Friday, July 17, 2009

Figuring him out

I tried a new tact to conquer the spooky end of the arena last night.

Longing first! I tacked up and took that big booger to the arena and made him work on the longe line in the scary end of the arena. He did a little big of spooking and snorting and trying to bolt, but much less than he did the other night. I think I ended up longing him for about 15 minutes before he worked all the snort-n-scoots out and settled down enough to put his mind to work. We worked over trot cavalletti and a 12-inch log just to get his mind thinking about something other than the woods. We did spirals in and out, direction changes and pace changes on the longe and once I got his brain engaged and thinking about work and not boogeymen, he was good.

I don't want to have to longe him before I ride EVERY time, that would be horrible, but I will definitely do it from time to time. I may even longe him before riding for a week or so and taper off to every other ride, or every third ride, just to keep him on his toes.

I got up and we had a pretty good session. One half-hearted snort-n-scoot at the scary side, and that was it.

We worked on walk/trot, trot/walk/halt transitions. I hope, hope, hope I don't ruin his upward transition because it's pretty darn near exactly what it should be. He really lifts himself up into the trot, I can see and feel his entire front end lift up and launch into a really powerful, forward trot. Yes, he's still unbalanced and no, he's definitely NOT on the bit, but that all comes with time and muscling.

Downward transitions from trot to walk is eh. We dribble down and sometimes he fights it a bit, tossing his head and grumbling about it and falling on his forehand BIG TIME. But, step by step, right? Our transition from walk to halt is dead on. The transition from trot to walk is getting there. I do believe most of his resistance is my fault though. Because he does have such a HUGE, powerful trot I'm finding it physically difficult to give him the proper cue and slow him down with my body and abs while keeping my butt IN the saddle during the downward transition. More Pilates and weight lifting for me! I think that as I fix ME, he will find it easier to hear and understand me and will be able to respond better to that particular request.

His steering is still sticky but improving. At one point, while we were trotting and working on getting a downward transition on a circle, he decided he was going to toss his head a bit and throw a bit of tantrum while ignoring me...and he just about ran into a danged tree because he wasn't looking where he was going. And I just about let him just so he could knock some sense into his silly self. That tree came up FAST and he spotted it and decided to stop tossing and LISTEN to me instead of smacking his head into it. The beast!


  1. Oh wow, you could be describing a ride on my Ladde to a T. Gabe and Ladde are so very similar, it just amazes me listening to you because you are very good at describing exactly what I feel when riding the big guy. I need to become more educated regarding the transitions and giving cues with my butt and so forth (big time), but I'd love to take some lessons with a good teacher/trainer who could school us both. I know in my heart and mind that he could be a dressage horse extraordinaire!!! Unfortunately, I have zero experience in anything but western riding!! We are quite the team, but Ladde could go so very far with the right rider. On our last trail ride, my hubby rode the Laddster and I rode Harley. Harley is somewhat cautious about steep downhills, especially with creeks at the bottom, and has to be coached into going, whereas Ladde is all about the...get outa my way and let's just do this thing!! His problem is, his rider is always telling him to just slow down big guy...take a chill pill and be careful!! They are so very different it still amazes me. I love reading about your adventures with Gabe. He's going to be awesome with all your patient teaching. Good job you two!!

  2. Yep, I could copy and paste this into my own blog.

    It's always good to know there are others dealing with the same things I am... it allows me to have more patience! Heck, my horse is not... ehm... 'impaired' sometimes- he's just a baby TB!

    I also have learned not to get mad at the spooking thing. We calmly work past it again and again until it's not a big deal, or if it's a horse-eating rock on the trail we take the time to check it out until we're comfortable enough to touch it with our nose.

  3. NICE!It sounds very good Jenn! He is funny that one..but so smart. I love the description of the upwards transitions! Can't wait for canter.

    Wa, I am finding, does fresh behaviour in the first 15-20 minutes..I can't believe it takes that long to warm up! I wish it were 10 minutes. Even on the lunge line, she can pitch a fit..I think she is an adreniline junky!

  4. WOW.. i thought I wrote that post :) For awhile i had to do the lunging thing lots with gazi and i have a trainer /friend (actually we're riding tomorrow) who said.. you want to get away from lunging...

    I have... I still do but sometimes i'll also do the flag waving to get him his spooks out... I think it's a matter of what they need that day (?)

    sigh a work in progress huh? :)

  5. Hullo there..wondering how the summer is for you now?
    Miss ya!

  6. I like your descriptive wording.."big booger".."snorts-n-scoots". My mare has been quite spooky. It's taken a lot of ground work and small, detailed exercises to get her focused on me and not on the bazillion things all around that could eat her at any moment. Sounds like your transition work is coming along nicely.