Thursday, October 30, 2014

Good Boy

The theme of this morning's horseback ride was encouragement.  As I was trying to mount Rock, a bee kept trying to land on either him or me.  It was persistent and obnoxious.  When I saw it trying to land on Rock's eye, I swatted it away and made it angry.  I began leading Rock all over the place to get away from the bee, but it just kept following us and landing on us.  I was probably getting as angry as the bee, because I just want to go for a trail ride and the pesky bee wouldn't let me mount my horse.  So, I took him behind the horse trailer and stood very still, and the bee finally moved on.  I gave Rock a ton of praise so that he would understand that I was irritated with the bee and not him.  He was being a good boy by letting me drag him all over the place in a seemingly aimless manner.

It feels that each time I ride a horse, he or she develops some new bad habit that I have to figure out how to break.  On this ride, Rock kept leaning toward home.  If home was to our left, he leaned to the left of the trail and tried to take any break in the bushes as an opportunity to turn toward home.  If home was to our right, he leaned, pushed and turned to the right.  I had to use my legs and reins a lot more than usual...

So, instead of taking a route that I enjoy because of the scenery and terrain, I just rode him around home.  Each time I turned him toward home, he rushed.  Once we got to the trail to home, we struggled to each go our own way, but I always won by turning him away from home.  One time he did turn away from home, but stopped and refused to budge since he didn't get his way.  So, he was reminded that I was wearing spurs.

With each time I turned him away from home, he got better about just going with the flow, and with each time I turned him toward home, he did better about keeping a consistent pace and not rushing, so I stroked his neck a lot and said, "Good boy."

He learned that there was no point in rushing when I turned him toward home, because the chances were that we weren't going home anyway.  We were just going to either turn around and head back out or ride right past it.

Once home, he mouthed me and looked at me expectantly.  Then I realized that the bad behavior of pushing toward home at the beginning of the ride was my fault.  The last time I rode him, I rewarded him with treats at the end of our ride.  That's all it took.  A one-time treat, and now the horse can't get it off his mind.  Even after I removed his halter, he wouldn't budge from where I left him at the gate, because he felt like the process wasn't over.  He was still waiting for a food reward.  He got pets and pats and praise instead.


Cheryl Ann said...

Isn't it funny how they ALL remember their treats? Mine will call for theirs. They know that after their R&R time, they get a treat...they aren't STUPID! :-)
Cheryl Ann (taking the day off today...) just too much chaos and I already have a sore throat!

achieve1dream said...

Lol!! Chrome does that too! I'm bad about feeding him after our ride so I don't have to go back out after dark.... Or letting him graze in the yard before I put him up.... Oops!!