's made leaps and bounds in that.

On Mother's Day, Michelle put a ride on him and he does best with contact on the reins and then leg contact to urge him forward if he gets confused. He did really well. They went about 10 or 15 minutes doing walk/halt/walk transitions. Then she got on him again about 3 days later and he got flustered and she ended up coming off and it shook her, so she decided to do more ground-work to get her confidence back up. I suggested attacking the issue he has with not wanting to listen to the bit or stop well to the reins, so she's been focusing on that. I am really impressed with their progress.

I had not been able to take him out of the arena much since I always had Dazzle getting my main attention, so Michelle has been working with him taking him on walks. The first day we walked over to my grandma's house he was terrified of the cows and screamed at Marigold who we left in the arena the whole time. Michelle had to lunge him in the yard and keep refusing him to get him to pay her any attention. Yesterday was our 4th walk I think, and he is still nervous of the cows, but she didn't have to lunge him at all. He just eyed them well as they walked by the pasture. She put side-reins on him to help get him accustomed to the bit since he hates it and also because he likes to pop his head up and go into zoned-out-appy-mode. I wouldn't have though of that, but it worked really well. Our goal was to make it to the road on the other side of the property and let him see cars going by.

She let him stand and watch cars from about 20 feet from the road for awhile, then we walked up and he stood next to the road for a few cars, then she walked down the road a ways and back and let cars pass by. He didn't spook at all and didn't care at all. I was really impressed with him. I've never walked him on the road before and he acted like it was nothing. Michelle was very heartened by it and I got some video of him walking down the road with a car going by.

After our successful car walk we came back home and he wasn't even sweaty, so she put him in the round-pen to show me how their ground-driving was coming. She had made some good choices in how to do it that I hadn't thought of when I'd done it before and I really didn't have many pointers. Just to use a driving whip to tell him forward when he "stalls" and not to slap the reins as the go-forward cue since you need to be able to have contact on the reins like you would when riding him. She can have him halt/walk/trot and even turn left/right. He stops and thinks about the turning, then does it. It was really neat to watch. She's getting it to go way better than how I was doing it. She has the side-reins on him, which I didn't think of, and it helps keep him from putting his head up and twisting himself up in the lines. She also has the lines attached to the top rings of the surcingle instead of the side rings and then they don't get stuck on his butt when he turns.

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