Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Report Cards for Horses

RANCHette has been keeping progress reports on her pony's advancements in training. I thought that was a good idea for me, since I tend to lose focus easily. I start training for one thing, and then someone gets me going on something else, or the weather gets bad and by the time I return to training, I can't remember where I left off. I used to just want to ride for the sake of riding, whether it was a good ride or not. However, I've been fortunate enough to get in so much riding this past year that I'm no longer interested in just riding. I want to shape my horses into being the best horses they can be.

RANCHette makes a list of goals for Mr. Banderas and writes PASS, FAIL, or IN PROGRESS under each date where the pony is worked. I'm making a list of goals for each of my horses and using A, B, C, D and F grades with a few pluses and minuses.

I've been sloughing through books on trail riding for the past six months or so, and these books bring up a lot of good points I've never considered, so I am now working even harder on preparing my horses for trail riding. For instance, if you and your horse get separated, how are you going to get it back? It helps if the horse has bells tied to it and reflector tape around its tail, but what is really awesome is if your horse comes when it is called. So far Gabbrielle gets an A+ for coming when I whistle and call her name. Bombay and Lostine are a different story.

Bombay gets a grumpy look on his face when I approach him with a halter, and then he walks away from me and just keeps turning to avoid letting me get to his head. However, he'll usually hold still if I get firm with my voice and body language. Lostine runs from me when I approach with a halter, and I have to physically corner her to catch her. The only exception is if she knows she's going to pasture. In that case she'll kick the other horses out of the way, run toward me, and stick her nose in the halter. So, I will probably have to use food as an incentive while starting this "come when I call" training. Gabbrielle just comes because she loves attention, but the two older horses are tired of being ridden and will need something more.


Katharine Swan said...

It sounds like Bombay and Lostine view it as a chore more than anything else. Any way you can make it more fun or more relaxing for them?

I'd also suggest mixing it up a bit. I read something recently that said be sure not to ride every time you catch and halter your horse. Sometimes just groom them, love on them, and then let them go back to what they were doing.

A woman I used to board with had a great way of putting it into perspective. She said only catching your horse when you want to go for a ride is like your husband only paying attention to you when he wants to, er, go for a ride. ;o)

Katharine Swan said...

I was just rereading your other post about Bombay being silly. While it sounds like Lostine mainly doesn't like being dominated, it sounds like Bombay is getting bored. I'd definitely try to think of ways to make it more interesting for him. He seems to have a good sense of humor -- use that to your advantage!

fernvalley01 said...

A little trick I have used is only give them a treat once they are caught and out of the pen, takes a little time but eventually you get to the point where they will come to you for the halter any time . As far as returning to you on the trail ,you would be surprised how quickly they decide you are their only friend when in strange territory

OnceUponAnEquine said...

This post gives me some good things to think about as far as holding my horses AND myself accountable and having training tasks to focus on. I ordered the 2 trail riding books you mentioned recently, and a 3rd one. Thanks for the tips.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - I think you hit the nail on the head about Bombay being bored and Lostine not wanting to be dominated. I'm starting to think that you know my horses better than I do.

fernvalley01 - I always wondered if a horse would run away out into the unknown or stay close. I could see them running in the direction of home if it is close enough.

OnceUponAnEquine - I'll be interested in knowing what you think of the books. I have another one I'm reading now that I will review when I finish it.

ranchette said...

Thanks for the mention. Good luck with the report cards! I'm easily taken off target too so I find them a good way to keep myself on track. It's also nice to be able to look back and quantify how much has already been learned already ...especially when hitting a plateau.