Monday, July 11, 2011

Wednesday: A horsey hump day

As promised, here is the first of the posts about my horsey stuff last week.  I'm going to try to cram all of these into the next couple of days, since I'm hoping to ride several days this week, and I want to get into the habit of posting after every ride, like I used to!

Wednesday was an especially horsey day, because I went down to my mother-in-law's house and worked with Rondo, the 2-year-old colt.  It was a big day for him — he got his first tube of dewormer since he was gelded almost a year ago.  He simply wasn't at a point where he could be dewormed easily, so my mother-in-law hadn't tried.  I didn't want it to turn into a rodeo, because I knew he'd remember that, so I gave him the dewormer in 4 separate doses, with lots of praise and treats in between.  By the third dose, he knew what was going to happen when he saw the tube coming, and tried to keep his head out of reach; by the fourth dose, he'd learned that didn't work, and stood patiently, if a little grumpily, for the rest of his dewormer.

Now I just need to be sure to mess with his mouth a lot during the next couple of months, so that he doesn't start thinking that every time I do so, he's going to get some foul-tasting paste squirted down his throat.

I'd brushed Rondo a bit before deworming, but I wanted to be sure to end on a good note, so I released him after the dewormer.  I had intended to pick his feet or lunge him, but standing for the dewormer was such a big deal that I wanted to reward him for it.  Plus, I've learned from experience that Rondo has a very short attention span (and very little patience once it runs out), and I didn't want to push so far that it would make it too hard to end on a good note.

My mother-in-law has been somewhat anxious to get her youngster under saddle, so even though we haven't done any training with him yet (he still doesn't even know how to lead without walking on top of you), she wanted to put a saddle on him.  My in-laws have something about putting kids on horses they have no business being on, so she told my 6-year-old nephew he could ride Montana.  I didn't think that was such a good idea, but I didn't entirely feel comfortable saying so.  My MIL stood in one stirrup a couple of times, until Montana got used to the idea of carrying some weight, and then she put my nephew in the saddle.  Montana was good, but as soon as he started shifting and pawing, indicating some impatience, I had my nephew get down.  We didn't walk Montana around with him on board or anything, as I thought that would be too much for Montana, since he didn't know the first thing about being ridden.

We did, however, put both my young nephews (one at a time) on a horse belonging to one of my mother-in-law's good friends.  She's been taking care of their horse while they travel, as the owner's wife is a traveling nurse, and he's been traveling with her for now.  Their horse has been sent away for training two or three times, the most recent being last winter, as he's bucked his rider off a half dozen times or so in the past.

The most recent trainer was supposed to continue riding him once a week or so after he returned to live with my mother-in-law, but he won't return their calls, so they don't really know whether the trainer has told the truth about what he did with Marine.  I tried lunging him a month or so ago, and discovered that someone — probably this last trainer — has taught him to run his ass off in one direction only.  Clearly someone wanted him to get good and tired before they got on!  I also discovered that Marine is a bit slow to figure out what you're asking of him, and when he doesn't understand, he tends to hit the panic button right away — I think it may be because someone has been impatient with him, and he's afraid of getting into trouble.

In any case, I didn't try lunging him or anything on Wednesday, just put a saddle on him.  There was some very obvious anxiety when he saw the saddle coming, so I tacked him up very slowly, taking the time to pat and reassure him.  He relaxed a bit, so I walked him around a little bit with the saddle on.  Marine tends to plant himself, so I worked on moving forward with a cluck; the lick-and-chew I got when I praised him for finally walking forward surprised me.  Has he never been praised for something like that, or has he not even learned it in the first place?  It seems like a rather elemental thing to be licking and chewing about at his age, and after professional training.

After our little walk, I got the girth tight and stood in one stirrup for a moment, got down, and praised him, then stood in it again.  Once I was sure he was relaxing for me, I sat in the saddle for a few minutes before getting down.

At this point Marine was pretty relaxed, so we gave each of the boys a short ride on him (once around a small round pen-sized circle).  My mother-in-law led him while I stuck close to the boy's side, ready to pull him off if Marine started looking nervous again.  But he remained relaxed, and seemed almost proud to be toting the boys around.

Pony rides on Marine

He doesn't look like a vicious bucking horse, does he?

I'm wondering if Marine just needs patience and a quiet rider whom he feels he can trust.  I felt like he started trusting me today, judging by his reactions to my praise and reassurances.  It's also possible that the few times he has bucked, there has been something specific to set him off.  He just doesn't seem like a bucker to me.  I may try riding him next time I'm there — with my helmet on, of course!

After I got home from working with my mother-in-law's horses, hubby and I ate dinner and went out to the barn so I could ride Panama.  During our last lesson, my trainer started having me do lead changes — transitioning down to a trot for a couple of steps across the diagonal, then picking up a canter again — so I wanted to work on that some more.  I am lucky that Panama doesn't seem to have any hang-ups about his leads; although he does better riding to the left, he will pick up either lead, and always seems to know which one to pick up.  (My trainer hasn't been having me cue which lead I wanted, since I was struggling with everything else I had to think about.)

Our practice went really well — Panama picked up the correct lead every single time, and I started thinking about when we could start doing flying lead changes.  The next day my trainer talked me through some of those a little bit — but more on that in my next post!



Post a Comment

<< Home