Friday, May 13, 2011

Second year: Wet blankets and long miles

After a long, snowy winter off, the horses are getting ready to go back into work (or I am at least!).  Over the course of the last month, I've been reviewing all the 'compulsory' exercises with Stevie.  I'm basically going over everything she learned last year, and making sure she willingly responds.  The tasks I'm looking for near-perfection in are:

  1. Moving forward at all three gaits
  2. Disengaging the Hindquarters both from a stand still and from all three gaits (with the inside leg crossing OVER the outside)
  3. Yielding the shoulders in either direction (with the outside leg crossing OVER the inside)
  4. Sacking out
  5. Softness in flexions with the bridle and hackamore
I mix these tasks up as much as possible; I never want the horse to get bored with what we are doing.  For example; when asking her to go forward, I have many options:

  1. Simple circling on the ground
  2. Moving forward undersaddle
  3. Figure eights on the ground by disengaging the hindquarters
  4. Figure eights on the ground by drawing and yielding the shoulders
  5. Moving forward over obstacles (jumps, tarps, logs, etc)
  6. Getting out of the arena, moving forward up and down hills, etc
The foundation is going to be key to the next step in this filly's education.  Over the course of this year, I'm going to be looking to develop five key elements that I feel EVERY horse should be proficient in.  They are very simple concepts, but judging by the issues so many horses I work with have, they are very often overlooked as well.

  1. Manners:  This is a biggie.  Way too many horses out they are pushy and disrespectful.  They crowd you on the ground, they nip, they paw, they lag behind you or drag you around.  Horses are way too big and powerful an animal to not have good manners. 
  2. Softness:  I want to be able to lightly pick up a rein and have my horse yield to me.  I want to be able to lay my leg on the horse's side and have him step away.  I don't want to break into a sweat riding a circle!
  3. Cadence:  I should be able to put my horse into any gait and have him stay there without me constantly nagging him to go, or pleading with him to slow down.  Let's give our horses' some responsibility!
  4. Confidence: I want a horse that isn't going to jump out of his skin when the wind blows.  I want to be able to take my horse out on the trail without her spooking every ten feet.  I grew up with arabians and used that as an excuse for spooky nonsense far too long; even the hottest horse can learn to control themselves.
  5. Strength:  The horse needs to have enough physical strength and stamina to perform.  Strong horses are also less likely to get hurt than their pudgy counterparts.  
So that's the plan for this year; I'll be posting as often as I can (several times a week at least!), and aim to make some real progress.

Please use caution and common sense.  Horses are large animals, with an exceptional amount of power and strength.  They are also concerned above all with their own personal safety, and will do whatever they feel it takes to keep themselves from harm.  Being individuals that act and react differently, the only certainty you have when working a horse is uncertainty.  I am a professional trainer with twenty plus years experience, yet even with the knowledge I possess, I still get hurt from time to time.  This blog and the accompanying media are for entertainment purposes only.  No responsibility will be assumed for injuries or damages incurred while trying to use these methods at home.  Please ride responsibly; protective gear can save your life!

No comments:

Post a Comment