To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sir Scarface Sweatyrump

I'm back from a quick trip to Texas to escort my son home after a visit with my folks. Cohort had a week off, so I was curious to see how he would behave today.

Oh, first I should explain the scar. Horton cut his face playing with his neighbor through the paddock fence at his last boarding place. Rick had stitched him up at the time, and removed the stitches in due time after Horton moved here. I thought his owner might like to see how he has healed up to now.

Back to Sir Sweatyrump. After a bit of lunging him in side reins, I mounted. Horton seemed eager to go, so after very little walking I asked for the trot. Almost immediately he balked – with ATTITUDE. I pulled his head around to my knee to avoid a quick ejection and then jumped to the ground to implement my strategy.

You see, I have been giving some thought to Horton's bad habit and the most effective response to it. I believe I was on the right track with what I did last time, but since horses live very much in the moment, a quicker reaction would be better. So I had at the ready a second lunge line with a snap end that I could attach more quickly if necessary.

I leapt off, snapped the lunge line to the nearest bit ring, and immediately commanded him into a gallop. After what I deemed sufficient exertion, I calmly brought him back, removed the lunge line, and remounted. Walked a bit, asked for the trot – and got a nasty balk again.

I responded as above, only sending him the other direction to keep things equal. Rinse and repeat . . . four times. By this time, Cohort had sweat and lather from ears to tail – not that I felt sorry for him. I mounted again and proceeded to walk him. And you know what? He gave me a more honest connection to the bit and better "ear attitude" than during any ride I've had on him to date! He thought about quitting a few times as evidenced by a slight, momentary hesitation in forward motion, and actually balked twice when tracking right – but responded quickly to a verbal correction while I pulled his head toward my knee so we were able to keep walking without another lunging session.

It was a very encouraging session, and I look forward to seeing how he responds tomorrow!


sylkan said...

Oooh, good for you. The thinking rider outsmarts the hot-shot smarty pants. Thanks for the shot of his scar. Not that bad... and so glad he missed his eye. I bet it continues to fade as it ages.

Michelle said...

Oh yes, Sylvia, I think it will fade and shrink much more, and eventually show little to not at all.

thecrazysheeplady said...

I like your training style and am glad you are sharing what you are doing and the responses.

Michelle said...

Thanks, Sara. I started this blog as a personal training journal, but also in case anyone else might be interested and benefit. Glad to know you like it!