Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Ride

Part 1

When I took the Arabian horse up to my improvised mounting block that also doubles as a picnic table, Storm didn't want to go near the thing. Of course, at first it was because he hadn't been near it before but once we worked through that, the horse would still move the minute I stepped up and onto the bench.

Knowing that at this point the horse was trying to avoid me mounting so he didn't have to give up control, I thumped him firmly on the off side moving him back toward the table. Storm shook his head at me and went backwards. At least he didn't try to run through me to avoid lining up with the table so I figured I was gaining ground. Still I spent a good five minutes convincing the horse that he must stand for me to mount but when he did finally stand, he didn't try to walk off once I threw my foot over the saddle. I thought that was a good sign.

I fiddled with the off side stirrup trying to find the place for my foot and Storm continued to stand quietly. He was carefully watching Suede playing in the front paddock but showed no sign of approaching the horse without instruction from me. That was certainly better than I expected

I decided once I was situated in the saddle I was going to work on getting better control of my horse's feet. There were two large puddles in one part of the driveway that would work really well for this. Getting Storm to walk through the water would be a good way to teach the horse to respect my cues.

Growing up on this farm, Storm has been exposed to lots of water. With the creek running all the way across the back of my property, the horses are used to crossing water and even play in the creek. However, Storm hasn't been exposed to the creek since his return and I figured like everything else, he'd need some refresher to deal with water in any form.

Just as I expected when I moved Storm toward the puddles the horse put on the brakes as soon as he realized that's where we were headed. While the horse didn't want to go through the water, he didn't do anything really naughty to avoid it either. There were no signs he might buck or run off, he just tried to avoid the water by going sideways or even backwards.

Both puddles were fairly large so it was easy to "trick" the horse into stepping into them. Pulling the horse around and seemingly away from the puddle followed by a release with a shift of my weight made it easy to throw the horse off balance towards the water. A couple of times of accidentally stepping in or near the water opened the door to calming the horse's fear.

The amount of time it took to get Storm through this water was reasonable for a horse that had never been ridden through water before this. Storm did some snorting and seeing the ripples formed from that spooked him a bit but still nothing huge. Storm was thinking and he was trying and I was happy with that.

Once we'd mastered those puddles we moved on down the lane. up by the barn was another puddle. This one was on a little different terrain so I expected to horse would think it was something foreign and refuse to go through it so I'd have another opportunity to show the horse he must listen to me.

This puddle was smaller than the others had been which made it more difficult to "trick" the horse into putting a foot in it. Pulling the horse around moved him away from the puddle so those accidental steps on the edges were more difficult to line up.

For some reason Storm was more concerned about this smaller puddle than he had been by the bigger ones. The horse would back away towards the barn, and Sugar, who was chained there or he was backing into the hay barn to the area where Lilly was stalled.

Neither of these situations were good. I didn't want Sugar to scare Storm and I didn't want Storm to think he could visit with Lilly either considering his behavior around the mares previously. Of course because I wasn't comfortable with either of these scenarios, that's where the horse wanted to go and once the horse backed up into either location he refused to move.

I think of all evasions a horse can pull, I hate getting the reverse direction from a horse that is asked to go forward so I was frustrated by Storm in this situating. Maybe it's John Lyons ringing in my head, "You can't train a horse that won't move." or maybe it was just the situation with Sugar and Lilly that I decided to up the pressure I was putting on Storm.

First I used my spurs to try and encourage Storm to move. When that didn't work, I used the bat hoping the horse wouldn't buck. Not only did Storm not buck, he didn't move either so I upped the anti and slapped him with the ends of my reins. Storm moved this time but he bucked so I pulled him into a circle and poked him with my spurs while firmly scolding him. Storm took the discipline OK so we were back to dancing around the puddle again.

Before long we ended up backing towards Lilly again. Once again I had to resort to slapping the horse with the reins to get him to move. This time I got a smaller buck from the rein slap and when I corrected that behavior again, the horse seemed to actually relax a little. It was long after that and the horse was going through the puddle so we were onto working on riding up and down the lane.

After the work on both puddles, the work up and down the lane was uneventful. The horse seemed to be listening well and trying hard. I couldn't ask for much more than that. The horse was showing some signs of sweat so I decided to call the lesson good and we ended there. As far as I was concerned we'd made some good strides with the horse's resistive behavior.

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

The Next Ride

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  1. I hate evasive backing .I have had one go over on me (and trust me I DID not pull him over ,rather threw the reins at him) A deal breaker for me , I get after them good and quick. Sounds like you are dealing with each step so calmly and handling it well.

  2. Sounds like you are making some GREAT progress with him.

  3. I really admire your responsible training, especially on your own horses. It is really inspiring to me that even though you may be nervous about being bucked or reared off, you still correct your horses so that they know what is right and wrong...if I ever decide to buy an Arabian, I would definitely seek out your the question is, would you sell me one? LOL. j/k.

  4. Wow sounds like you have a lot to deal with wih him. But he seems to keep trying, which is always a good sign.

  5. So, I don't know if this is even good advice or not, but my thoroughbred used to EXPLODE backwards--- that horse could fly backwards faster than some horses could trot.

    The way I finally broke him of it was by backing him ten times further than he wanted to every single time he even threatened to back. If he threatened to back up one step, he had to back up 20. If he backed up 20 steps on his own in a spook, I made him go for 50, until he was dragging his feet. On one particular trail ride he didn't want to go past something and I ended up backing him more than 1/4 of a mile before he was willing to walk forward without hesitating. I doubt STorm is ANYWHERE near where Jubilee was as far as being messed up in the head, but if it comes down to that, you could always try that?

  6. "For some reason Storm was more concerned about this smaller puddle than he had been by the bigger ones."


    that is the case with baasha, he does all he can to avoid stepping in puddles or creeks, leaping when i am not expecting it, etc, but then one day i took him to the ocean.

    he walked right in, no problem. the roaring surf was making me dizzy, but he had no issue.

    and cedar river, i pointed him to the "deep end" where kids like to jump off cliffs above, and he and i swam together for the first time.

    but a tiny puddle, no!