Tuesday, November 25, 2008

MiKael Meets Richard........... Getting Started......and then there's Percy.... Day 2

Part 1

I wish I could say after this experience that Percy was a totally different horse. I guess in a way the horse was different. He had been rattled by the day's happenings and that affected him dramatically. However, the horse wasn't different as in having some kind of epiphany about this whole riding thing. The horse still had no clue what was being expected of him.

The one thing that was different was Percy had now decided that maybe Richard could be trusted. In the horse's little pea sized brain he had added the man to the small ranks of humans he could look to away from home. The key words here are "away from home."

At home Percy is a totally different horse. When strangers come the horse thinks that's pretty darn cool. He comes to the front of his stall begging for attention or if outside, runs up to the gate to not be overlooked. He's learned over the years that strangers mean lots of attention. There's nothing this horse likes more than being talked to and stroked.

The horse had handled just fine being in a strange place with people he knew. It was the whole thing of taking the horse outside his comfort zone to a strange place with strange people that had pushed Percy over the edge. It was just too much stimulation for the young horse to process so instead he'd gone into total defense mode.

To me, at least, it was clear that the first thing on the agenda needed to be building a solid foundation of trust with anyone who might be dealing with the horse. In my book that meant going back to square one and moving slowly..........very slowly. Trust building would need to be the priority. Once that was accomplished I expected Percy to fall right in with the same work ethic as the other horses.

The first thing I did when I got to the barn that following day was share my thoughts with Richard. He had been concerned with how I might have perceived the day before because I hadn't said much (typical for me when I am processing.) The man had spent some time running things over in his head and he'd pretty much come to the same conclusions about Percy as me.

With the two of us in agreement it was time for Percy to go back into the arena. It was clear right off that the horse was pretty comfortable with his new opinion of Richard. He didn't show any sign of concern when Richard took the lead.

From there Richard went back over the cues they'd worked on the day before. They worked on the horse giving to pressure, moving away when asked, whoa, and wearing the saddle. The horse seemed to be fine with all of those things as long as Richard took his time and gave the horse plenty of opportunity to process the new stimulation......whatever it might be.

If I remember correctly, even in these very first days there were problems with the horse on the longe line. Despite the fact I had taught the horse to free longe in a round pen, none of those basics seemed to have carried over when the longe line was added to the mix.

My granddaughter, Rachel, had been longeing the horse at the boarding barn. She hadn't mentioned having problems but from the looks of it, the horse had taken full advantage of her.

Now in the arena with Richard, Percy clearly wanted to be in charge and run around in whatever manner he saw fit. Richard on the other hand had much more control in mind. He thought the horse should go slow at whatever gait he himself chose and in the direction of his chosing. The horse acted confused at any and all of Richard's attempts. The longeing was NOT pretty.

Percy would move off hell bent. When Richard would try to slow the horse down, Percy would quickly turn towards the man and promptly spin off into the other direction at his break neck pace..............or stop and refuse to move.

At this early stage of the "breaking game" I think Richard chalked this all up to inexperience. He worked through what he thought was a reasonable amount for the horse and then moved on to the saddling.

Richard took his time letting the horse sniff the pad and rubbing it on his shoulders and such before the thing ever hit Percy's back. The horse stood pretty firmly as if it was no big deal so the next thing to come was the saddle. Again, the horse seemed ok with this added piece of equipment........although he wasn't particularly fond of the fenders and stirrups flopping against his sides.

Richard spend a considerable amount of time slapping a short rope against the saddle getting the horse used to the sound of slapping leather. He also worked that rope around the horse's neck, shoulders, croup and legs. When the horse reached the point his eye had softened and his head dropped down low, the session was ended for the day.

I think the horse left the arena wondering........ I could see his little wheels turning and the question mark on his face. Nothing had happened that particularly worried this horse and he didn't know quite what to think.

To be continued................

Day 3

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  1. It is great to know the trainer quit while the horse was still "wondering." Lets them process everything so much better and they come back into the arena curious about what is next.

  2. Just want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Day Mikael! As always I enjoy your stories from the stable!!

  3. I'm looking forward to more stories on Percy's training. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving Day.

  4. Happy T'giving MiKael. I wish the best for you and yours...and all the horses too. Percy sounds like my kind of horse. I love me a challenge, especially when they arrive with a brain in place to mess with.