Sunday, February 23, 2014

Balius Gets Going

Now that Balius is going to be 4 in May, I've felt the urge to actually devote some time to this gorgeous boy and give him a purpose. He's been idle in the pasture for the most part over the last couple years doing the odd play day or clinic for ground games. Before this year I'd only been on him a couple times.

So far this year things have been going well. In the last couple weeks I've really decided to give him some TLC and much needed training. Because the footing is so awful outdoors right now, we've been trailering offsite to an indoor arena.

The first trip was great. We went to SweetWater Stables with a couple other people from our barn. He was really really good. We did walk, trot, forehand & haunch turns, and back up. We attempted canter but that got a bit too playful and excited and ended up with my boot flying across the arena (don't ask me how), so I had Marcie put me on the line and she sent me in the circle for canter and we got a few strides. I was pretty impressed!

The 2nd time I took him to a clients near Peterborough, with just one other horse. It was a different arena, a coverall all with different lighting. It had a trailer set up in the middle of the ring and some tires which he found spooky. He wasn't quite as relaxed as at Sweet Water so I didn't push my luck, so I just did some riding exercises at the walk and mostly ground work.

I discovered I created a bit of a cookie monster.... I'd been giving him a cookie for doing Spanish walk and spins because I wanted to help motivate him, but it got to the point where it was hard for him to stand still because he'd keep trying to spin or do Spanish walk... needless to say we had to go back to some basics and keep the cookies in the bag!

Today was a good test for him, I took him on his first trail ride! I hand walked him most of the time because he's barely started under saddle. Then we practiced some confidence building as we practiced riders from the trail riding away from each other and then they'd come back (to help prevent herd bound issues).

I did some ground work, and decided he was ready to ride so I rode him at the walk through Pontypool for a bit. Before heading home I hopped off again to hand walk him - I wasn't sure how excited he'd get. He had one excited playful burst on the way home so I was happy with my decision to dismount prior to that.

Then he finished by calmly walking the rest of the way home. I think he really enjoyed looking around at everything. It was great exposure as we passed a few cars, and snowmobiles!

It was a good example of that there are no rules of 'once you get on you have to stay on' - instead it was about setting it up for success. I was prepared to hand walk the entire ride if I didn't think he was relaxed enough - and I know it's better to get off and stay in control, so I kept the riding short and successful (I rode about 10 min and walked about 50min). Now he's had a good experience I'm sure he'll be even better the next time.

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