Thursday, April 23, 2009

Boys will be boys

I've been brainstorming about how to successfully (and without a lot of fight!) address Gabe's lack of desire to move forward off the leg at ANY gait. I could sit there and beat the snot out of him with a crop or kick kick kick until he gets it, but that's really not what I'm aiming for. I don't want to harangue and harass him until he gets the answer right, I want to work with him in the most non-confrontational manner as I can until I am forced to resort to something more demanding and uncomfortable for him. I am not afraid to be harsh with him if necessary, but I've found, with him in particular, it ends up being counterproductive because he shuts down when he doesn't understand what I'm asking and doesn't understand why he's being reprimanded. It's a lot like punishing a kindergartner for not being able to read Hemingway or Voltaire. He tries really hard to figure out what I'm asking and when he gets confused, he just shuts down and the naughty behavior emerges full on.

So, I'm going to use my husband and his mare, Calypso, to help me get the point across to Gabe about this moving forward off the leg thing. I know Gabe knows how to follow a pony horse, he did it for the first half of his life, and that's what Calypso is going to be until we work through this. The trick will be timing, by both myself and my husband, so that Gabe understands leg pressure means move forward, and Calypso is only there to provide INCENTIVE to move forward when I put my leg on and give the verbal command to walk. I really don't think this will take very long, maybe a couple of sessions. I discovered in our last session that he really, really, really opposes the crop. He's not scared of it, he just doesn't like it and kicked out at it more than once when I gave him a spank and bucked/crow hopped with additional spanks. Mind, I didn't whack him hard, and definitely no harder than a jockey ever whacked him, but the reaction was very, very negative. I pissed him off and as soon as he's pissed off I can forget about accomplishing anything of any kind of worth for that session. I can rub the crop all over his body and tickle his ears with it from the saddle, he just doesn't like to be spanked. What a prima donna.

We were going to try the pony horse session yesterday, but my husband wasn't feeling very well so he declined to ride. *sigh* That's the downside with this training partner has to be willing to help me train.

So, I longed Gabe instead. And he was a BRAT. He wanted to play on the line and kept trying to stop to eat grass which just irritates the crap out of me and is extremely bad behavior. Then there was the running out issue he decided to engage in. Every time he came around the circle on the west edge he'd duck his head, buck and try to take off running towards the gate area hauling my behind him. WRONG! That earned him the longe line over his poll and clipped to the opposite bit rather than onto the longing dee I normally use. Bad, bad horse. And he kept trying it, over and over and over again and he got punished each and every time. He finally gave up, heaved a gigantic sigh, chewed the bit, dropped his neck and got to work. After that he was golden...responding to the voice commands, spiraling in and out as I asked, slowing down and speeding up when I asked and really paying attention to everything.

Boys...sometimes they just have to get the spit and vinegar out of their system before they decide to get their butts to work!


  1. Boy does that sound like Ace (other than the lunge line stuff). He just shuts down when he's confused or if I use a crop. I like the ponying idea. the other thing that worked with Ace was havin someone on the ground follow him with a lunge whip. I would cue him, and if he didn't respond all they had to do was raise it behind him and off he'd go. Of course, he was very responsive to lunging. Might be a good tactic to try if Gabe settles down with his groundwork.

  2. I had to laugh, because that's how Poco is almost every time. Sometimes he gives up sooner than others, but he always has to mess with me. It's what he does. I'm mulling a post about that.

  3. Jackie...I so much prefer them to shut down when they are confused compared to the other option! I've ridden horses that go the opposite route: Explosive and angry when they get confused. I'd so much rather ride a horse that says "Hmmm...I'm just going to stand here and give you the evil eye until YOU figure out how to talk to me properly." Our ponying session went very, very well, but I still may have to resort to someone on the ground with the whip once we take the second horse away.

    Leah...they can be brats, can't they? The ones that constantly test you, I've found to have the most personality and intelligence. Those who go with the flow without question tend to be a bit more on the "dull" side, in my opinion.