Thursday, March 4, 2010

Looking Back................ Aidol and the Gate



Part 1

Aidol took to schooling trail obstacles exactly like I'd thought. The Arabian horse wasn't sure what to think of these new challenges at first but he caught on quickly. In a short time he was going over poles like he'd been doing it all his life instead of snorting and going sideways which had been his first response.

Aidol was learning to trust I'd take care of him if things weren't what he expected. It was time to add more difficult obstacles but before I could do that he had to learn a couple of things.

The horse had just been trained to go around in circles and, of course, he knew how to back up. He really knew nothing about side passing or turns on the forehand or haunches so we worked on those things in between working on going over poles.

Aidol was a quick study so before long he was side passing over poles and doing that L back through I'd built.Once the horse had learned these things it was time to move on to the gate.

Most trail courses have a gate and it probably looks boring to watch a horse and rider maneuver such an obstacle, but there's a fine art to negotiating a gate in a "pretty" fashion. I'd learned from LaRae Fletcher-Powell of Silver Aspen Ranch how a gate is done can set the tone for an entire class.

Before I tell about my experience with Aidol and that gate, it would probably be good to describe this gate. It was the typical type design for a trail class. A free standing thing,Dave built it from a pattern I gotten from my friend, Naomi. It was constructed of wood right down to the latch.

The mechanism for the closure was within the gate portion of the thing. That meant there were small gaps between the layers it took for that lever to slide back and forth easily to open and close the gate.

Aidol had seen that gate plenty of times. It was "stored" in the pasture used for his turn out but "seeing" and doing with a rider on his back just wasn't the same thing to the horse. When I asked Aidol to line up parallel to the gate so we could side pass into position to open the thing, the horse had no clue why or what I was asking.

It was clear in the horse's mind the way to approach that gate was to walk straight up to it facing it. He had no concept of opening it or going through it. The gate was just something to mess with or lean on. Every time I tried to get him in that parallel position the horse swung his hip or stepped out with a shoulder trying to do it his way.

It took a while to get Aidol convinced that doing it my way was the rule of the day. The horse didn't get sweaty but he was clearly frustrated at not being able to control the situation. Once we were lined up the way I wanted I just let him stand there to relax for a while before I asked him to get closer to that gate.

I'd learned from LaRae the most important thing in training a trail horse is taking those long breaks. Letting the horse relax and stop thinking about what is coming next can keep the horse from turning into one of those trail horses that goes on auto pilot and blows the class. It also teaches the horse to go slowly, listen and not rush obstacles.

Standing there that day parallel to the gate was really helpful for Aidol. We stood there long enough he got comfortable with seeing the gate from this new position. By the time I asked the horse to side pass a step or two over to the gate, he was no longer thinking about swinging his body around to face the thing.

His side pass was a little rough, more a front and back thing than a true side pass but the horse at least understood his position next to the gate. When I requested the next sideways step the horse took too big a step pushing me into the gate.

Somehow the toe of my boot found one of those small gaps in the gate. The leather of my boot grabbing the wood make kind of a screeching sound that spooked my horse. Aidol leapt forward but to his credit he stopped after only one step. That, however, was not enough to save me. The gate had grabbed my toe.

When the horse jumped forward my stuck foot caused me to be stripped out of the saddle on my left side. Straddling the cantle the gate suddenly released my toe. My foot flew back towards the horse like it was spring loaded and squarely whamped my horse on the side. Aidol took off as I fell head over heals behind him.

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

Getting Help




Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog Here They are now measuring the rankings by the number of votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY

6 comments:

  1. thanks for telling us these backstories. i love them!

    ~lytha

    ReplyDelete
  2. Eeee!!!

    You always leave me jumping up and down waiting to see what's next! Drives me crazy and I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. >>I'd learned from LaRae the most important thing in training a trail horse is taking those long breaks. Letting the horse relax and stop thinking about what is coming next can keep the horse from turning into one of those trail horses that goes on auto pilot and blows the class. It also teaches the horse to go slowly, listen and not rush obstacles.<<

    That right there is the biggest reason we see so many horses blow through the trail class, and exactly the reson they do not place well. Seen the same thing in classes where a pattern is asked for.

    Riders and handlers 'overpattern' the horse, rather than teach the horse the basic steps of the pattern and perfect each one as they go. Day of the show it's just a matter of which order each element is asked for.

    ReplyDelete
  4. jennybean, oh yesss!!!!!!!!

    lytha, I'm glad I don't have too many like this one but I do have more backstories coming so stay tuned.

    Story, LOL! I guess that means I should be glad I'm driving you crazy.

    Cut-N-Jump, yep, we totally agree on that. A robotic horse on auto pilot does not show good training, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, those darn gates! Had a bad experience with one myself. Dang nearly broke my leg.

    ReplyDelete