Tuesday, September 13, 2016


We got a cloudy and windy, but still mighty warm couple of days, so I used them to do ground work with the horses.  It's time to start getting all of us into shape and listening to each other after hibernating through a long, hot summer.  I took Rock for a walk on the bridle trails, and he was well behaved.  I did warn him repeatedly not to nip me, because I knew he was thinking about it, but he did manage to resist.  He got super excited to see the horses at the rescue up the street.

Then I lunged Lostine and she got all spazzy about it.  She worked herself up into a sweat and I had to cool her down at a hand walk before she gave herself a heart attack.

Then I lunged Bombay.  I brought in the traffic cones, figuring I'd come up with some way to make use of them.  I left Bombay alone for a couple of minutes while I grabbed my camera, because I know how the readers of this blog much prefer posts with photos.  When I returned, Bombay was flipping out over being left alone...

However, once I returned to the center of the round pen, he instantly settled down and got back to work.

I decided to see if I could get Bombay to run in between the two orange traffic cones while I free-lunged him.  I started out with a very general command just to see if he was in tune enough to be able to interpret what I wanted.  I pointed at the  middle of the cones, while swinging my arm to show movement, and said, "Through."

I didn't expect much.  I mainly wanted to see if he noticed that I was giving a different cue.  He pretty much ignored it.  So, then I hooked up his lead rope and played the game of come to me and back away through the cones, and each time he passed between them, I said, "Through."

Then I lunged him in both directions in small circles on the lead rope and said "through" each time he passed in between the cones.  I was just trying to establish an action with the new word.

Then I positioned him in front of the cones and said "through" while clucking, so that he would take the initiative to walk through them instead of being driven through them.  Of course, he got pats and praise and much celebration when he passed through them.

I unsnapped the lead rope from his halter and lunged him again, backing out of his space and motioning while saying "through" to get him to go through the cones at liberty.  At first, he just passed close to them, so I'd have to send him around again.  He wasn't staying focused because gusts of wind were blowing the trees around us and spooking him, so I stopped him and had him face me.  Then I patted my chest and kissed to get him to come to me.  As he walked toward me, I walked backwards through the cones and he walked forward through them while I said "through".

Then I drove him through the cones by where I positioned my body.  I called that good enough for one session.

"Turn, man, turn."

Of course, he had to stop too itch his face on the cone before passing through.

Sniff.  Sniff.


I kept moving the cones closer and closer together, so Bombay decided to cut to the chase...

"Is that close enough, Mom?"

"I don't know, Bombay.  Can you fit through that?"

"I'll try..."

"...or not."

Then I lunged Rock, and this was his reaction to me cracking the whip...

Go, man, go.


"I got the fitz, Mom.  I can't stop jumping and bucking.  This wind is awesome."

"Time to get down to business, Rock."

"Okay.  What do I do?"

"Go through."

"Like this?"

"Yup.  Just like that."

Rock surprised me by learning the through game in just a fraction of the time it took me to work with Bombay.  It helps that he couldn't care less about trees blowing in the wind.


Kathryn Little said...

Focus can definitely affect how quickly they learn things! looks like some fruitful groundwork

ellie k said...

Good work out for the horses and you I think. Glad you are feeling better and the weather allows you to be outside.
I had my breast surgery yesterday and everything went great. the doctor said the mass was smaller then the MRI showed. I am doing great and just feel tired and sore and thankful to have it all over and be home.

Linda said...

All your horses are great, but I have a special thing for Rock. That horse just seems golden to me. Bombay has a funny personality. Gotta love that, too!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

ellie - That's good news. I meant to respond to this comment several times, and each time I tried to bring up the web page, my Internet cut out.