Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Obstacle Course Test

After giving Rock's gut another listen with the stethoscope and not hearing sand moving, I laid out an obstacle course to ride him through, because I suspect that he never learned some basic maneuvers.  He's always been such a well behaved, relaxed horse that some days I wonder if all the people who have owned and ridden him skipped right past basic training and went straight out onto the trails.  He was a child's barrel horse and was started on roping a long time ago, so he had to know something, right?

I don't know if he's forgotten what he was taught or if he just was never taught it.  I laid out poles on each side of an "L" and set up orange cones for slalom, and planned to test him on his knowledge, agility and softness.

While saddling him, I stepped up onto the new mounting block, but it was set on uneven ground, so it rocked forward, causing me to fall forward.  The block made a hollow boom, and Rock jumped sideways while I unintentionally dropped the saddle on his back.  I rocked the block back to catch my balance and it boomed again.  I told him he was okay, and he settled down.  Fortunately, the saddle landed square on his back instead of on the ground.  I swear that my horses have to tolerate so much because of my clumsiness.

I spaced everything out generously because I had pretty low expectations, but Rock surprised me with tight, accurate turns.

His main trouble was with backing up.  I kept trying different cues to see if he recognized some from his past, but it was a struggle.  I decided that he definitely needed a leg cue on whichever side I wanted him to step back on.  Just pulling back steady on the reins, changing my posture, and saying BACK, which is what I do with my other horses, didn't work.  I wanted to release the pressure on the reins, but couldn't do it until he stepped back, so I added in the leg, and he'd take one step, I'd release, then ask for another step from the other side, and release.  It was slow going, but I think he's got the idea now, though.

I know it is almost impossible to see in this next picture, but there is a teeny tiny baby bunny in the corner of the shadow to the right of the ladder.  It was so cute.  I was able to walk Rock right up to the fence and it just kept grazing, completely unconcerned about us.

I had to keep all the other horses locked up in stalls so that they wouldn't interfere with Rock's test.

I let him rest in the shade as a reward.  It was a hot one.  Feels like summer.

I also rode him up and down the piles of D.G. and sand, hoping he wouldn't attempt to lay down.  When we were all done, I let the other horses out to examine the course.

Gabbrielle chewed on the mounting block, then tipped over a cone.  Then she spotted what she really wanted.

Wood!  Heavenly wood!

The horses really miss not being able to chew on wood panels, so she made like a beaver and chewed the poles down to toothpicks.  No, not really.  I rescued them before it got that far.  Bombay liked tipping and flipping the mounting block over.

Eventually, Rock joined him, and I had to save the block before they started playing soccer with it.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Rock looks like he could be a great horse. For your first day back out with him, sure seems like he's mostly solid. You're doing a great job with him.