Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Really?! REALLY?!

Gabe is a dork. Sometimes he just gets things into his head and no matter how much convincing, enticing, cajoling or begging I do, he just doesn't want to do it.

He has decided the trailer is a Very Scary Place and one that he should avoid at all costs. Which involved trying to run me over in the process of getting away from the Very Scary Place.

Ugh. This is the third time he's been a moron about loading. This has never been an issue before, and I KNOW the goof knows how to get on and off a trailer. But he's decided he doesn't really want to.

Over the weekend we worked for about 45 mins. on just getting on nicely and standing there quietly. It took me a good half hour on the front end of the training just to get him to get CLOSE to the trailer without losing his ever-lovin' mind and flying backwards across the yard.

Lots and lots and lots of strongly encouraged forward circles when he decided to fly backwards. It took a bit, but he finally figured out that going forward is MUCH more comfortable than going backwards, and getting on the trailer is MUCH MUCH more comfortable than endless go-forward circles in the yard.

Then he'd get on and decide it was still a Very Bad Place to be and go flying off the trailer backwards, the whites of his eyes showing panic.

*sigh* and *double sigh*

Oh, this horse. He's one of the special ones. Window-licking, helmet-wearing kind of special.

He finally figured it out and I was able to get him on and off five times, all nice and quiet and no panicking involved. He stood on the trailer, even cocked a leg at one point and relaxed, licked his lips, half-lidded his eyes then backed off very slowly and very quietly when asked, but not before.

Went for a ride, had an EXCELLENT ride, then loaded him up one more time after the ride just to make sure his little Thoroughbred brain hadn't lost the lesson in the half an hour we were riding.

He didn't. The trailer didn't even get an Oh-my-God! ear flick...up he walked, quietly he stood, peppermints he gobbled and quietly he backed off again.

Success. It comes in little doses, but each little step forward is a HUGE accomplishment for ole Gabe. The goof.

Next step: Closing the rear gate.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Riding at dusk

As the shorter days of fall and winter descend upon us I am trying to fit in as much riding time as is humanly possible. I love the weather this time of year, I just wish the daylight hours in the day would remain the same instead of shrinking!

All too soon it will be too dark to ride except on weekends. I was hoping to have a couple of lights up around my arena by this time, but that just hasn't happened. Hay is a priority and with it not exactly bursting from anyone's barn this year, it's a pricey priority and arena lights are on the back burner for the foreseeable future.

Kayleigh and I went for a ride last night and rode until the waning daylight made it impossible to see anything. She rode bareback and Chief was a champ.

I popped Gabe over a few small cross-rails before it became too dark to do it safely and he seemed to love it. His ears prick forward eagerly, his body compresses and his stride animates when I turn him towards the line and he realizes we are going to go over it, not around it. My goal this month: Get my jump standards and a couple of gates, brush boxes and coops built. I'm pretty sure I have enough extra lumber just laying around the property to build a few jumps without having to buy a thing. I'm excited to get an actual course up and I think he will be too.

I've been riding him in a running martingale for about a year because he had a nasty habit of tossing his head high enough to crack me in the face when he was up and feeling his oats. Last night, I didn't put it on. He tossed his head a couple of times and squealed in his girly way at the beginning of the ride, which is typical for him, then settled into the work with no major head tossing issues. Wonderful boy! I don't think I'll need to put it back on for arena work any more, galloping and full course jumping maybe, but I'll cross that bridge when we get there.

I have definitely noticed how all my hard work out of the saddle has affected my time in the saddle. I've lost 40 pounds and gained strength. I'm jogging about 3 miles 5-6 days a week and lifting weights. I don't have the six pack yet, right now I'm just pleased to be able to see a two pack! I feel wonderful and feel so solid, balanced and strong in the saddle. Gabe has definitely noticed too, not just the weight loss, but the ability to better balance and control my own body seems to give him confidence. Being in control of ME gives him the chance to balance himself and not have to worry about me throwing him off.

I have many more pounds and miles to go, but I'm on a roll and I don't intend on stopping any time soon. My goal? Not only feel good and confident in the saddle, but look damn good in a pair of white breeches! Ha! And find that six pack that's hidden under there somewhere.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Going somewhere? Not any time soon, apparently

Oh, we have a problem. It's one of those fun problems all horse owners LOVE to deal with and figure out how to solve.

Gabe has decided he doesn't like to get on the horse trailer. Period. He has always jumped right up and I know he had plenty of trailering experience while he raced, so this decision of his boggles me.

Saturday one of my riding buddies came over to pick us up so we could haul to a park to ride. Gabe has not had an issue with her trailer in the past and really seems to like her mare.

But this time, he took one look at that trailer and one look at the cute palomino mare waiting for him inside and pretty much said "Nope. Not today. I've better things to do."

Gah. I don't have a whole lot of patience for horses I KNOW know how to load and then simply decide they don't want to today. He and I apparently can both be pretty stubborn in out decisions. I don't believe in beating them until they decide to get on, but I can get exasperated and all him ugly names and tell him how dumb he is.

It took 15 minutes to convince him to get on the trailer to haul out and all it took was me slowing down and giving him some time to think it over instead of continuously walking him back up to the trailer and trying to convince him to put his feet on it over and over and over again.

All he wanted to do was stand there and think about it for awhile. Bribery didn't hurt.

He got on, we went on a wonderful, beautiful, fall colors gorgeous trail ride in which he behaved brilliantly.

Until it was time to get BACK on the trailer.

Yeah. Nope.

It took us even longer this time. He'd get three feet on and stand there all stretched out reaching for the grain I had in my hand. And just stand there. And stand. Then take a calm step backward when he changed his mind about it. Grrrr....patience was wearing thin but I wasn't going to beat him onto the trailer. That solves nothing and make the next time even worse.

So we waiting. And we waited. And I cajoled and bribed and called him horrible names and threatened to leave him in the woods all alone without dinner or peppermints.

Eventually, he sighed, and stepped all the way on the trailer. I guess he'd had enough.

So, guess what I'll be working on as much as possible?

Yeah. That trailer loading thing. Seems someone needs a reminder seminar.