Thursday, May 13, 2010

Maybe tomorrow

I will visit my boy again. This time, I intend to take a tape measure, and get a full account of measures, including from ground to withers for his height, from the middle of his chest around to his tail for a prospective future rug, and the measurement around the widest part of the cannon bone for and estimate of the amount of bone mass he has.

There are supposed to be some storms in the morning, so all outside work is out of the questions unless it has dried up by then enough to work in the round pen. I will, again, be working with halt-to-walk-to-halt transitions and directional work around cones. I want to also work on backing up and if I have time and he has the energy, some side-pass and leg pressure exercises.

He is such a bright horse, it prides me to see him pick up lessons and learn them well very fast.

I know a lot of people would not agree with the way I'm starting him under saddle, in fact, some would probably hop on and have him trained in rudimentary walk, trot, canter, left, right, go, stop, halt. But I don't want to ask him to go faster when I don't feel that I have developed in him the urge to stop when I say stop or go left when I say go left. After all, -they- may be able to sit through his bucking and/or unsteady motion, but just because I rode through that last buck doesn't mean I can do it again. He was like a tensed spring during the first ride, and I knew that if I were to let the reins looser and give him a nudge, he'd be off in a flash and I would be little more than a passenger with no control. Second ride was much smoother, he was even standing with one leg cocked and eyes closed while I sat on him, having a conversation with the barn owner.

The reason I'm training him this way is that I want to be absolutely sure that when I start to ask him to pick up the pace, he is going to yield to my hands, voice, legs, and weight. It may not be the conventional way to have a horse trained nearly perfectly at a walk before asking for a trot, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. By working him at a walk, he becomes accustomed to feeling me and listening to me while his mind is not occupied with things like moving faster and watching where he is going. This way, responses become ingrained and he will begin to follow them automatically. When I start asking for a trot, it will be no more than a few paces before I ask for a walk, and if he decides he wants to keep trotting, I will turn him into a one rein stop.

This speed control will insure that when I ask for him to trot for longer amounts of time, I will have the control to stop and turn him as I please, and this will work the same for canter.

He's a good horse, I just want us to both get through the training process hail and whole, by ourselves, or at least with as little outside influence as possible.

I've always been told I will never be able to train him. People put me down and put me down and tell me to get a trainer, and I always refused. Here is proof that I can do it. I have a wonderful, usually calm horse who stands still and calm to be groomed and saddle and just as calm for me to mount up. I have a horse who starts walking with a squeeze of my calves and steps away from the fence with a nudge. I have a horse who walks, trots, canters, 'woahs,' and 'easys,' on the lunge with just a word from me (and an occasional tap of the whip on the ground if he forgets) and a horse who backs up when I give the vocal command or at a touch of my hand on his nose, neck, or chest.

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