Saturday, February 13, 2010

On the Right Track

During our solo training session and ride today, I focused on the little things, staying soft but firm in my cues, and insisting that AhD went the speed I determined. I was thinking during this ride of how far we have come from some of our low points and how much I am really enjoying my Curly boy. I feel that I am doing well on the way to my goal of being a Good Leader to my horse. I am not there yet, but I am definitely being a better leader, and with that is coming better behavior from my beloved AhD. I had to get over my spoiled attitude of just wanting to Get On and Go and not wanting to work on the small stuff that makes a good foundation.
Before we hit the trail, I got AhD’s mind focused on me by doing lateral pressure gives, back ups and turns on the forehand from the ground right in the barn. Then I bridled him and mounted bareback, still in the barn, insisting that he stand still while I mounted a few different times. We did turns, backs, figure eight’s and such, staying in the barn aisle. AhD’s companion was whinnying up a storm outside. I maneuvered AhD over to the barn door, lifted the latch, swung open the door, and out we went. I felt like I was in a trail class, and AhD was a star pupil! We tooled around the winter paddock, going here and there, circling the manure pile, heading into deep snow, mixing it up and practicing lightness and response. I was very satisfied with how much progress we have made in that area. I dismounted and made AhD stand totally still in the Right Spot for me to mount from a big rock.
We also practiced standing and ignoring Mister Man, who was insanely jealous.
I then saddled AhD up, insisting that he stand stock still, and putting him back when he didn’t. Again, this goes back to me paying attention to details that I didn’t bother with before. I am pretty easy going, and it never bothered me if my horses moved a few steps as I swung the saddle on their back. Now that I know that it DOES matter, because it is an issue of obedience on AhD’s part and leadership on mine, I make him stand still. I get it now, that all the Little Things do turn into Big Things over time.
I chose this saddle and blanket combo because this is the one my friend Harold likes best.
Out on the trail, AhD had a pretty darn good attitude, even though we have not been outside of the paddock for a couple weeks. The last time we rode out here, this tree was still leaning. Today AhD stepped over it, at the exact spot I told him to, with no fussing. That has never been a problem for him, and I am very grateful and appreciative of it.
We circled around this small stand of baby pines about twenty times in each direction at one point when AhD was getting worked up. My dog Grace was underfoot at the time, and AhD made not one single move to strike at her or stomp her. Now THAT’s progress!
Heading home, I made sure to pay attention to AhD’s speed. If he broke into a trot, I made a guttural sound to show my displeasure and slightly tightened the reins. He immediately went back to walking speed and gave me no sass. I made him stop at this stream for a while when he didn't want to. Can you tell? I continued to mix it up by asking for changes of pace and unexpected about turns to the opposite direction. Out at road, I asked for backing up. At first, AhD’s attitude was, "What?! You’ve got to be kidding me! We’re almost home!" but I insisted, and we ended up with three quite fluid backups before calling it a day. I’m proud of my Curly. He likes hearing me say, "Good Boy!!" and rubbing his neck when he does as I ask. We are on the right track to becoming a much better team!

4 comments:

  1. Susan, It does my heart good to hear my sentiments about the little things making all the difference echoed by you! And good job on your success with the retraining process (of you and AhD :))He is such a handsome boy with such expressive ears and you are so incredibley brave to take pictures while riding! maybe some day!

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  2. "I had to get over my spoiled attitude of just wanting to Get On and Go and not wanting to work on the small stuff that makes a good foundation."

    Boy Susan, I can relate to that! Also, those little things turning into big things is so true...

    What an inspirational session!

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  3. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gosh, Susan...you and I ARE alike aren't we?? And as we implement those techniques on the trail, it's funny how our boys are like too, "WHAT the heck...you are asking for a side pass ON THE TRAIL...who does that, not us!?"

    I died laughing at your dialog with AHD asking him to back up going home. They are just so used to us just travelin' along, singin a song, enjoying the scenery! LoL. Watch out AHD and Reese....your humans are reborn! LOL.
    Good girl!

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  4. Wow, Brie, it makes me feel great that I inspired YOU, when usually it is the other way around!!! And Ellen, you hit the nail on the head by saying that I am retraining MYSELF as well as AhD. My brain went,"Ding,Ding!" or as Heather would say, an "aha" moment.

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