Friday, January 18, 2013

The Training Wheels Have Come Off

I saddled Bombay, locked the mares in stalls, and did all our groundwork exercises in the arena. Then I rode Bombay in the arena and was pleased to see that he was very sensitive to my cues. I had some trouble trying to get into rhythm with his trot, so our cruising at the trot exercise was a dismal failure. I had to keep sitting deep to stop him, because I was bouncing out of control in my effort to post. I decided to just practice the one-rein stop at the trot instead, hoping that with me being off balance, he'd take that as a pre-signal that I'm about to ask him to halt.

My husband and I had previously arranged to go out on the trails with my husband on foot and me on Bombay today, but he wasn't coming out of the house to open the gate for me. I pulled my mobile phone out and called him, but he didn't answer. I thought perhaps he was in the bathroom, so I rode around some more practicing various maneuvers, and then parked Bombay and called my husband a second time. This time he answered. It turned out that he had his mobile phone turned off the first time I called, and then something happened to remind him to turn it on. I think it was our telepathic bond that did it.

He came out and opened the gate for me so that I wouldn't have to dismount, get the stool, lead Bombay out, shut the gate, and remount. Bombay needed some pressure to get up the driveway. He kept hugging my husband for security, and was ignoring my cues to stay out of my husband's 3-foot bubble. I probably should have told my husband to get aggressive toward Bombay to keep him from walking into him. Bombay knows now not to do that with me, but I guess he thinks the rules don't apply to other people. So, my husband just moved behind us so that Bombay and I had to be on our own.

Going through the gate required a little maneuvering, because Bombay was going to bang my knee into the post. I halted him, backed him up, got him lined up, and then had him step through. Right off the bat we ran into a big challenge. Bombay popped his head straight up in the air and turned to face a different direction from the one I asked him to walk in. I looked over and saw a group of about 10 or 12 horseback riders coming toward our trail. I wasn't sure what Bombay was going to do. I figured he'd whinny and possibly try to run over to greet the other horses, and I knew I had to get his attention back on me, so I turned him in circles until he kept his head down and walked in the direction I asked.

He was nervous until the group of riders passed behind him and disappeared in the distance. He was very well behaved on the ride out, but as soon as we turned back toward home, he pinned his ears forward and sped up. I spun him, backed him, and made him stand until I said it was okay to walk.

I nearly chickened out and dismounted before traversing the first of three medium depth arroyos and two smaller dips, because I knew he would want to run downhill, and the trail was too tight, steep and rocky for me to spin him safely. My husband encouraged me to stay on and do whatever is necessary to keep his speed under control. So, I said sternly, “Walk, Bombay.” as we entered the arroyo. He definitely wanted to run, but I just kept squeezing the reins (but kept them loose enough to give him his head) and saying, “Walk!”

He did. I repeated the command throughout the next four dips and he only broke into a trot once, and then immediately flicked his ears back and slowed down to a walk. We managed the majority of the ride on a loose rein. I stopped him when the house was in sight and made him stand. He did step off twice, so I had to spin him and circle bushes. He went out the gate through the center, remembering the trouble we got into coming in through the gate, and he walked politely the rest of the way home.

Overall, he did really well, so I didn't see any need to work him hard around the barn and in the arena after the trail ride. That was our first trail ride without me having to dismount and without my husband having to hold the lead rope. We covered a little over a mile.


Marissa said...

Way to go! Nice job! Clearly he's beginning to listen to you more. Don't be afraid to be just as aggressive when you are on him as you are when your on the ground. I think he clearly needs a very strong leader, which you are getting good at being!

redhorse said...


Katharine Swan said...

Hooray! Congratulations! I'll bet it felt great to have accomplished that. :o) I'm glad your trainer has been able to help you so much. I actually tried one of her suggestions, turning Panama's face into the rail when Panama nearly ran me into it today, and although he stopped before his face actually hit it, it worked and he did not try it again.

I'm so happy for you that you were able to have such a successful trail ride -- and I'm impressed that you stuck with it and problem-solved when Bombay gave you some trouble!

fernvalley01 said...

Whoohoo!!! Look at you go!

Crystal said...

Oh wonderful!!!

gowestferalwoman said...

okay, and this is all on an small feat - CONGRATS!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Nicely done!


achieve1dream said...

Yay! Congrats on a wonderful ride!!!! :D