Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Fun of Spring - Getting My Horses Into Shape

Angel - She was acting really pokey on Sunday during her lesson. She was pretty good for ground work, but crowding a little, and not wanting to budge a whole lot for games like sideways. Then for riding she was very pokey and not motivated to move.

I had Dr. Silverman up to do a chiro assessment on her and her muscles/back were given a clean bill of health and we ruled out anything physical.

So I decided to take Angel out for a session last night. I got really firm about my personal space, and moving out of my space. I played a lot of games at a distance with air pressure so that Angel couldn't crowd me. Then her whole attitude started to change. She really started chewing and licking, thinking, and relaxing but moving.

She maintained circles at trot and canter, did sideways down the fence both ways, and played 'hide the hiney'. After some really good ground work that really established myself as a fair but firm leader, we did some riding. The difference was really great - Angel rode walk/trot/canter, still a little pokey, but she maintained full laps around the ring, and was rewarded with praise and rest breaks.

I'll probably do a few more sessions with her to make sure she keeps up the good work, but all in all Angel did a complete turn around from being slow and unresponsive, to moving and responsive.

HoneyBoo - Has only had a few riding sessions done in early winter. Yesterday I put the saddle on, and did some ground work. She was a bit flighty and nervous because of all the shadows in the arena with the evening light, and she isn't used to being in the arena.

We circles around the arena, over small jumps, and she maintained gait really well. She pulled on me sometimes so I had to keep pulling her in and then putting slack back into the rope to help teach her to keep slack in the rope. She ended up doing some gorgeous trot circles really focused on me and not pulling on me so we moved on.

She was great with sideways down the fence - better going towards the paddocks with the horses then towards the front of our property. So to set her up for success I practiced going towards the paddocks to help get the understanding, then I tried going away from the paddocks and it went well.

We did some turns and hind the hiney, and a lot of back up. I had to be pretty firm with the wiggle to back up quite a few times because in the beginning she really wanted to just jump forward and play. After I set up some firm boundaries and expectations - without being mean or punishing - she was respecting my space, really relaxing, and doing lots of licking, chewing, and thinking.

HoneyBoo is going to be a spectacular lesson horse, she just needs more miles and exposure. I practice clinking the stirrups on her back which made her jump a little, and hopping around her - yes I looked goofy. I was just helping HoneyBoo get more desensitized to different things.

I can't wait to get her going more!

Balius - my little fellow that I got when he was just 4 months old is getting all grown up and turning 3 next month! I've started doing some more training with him because I am taking him to the young horse clinic with Don Halladay in May. I want Balius to be used to some more work, and to find out where we need help.

Balius can be super smart and very impressive - he was doing some amazing circles, balanced canter, nice jumps, lovely sideways with and without a wall, and we got into some more advanced patterns like figure 8's, roll backs, and weaves.

Where Balius and I need to improve is working with direct pressure - he is prone to biting, so I have to be careful how much I push him because things can be going great and then he'll either get overwhelmed or playful and nip. For this reason I don't do any follow me exercises or trotting beside him because he can get playful and will start to jump around and I don't want him jumping on top of me - I try to set him up for success and my safety by working at a distance most of the time. I plan to work on this over the next couple weeks and then focus on these tasks when we're at the clinic.

My biggest dilemma right now for Balius, is do I geld him or not? I would love to get a couple foals out of my mustang and Fjord mares - mustangs and Fjords are relatively rare and they are such hardy and wonderful horses… and it would be nice to have them crossed with something taller and more athletic. On the downside, although I can handle the nippy behaviour, I don't want having Balius as a stallion to make my farm unsafe for students. Right now he is out in a herd with mares and geldings, he is well socialized, and he respects other horses.

He is such a big, beautiful, and well built horse…. I'll probably make up my mind after the clinic to see what happens after that.

Lumen - so adorable and sweet. He did his first training session with a saddle on Sunday. He didn't get upset about the saddle at all - no bucks or scoots!

James played some ground games with Lumen, some circles, and backing up. Just some simple exercises to get Lumen used to the saddle. Lumen was so calm about everything, he did really well.

I then did a little mounting exercises with him - practiced hopping beside him, wiggly the sittups about, and tapping the saddle area. Lumen wasn't bothered by anything so I put my foot in the stirrup and pulled myself up. He was really calm and just stood there.

I asked James to lead Lumen for a walked, and the first time he scooted a bit, but settled to a stop and I rewarded him by getting off, and then starting over. I reassured him that he wasn't in trouble and no one was going to get hurt.

Lumen relaxed and then James took me on a pony ride around the arena and even walking over the small jump.

It was a packed first saddle session and job well done for both Lumen and James :) 

1 comment:

  1. LOL LOL LOL......yes Angel certainly was pokey. I'm looking forward to seeing her responding better. And I know that it certainly has a lot to do with the horses leader. I need to be more assertive with her and Allure :). It's coming...........

    Great news though. Angel is sooooo sweet & it was just so difficult to believe she was not too brilliant! I'm so glad you've debunked that myth!