Monday, August 25, 2008

Reminding my horse who is boss...

After my difficulties with Panama on yesterday's trail ride, I decided that I need to start riding every day again and reminding him who is boss, so that hopefully the next trail ride isn't so bad.

I've discovered that I really like riding first thing in the morning when I get out to the barn, before I turn the horses out and clean their stalls. During the week I am typically the only one there during the day, except for the occasional comings and goings of the owners, so I can ride uninterrupted. So this morning when I arrived, the first thing I did was to groom Panama and tack him up.

Panama and I had a few "discussions" this morning about doing things my way. The first one was about balking when I tried to lead him out of his stall — something he's being doing lately when I am leading him by his halter instead of a lead rope. (I think he realizes that I have less control when I just have a hand on his halter.) Rather than going to get the lead rope, I decided to just deal with it, and made him back up and go in little circles around me until he finally gave it up and followed me meekly out of the stall.

The next "discussion" was about moving forward while I mount and when I haven't yet given the command. I made him stand for five or ten minutes when I first mounted — basically until he figured out that he had to actually wait for my command.

After that, we had a pretty good ride. The only other discussions we had were quickly resolved — staying on the rail (though not too close, as I've been a little wary of that since the mailbox incident) while riding clockwise, and backing up in a straight line rather than swinging his butt around.

My trainer has often said that it's not how long you ride, but what you accomplish that matters. Well, once again we only rode for about 15 or 20 minutes, but I really felt that we accomplished a lot today!

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