Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Horse-wise, I've been concentrating on groundwork and building a bond based on trust this past week or so.  I'm reading old horse training books again to try to better comprehend what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, what I might be doing wrong if the horse isn't responding, and how to correct various problems.  Then when the Parelli student comes over to play, I show her what I learned from the books and from the horse trainer.  She has a really good grasp on the psychology of a horse, why groundwork is important, and how to do various exercises.

What she needs to work on is being more assertive and increasing the intensity of her cues.  She said she struggles because by the time she realizes that she should have corrected the horse, too much time had passed and she lost her window to react in a way where the horse would make the association between its behavior and her correction.  My thought was for her to stop as soon as she comes to that realization and repeat the same exercise, expecting that the horse will make the same mistake at the same point, and that way she can be ready to apply an immediate correction.

I showed her how I can get Lostine to move her feet just by puffing myself up big and leaning in toward her, and then how as soon as I relaxed my body, Lostine picked up on it and she stopped moving her feet.  I also pointed out how easily Lostine can make another horse run from her with just a look.  She doesn't have to bite or kick to get a quick response from a horse that is in her space.  That's our goal as humans.  We want to get horses out of our space just with a look.  All this stick tapping and rope pulling is just the beginning of communicating with a horse.

Parelli student really clicked with Gabbrielle.  She had her gliding sideways up and down the fence after a while.  She liked her the best of all my horses.  I explained that I raised Gabbrielle with Clinton Anderson's methods, while with Bombay being my first horse, I didn't know what I was doing with him, and Lostine has had so many owners that nobody really knows her background.  When all was said and done, we spent two hours doing groundwork with all three horses.  Then we groomed them and she fed them their lunch before leaving.  She wanted to help with the barn chores, so I'll be sure to leave some manure for her to clean up next time she comes.  ; )

When the trainer arrived in the afternoon, I didn't see any point in doing more groundwork, so we saddled up Lostine and Bombay for a ride.  I told her I just need a nice, quiet, relaxing ride right now, so I really didn't want to work on training one horse by him or herself on the trails.  I wanted to take a route away from other horses and away from the road where I knew they would more likely behave.  I wanted to set them up for success.

I kept Lostine in front most of the way because she walks slow and stumbles a lot, which would cause Bombay to have to cool his heels.  It worked.  The trainer only had problems with him trying to run down and up the arroyos.  Other than that, he didn't jig much.  Lostine pulled a few stunts like balking when I didn't take the trail she wanted to take, and trying to lower her head to sniff manure along the trail, but I was one step ahead of her, and I think she was too hot and tired to put much effort forth in arguing with me.  So, overall it was a really nice ride.

The only time I got worried was when my trainer pulled up alongside us on the way home and Lostine pinned her ears back at Bombay.  I rattled her reins and said, "No, no, no!"  I didn't want her to even think about kicking Bombay or the trainer's leg.  Plus, Bombay had been walking beside her on the way out, and she didn't have any problems with it then.  Why should having him get ahead of her on the way back be any different?  I suppose she thought he might get home to the food faster, but regardless of what she was thinking, I wasn't going to allow any aggressiveness toward another horse.

All the desert fauna was blooming, so we got to see a lot of yellows, pinks, purples and reds.  Bunnies, ground varmints, lizards and quail were scurrying all around us and nobody spooked.  It was almost as if the horses felt like they belonged out there just as much as the wildlife, so they moseyed along nicely with all these critters weaving in and out of bushes and rocks around us.

The trainer was impressed.  She felt that the two hours of groundwork that Parelli student and I did in the morning made all the difference in the world with my horses' attitudes.  When we got back, the trainer and I decided to test the horses by riding them past the barn and the horse trailer down toward the arroyo.  Both horses tried to stop at both places, but listened to us when we urged them on.  She dismounted down by the arroyo just to confuse Bombay further, and I rode Lostine back past the trailer and the barn, up the driveway like we were going out on the trails again, and she actually perked up like she was happy with that decision.  Then I dismounted on the driveway, and led her back to the barn.

So, there's hope for these horses after all.  It just takes time and patience.  And it really helps to have two other people pitching in with the training.  : )


~Allison said...

Yes! I have learned that it really helps to have a person or two to help with the training!
Good job with the groundwork. I think it is so important with a horse and increases the bond so much. You are making great progress!

strivingforsavvy said...

Sounds like a great horsey day!

Crystal said...

Oh that makes it all worthwhile to have a good ride like that!

Cindy D. said...


achieve1dream said...

This post makes me so happy!!!!! I'm glad having two other people is helping get the horses behaving better. Three horses is just too much for one person to deal with!! That's one reason I haven't been messing with Zep and Faran because Chrome is my priority and I didn't have time to work with more than one. I'm going to start working with Zep again though because he needs some work done on his hooves and teeth, not to mention he needs gelded lol.