Sunday, May 5, 2013
I have to warn you this post is looooong and wordy with no pictures, but there is a question at the bottom so I hope you'll read it. :)
Chrome got a whole week off. I haven't ridden him since last Sunday. Oops. The weather has been horrible and I haven't felt well. Oh well. Today after working on putting up insulation in our house most of the day, my dad asked if I would ride the four wheeler because it's been sitting too long and didn't want to start.... of course I said yes! So I rode the four wheeler around the pasture and had soooo much fun! After riding the four wheeler I looked at Chrome and thought about walking around for twenty minutes bored out of my mind.... definitely not as exciting as zipping around at top speed on the four wheeler lol. So I had a brilliant idea! Ride with the clicker! Using the clicker would make walking around a lot more interesting. :D
Yesterday my husband was working on our truck (changing the fuel pump) and he was using an air impact to loosen some bolts. Chrome has been around an air compressor before, but he was a little jumpy (the day before a neighbor's horses were loose galloping around and got my horses stirred up, which is actually why I didn't ride that day) and he associated the scary noises with the truck, so today he was eyeballing the truck like there were monsters hiding in it. So since I've noticed his confidence is lacking a bit when I'm on his back I decided to use the clicker to teach him how to approach things without me being in the lead.
I got on Chrome and clicked him for walking toward the truck. At one point Chrome walked between the truck and a tree, but got too close and smashed my leg into the tree. It just scraped my shin a little, so I stayed on. After walking him around the truck I decided to work on teaching him to back up since we haven't worked on it before with me on his back and I have been in situations where I needed him to back up to get turned around.
First we had to work on standing still because he's gotten to where he likes to walk off before I ask (while mounting too so I really need to work on it! In fact on my first attempt to get on him today I was using something too low and he walked off and I slipped off. I landed on my feet so it wasn't a big deal, but it's not a good habit at all. We will be working on it more!). Then I asked him to back up. I'm very proud of him because he dropped his head and backed off of medium to light pressure instead of throwing his head in the air like he sometimes does when I ask on the ground (or ignoring the reins completely like when I was first teaching him to halt-we've come a long way!). I've never really taught him to yield vertically to the reins so I was happy that he seemed to make that connection. He was still backing crooked sometimes, but we will get there.
After that I worked on asking him to yield his haunches. That was a lot harder than I thought!! I never even realized that he was moving his shoulders while turning this whole time instead of his haunches, so that's cool! Normally it's easier to move the haunches. After a couple of tries I finally got him to step under with his right hind and clicked. I only asked him to do it a few times and then called it good since his stifles are still locking occasionally. I didn't want to overdo it. I'll work on the other side next time since his left side is the one that locks. I'm going to have to be patient teaching him to yield all of his body parts separately, but it will definitely make our rides more interesting. I might enlist the help of my husband on the ground because it would be easier if he gave the cue Chrome is used to on the ground while I give the leg/rein aid.
Finally I decided to ride him around some at the walk since we hadn't really moved out during the ride. We walked up and down the driveway and then I had him trot up the driveway. As soon he started trotting my treat pouch started bouncing. The noise caused him to pop his head up and drop back down to a walk. I tried again and had the same result. So the next time I held the treat pouch still and he trotted half the length of the driveway (it's long) before I clicked him. As soon as I started clicking him for trotting that's all he wanted to do lol, but he listened and walked and stopped when I asked without fighting me. :) He loves to go fast. I let him trot back up the driveway and he started getting really floaty (I was bareback by the way) and it felt like he could break into the canter at any second so I clicked him lol. The cool part is that I felt really comfortable and relaxed on him, even bareback. I love trotting him!! I can't wait to canter. :) I think it was the third trot where I finally let go of the treat pouch and let it bounce. He hesitated, but with a cluck I kept him going. It was like a really big, exaggerated half halt. Pretty cool actually. :)
After trotting around I walked by the truck and he was back to eyeballing it again. I finally pinpointed it to the tail gate leaning up against a tree. It was squeaking when the wind blew (did I mention it was very windy today?). So I worked on asking him to approach it. I found his limit (about three feet away) and let him stand there. When I asked him to go closer he tried to spin away from it, so I made him face it and stand there. Each time he took a step forward he got clicked. I finally got him standing with his nose an inch from it, but I'm not sure if he touched it or not. I couldn't really see. He did lower his head and blow out, so he was definitely more relaxed than when we started. I look forward to finding other scary things to work on. I want him trusting me from his back before we go out on a lot of trail rides. :)
Last I worked on standing still again. I would ask him to whoa and then just sit there and click him if he didn't move. If he moved I would ask him to whoa again. I will work on making it longer and longer with time. I think he needs to stand tied for an hour or two to remind him to be patient. I've been slacking on the ground work because he's such a laid back horse. It won't take much to remind him though. I showed my husband, mom and dad how well Chrome was backing up in his first session and then trotted him out to the pasture to put him up. The ride was twenty five minutes. I'm going to slowly increase the amount of trotting we do. Once we can trot for a minute or two I'll start doing the Couch to 5k again.
I have one question (sorry this post is so loooong and wordy). If the Aussie saddle is slightly too wide can I put two saddle pads under it? It's built like an english saddle underneath and if I remember correctly doubling up pads isn't a good idea with an english saddle? Or maybe I'm remembering wrong? I'm going to need a saddle if I'm going to start doing more trotting. It seems to fit pretty well but it feels like it tips forward a bit when I'm riding so I think it's too wide. It's not sitting on his withers though so it's not wide by much at all.... I'll take some pictures sometime soon and see what you guys think. I need to ride him on a hot day (if it ever warms up) and see how his sweat marks look. So far he's only sweated under the girth lol. Anyway sorry this post is so long! I'm planning to work on some ground work tomorrow so I'll post again (and try to get pictures and/or video). Later!