Thursday, January 12, 2017

Not Much Whoa on the Way Home

Today was another one of those days were I had to be determined to ride or it wasn't going to happen.  I received a phone call yesterday telling me to expect a phone call in the morning, and of course, that phone call came when I was in the shower, and that launched this lengthy game of telephone tag that took all morning.  At one point, I was told that the person would call me "right back".  The phone rang one minute later, I glanced at the number, and it was the person who said she'd call me.  The phone skipped a beat and changed to a different screen.  I was confused, but answered anyway.  Much to my disgust, the phone call I was expecting and trying to connect with all morning got cut off by a simultaneous incoming call from some scam artist trying to convince me that I won a free vacation.

I.  Was.  Pissed.

I hung up on her, blocked her number, and had to call the other person back, couldn't get through, and on and on it went.  By the time I was able to shut off my phone and ride, I was pretty frustrated.  I wish I could just once go for a pleasant horseback ride without other people thwarting it in some way or putting me in a bad mood.

Rock wouldn't hold still for the mount, despite all the training I've been putting in with that, so I just set him up where he had nowhere to go.  I was already feeling my energy getting depleted, and I didn't want to have to fart around with mount training.  He was awesome on the way out.

But as soon as we turned toward home, he kept breaking into the trot without a cue and throwing his head around...

He had very little whoa.  It took a lot of work to stop him, and then even more work to make him stand still.  I kind of set him up for failure by taking the longest trail that was a straight shot toward home.  He knew that all he had to do was break into a gallop, go straight, and he'd be back at the barn in no time.

He stopped voluntarily once when he saw a hiker off to our left.  It was a man without a shirt on.  For some reason, that got Rock all riled up, and he really wanted to run after that.  I had to make a safety decision to dismount.

Of course, I couldn't take him straight home after that, so we wandered aimlessly for a while.  He got annoyed, because he wanted to go home, so he started nipping me with his lips and getting into trouble for that.

Each time he barged ahead and cut me off, I lunged him in a circle and made him walk further away from home.  It was tough, because I was trying to train him that bad behaviors won't get him home faster, but my leg was giving out on me and I didn't know how much longer I could walk.  Eventually, he showed signs of understanding what I needed him to do, and he made an effort to behave better.

Once home, I lunged him in the round pen with this saddle on.

I stopped giving him peppermints after rides a while ago, as soon as it became evident that he was rushing home for his reward.  At some point, he should learn that nothing good comes out of hurrying back to the barn.  We have to go through this process any time that he hasn't been ridden regularly.  That's why I get so upset when other people interfere with my riding routine and take up my time doing other things.  I pay the price by having to re-train my horses.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I know it's annoying to have to go through all that but at least you did get out to ride for a while. Some days are good and some days they drive you crazy with horses.

TeresaA said...

It sounds successful over all to me.

Camryn said...

So glad you got to ride. I hate those blasted tele marketers, always seem to call just as I'm getting Jefferson down for a nap.

Linda said...

That's unfortunate, but you handled it well. It would be nice if there was a place along the trail you could let him rest, have a treat, and kickback before heading home. We do that on most of our long rides. Usually we stay on their backs, but just kick back and talk and let the horses take a little nap. They get in the mindset that their reward is out on the trail, and not back at the trailer. But you're riding alone, so I don't know how that could work. Anyway, I bet he'll be better for you next time since home wasn't all it was cracked up to be!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Linda - I had that thought, but it was only fleeting. Being able to think has been a luxury lately with all the interruptions between dogs and phone calls, but I was starting to think along those lines of how I can make being far away from home a reward for him. I know that some people feed their horses treats from the saddle when they do clicker training. I've been afraid to try that, because I don't want my horse to start turning his head around and nipping at my hands or legs while I'm riding. I used to do clicker training with treats in a fanny pack, and now any time the horses see me wearing my mobile phone case, they mug me and try to eat my phone. I'll start out by just having them rest before I turn toward home and see if that's enough to make a difference. If not, I'll recruit a friend to ride with me and give him treats away from home.