Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Rehabilitation of Storm......... Signs of Progress........and a Little Whoops....

Part 1

Once I did get Storm listening to me on the ground, I would move on into riding him. Then I would stick to the same thing, walk work and trot work only.

In the beginning even putting my leg on the horse to move him laterally made him want to break into the trot. Luckily for me the horse responds well to the word, "No." Even with that Storm seemed to get much more easily he shouldn't go from a walk to a trot than he did from a trot to a canter. Still I didn't even ask him for a trot until I had gotten some very solid walk work out of him.

While he was gone the horse did not forget the cues for moving laterally off my legs. I suspect that's because the cues I used for that work were never applied so they did not get muddied. They just remained in his horsey brain unused. I got a little resistance the very first day when I applied them but that was pretty much it. From that point forward if I asked the horse to flex, bend or move laterally, he did fine, at the walk anyway.

If you remember from the Wendy Potts clinic, the horse was not capable of flexing or bending to the outside at the trot or the canter. That's why Wendy got on him in the first place. I think she thought I was not cuing him correctly. She found she couldn't get it done either because the horse was that physically locked up. It was then she suggested I go back to the very basics and pull the horse's head to my knee allowing his hind end to spiral out and around.

With few breaks in the weather, it seemed like each time I was getting to ride, it had been days before the last ride. That meant the ride was another first ride of the week with the lighter schedule. Even with that Storm was making some kind of progress. He still wanted to speed up whenever I put my legs on him but he was beginning to get more flexible. Before long I found I could flex the horse to the outside and he was actually able to bend.

It was easy to tell that the horse was getting to that kind of flexibility. When I would pull his head around to my knee, the horse was no longer responding in exactly the same way. Instead of just following his nose around in that circle, Storm was beginning to move through this exercise with his shoulder requiring a block with the outside rein. It was nice to see the progress.

There was another thing we struggled with on these intermittent days of work. Storm would be so excited he was not really paying attention. Even when I would get his attention on the ground, I would loose a portion of it when I got on his back. The way this manifested itself was I lost my "whoa."

Now, I know the horse knows the word "whoa." He just didn't think he needed to listened to it. I had to spend some significant amount of time putting the "whoa" back on this horse so that it was there when requested instead of when he felt like giving it. Not a fun thing to be doing with a horse that has about three years under saddle.

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

Some Psychology.......

The look on Storm's face in this picture, I have seen many times over these past few months as he tries to figure out what's happening to him.

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  1. oh, i really hate that when i ask a horse to move over with my leg, and he speeds up! thankfully that's a pretty easy thing to teach, i just cannot believe some people just let that go.

    good thing storm listens to you and wants to do right.

  2. sounds like you have the paitience of a saint're doing great work and I enjoy reading of you daily sessions

  3. Even though it's frustrating going back to the basics was a good idea for Storm. Hopefully, all the bad habits and bad training he learned while he was away will disappear completely one day. Taking it slowly is the best way to go I think.

  4. LOVE that photo of Storm. You could tell even when he was little that he was going to be something special.

    When you're pulling his head around are you only asking him for bend or are you asking him to disengage his hips? Just curious.

  5. OH MY GOODNESS that picture is just amazing!!!!! I could just tuck him in my pocket and bring him home!!! :o) You get some of the best pictures of your guys!!!

    Never thought of jiggling the lunge line, will give that a try.

    Yes the girls LOVE to putter around with the horses. They play hide and seek with the guys on a lead and other games that they have made up. I hope Lil' Bud holds up, he is so good for the girls to work with as he is pretty much bomb proof. Someone said he is the most honest horse they've ever met, I like that!

  6. Yep, that's an alert look. I bet he is wondering what in the heck is going on from day to day. He'll figure it out with the consistency you're giving him.

  7. lytha, I don't know that they let it go, more like that's the only time they put legs on him to get him to change gait.

    I am grateful that underneath all this stuff there is a horse that wants to please otherwise this would be a huge mess. As it is it has been a challenge.

    Sally, on the whole I am not a patient person but I can manage to turn it on when I need it most. I really wish I had more patience and who knows maybe this thing with Storm will teach it to me.

    Arelene, I don't think Storm could handle without it being slow. His frustration would eat him up and cause big problems, I think.

    smazourek, in the beginning it was just to get him driving off the hind end so it was totally about his hips. As he loosened up, it developed into more bend and lateral movement.

    MM, we did know right from the day he was born that he was pretty special, but then, so did he. LOL

    Linda, yes as he begins to figure things out, I see less of that look but in the beginning it seemed to be what I saw most. He's definitely getting more comfortable with our expectations here.

  8. One of these days it will all come together for him. The light will come on, the clouds will part- everything in his world will make sense again.

    When that day comes- feel free to do the happy dance! You deserve it.

    We all know you have put a lot of time into undoing what has been undone and getting the horse back on the right track...

    And keep the baby pics coming. Those faces are adorable.