Saturday, November 15, 2008

MiKael Meets Richard......Getting Started.....Louie

Part 1

It was Oct 7 when we actually started Louie. I have to say looking back at that time, I wonder what the heck we were thinking. That was the week of the Pacific Rim All Arabian Horse Show and here we were cramming in starting two Arabian geldings.......nothing like adding a bunch of stress to an already hectic schedule.

But it is, what it is and that's exactly what we did. Louie was the next candidate to get started under saddle and to Richard that day was just as good as any other. He was up for the challenge.

Actually, to be honest I think the challenge is what has Richard hooked. I think there's nothing more that the man loves than the task of figuring out how to communicate with a horse. The idea of starting off with a clean slate to mold and shape the way he wants gets his juices flowing. And certainly there's nothing more unpredictable than starting a young horse. That unpredictability is part of what Richard craves.

While the horse came off the trailer snorting and blowing at these new surroundings, I think it was more about being playful than anything.

Jessica took the horse into the barn and saddled him up in the cross ties. His earlier experiences being saddled by me seemed to carry over just fine. He showed no signs of discomfort when she started so she went ahead and completed the task the way Richard had shown her to approach a young green horse.

Then the Arabian horse walked with Jessica out of the barn and down the hill to the arena like he'd done it a hundred times before. I think the Arabian horse actually entered the arena inquisitively. I could see the horse's wheels turning as he took in these new surroundings and new people.

First off Richard fitted the side pull and worked some with the horse giving to this new type of pressure, dropping his head and giving to each side. From there he checked out his longeing skills and response to Richard's cues with an emphasis on whoa. All of those things seemed to go quite easily and before you know it, Richard was working on desensitizing the horse, rapping the saddle and all around with the lead rope.

Louie pretty much stood there for all of this. There were a few flinches and some random steps but mostly he took it in stride. The only thing that seemed to bother the horse was the stirrups flapping against his sides.

I figure that was because this was his first time wearing a full size saddle. The one I had used to desensitize him was a smaller children's saddle with the stirrups hitting him in a much higher place. These stirrups now dangling close to his belly were a different story. The horse wasn't completely sure what to think about that.

To deal with this discomfort Richard worked on getting the horse to submit. Just like he had done with Tag he asked the horse to drop his head while lifting his front leg asking the horse to give his shoulder. After repeating this several times successfully, Richard went ahead adding the "dead weight."

First off Jessica just put her foot into the stirrup watching for the horse's reaction repeating the exercise on both sides. As the horse's comfort increased, Jessica began adding weight to the stirrup with little bounces gradually increasing in length. It didn't take long at all and she was laying over the saddle.

The horse was led around the entire arena with Jessica draped over the saddle. Richard was hanging onto her belt just in case she might need to be rescued. Louie was a star and took it in stride. His eye stayed soft and willing..........but then he was getting lots of verbal encouragement and praise. Something this horse lives for.

Richard and Jessica proceeded going around the arena, working on whoa and mounting and dismounting and then more moving off. As it became clear the horse was totally comfortable with this they took the next step.
The lead rope was replaced with a longe line and next thing you know Louie was about 25 feet away from Richard with Jessica on his back just walking around like it was old hat. From there they progressed to the trot with Richard controlling the cues from the ground. Jessica's job was just to sit in the middle of the saddle and not get in the horse's way as he figured out what Richard was asking.

There were a few minor reactions along the way. Little attempts to move away immediately stopped by Richard's voice. The horse was definitely listening and trying very hard to do what he was asked. Before the session was over, Richard even asked for the canter. Other than a sudden burst forward to get into the gait, it was as uneventful as all the rest. Louie just took each new thing thrown his way in stride.

When the session was over, Richard dropped the longe line and walked away with Louie following. It was certainly clear to Louie who was running this show.

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

Now What

and then there's Percy

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  1. Awesome post, I wish I could pocess this skill, I mean skill. Awesome!

  2. Hi MiKael
    It has been great catching up on your blog posts and I am so glad that you have found someone as passionate about horses as you are, I wish I could find someone like that here who thinks along the same lines as I do. I think that is what gets me the most these days is I hate being out there on my own so I just dont go. I have 7 horses that need starting or have been started with just the very basics.

    Looking forward to more on this story. If you havent visited my blog pleae do and tell me what you thin about my last 3 or 4 posts and if you think it is worth opening up this can of worms or not. I value your opinion.

  3. Louie sounds like one very smart and sensible horse. His training session sounds wonderful, and just so easy and calm for this horse. I'm sure his progression will be quick and uneventful.