Friday, July 16, 2010

Dawn Says To Tone It Down

The temperature finally stayed below 90F today, and the humidity wasn't too bad, so Maisie and Dawn and I finally got some work done. After a nice long walk warmup, Maisie and I did a little trotting, but she's still a bit gimpy - it's hard to tell if it's more the left hind or the right front - she's sound at the walk although her stride isn't loose and free. After a little trotting, she wasn't warming up out of it, so we went on a trail walk instead. The bugs weren't too bad since it was pretty windy. She does have developing high (P1/P2 pastern joint) ringbone in her right front, which means she's got some arthritic changes there, and she may also be developing more arthritic changes in her left hock. She's never been the soundest horse, but we do everything we can to help her stay as sound as possible. Our wonderful chiropractor/vet will be coming next Tuesday, and we'll check her out thoroughly - I suspect it isn't a chiropractic or foot issue this time.

Our chiropractor/vet is also an endocrine specialist, especially for older horses, and we'll be drawing some blood from Noble to recheck his thyroid level. He's still eating well, and his energy level is good, but he's dropping some weight, which I'm not happy about. At this point in the summer, he should have gained some weight. We know his teeth are good since the dentist visited recently. It may be that his thyroid dose just needs to be adjusted.

Someone who isn't having any problem putting on weight is Dawn - I think she's the fattest she's ever been, mainly because my younger daughter isn't around much this summer to give her good workouts. I'm trying to get her more consistent work so we can take some of those pounds off. Today we worked on lunging off my body language and verbal commands, and some more walk work under saddle.

One of the things I love about Dawn is that she is very sensitive to every action you take and cue you give, and will tell you exactly what she thinks of what you are doing. When I was saddling, she was giving me a bit of "mareitude" - some ugly faces and pinned ears. She isn't really girthy, and her back isn't sore - I think she was saying that I need to move more softly when placing the pad and saddle and moving them around. I hissed at her until I got ears up, but told her I would try to do better tomorrow.

While we were lungeing, we started some more focussed work on transitions, walk/trot, and trot/canter. When I asked her to whoa from the canter using a verbal command, she stopped perfectly within one stride - and then the interesting thing was that she nickered to me, each time just as she stopped. It was her "acknowledgement" nicker that she uses to say "I see you and know about you and what you are doing". (Or perhaps it was "I did it just right, and where are the treats?" this time.) I didn't use treats today, just verbal praise and stroking for her verbal whoa. She seemed happy enough with that, and got a jackpot of treats after we were all done.

She did a really nice job with her transitions off my body language (I walk more quickly and raise my energy level to transition upwards and the reverse for downwards transitions) and verbal commands to trot and canter. She did tell me, however, that I was overcuing her for the trot/canter transition - she would do a little crow-hop/scoot for a stride or so. When I toned things down and was softer with my energy level, she transitioned perfectly. She'll get me trained eventually - she says she's working on it!

Under saddle, we did some work over ground poles - she was good about not rushing and accepting my direction - and we also did some softening work at the walk. She also paid good attention to my direction to either shorten or lengthen the walk, off my freeing up or slightly resisting with my seat and body - no rein cues. She also did some nice halts, and some soft, slow backing steps - she was really tuned in today.

A very good session! Tomorrow, I don't know if I'll get to work with them, since the heat index is supposed to get up into the high 90s again.


  1. Oh I wish I knew that Mark was in our area. I have read about him on your site and a few others I would really love to go and see him.

  2. Some of you may have read the first version of this post - it turns out that the Mark Rashid clinic in Wisconsin I referred to in the earlier version isn't this weekend - it's next weekend - which is good news as I may be able to go to all of it.

  3. I bet you'd learn faster if she used treats.


  4. Can horses buy human treats? Who is training who? I`ve read Mark Rashid, and watched clinics. His style is very easy and usable.

  5. I bet Dawn's cute nicker was a "Where are the treats?" question. Sovey does a soft nicker to remind me if I "forget" to give him one! Also, like Dawn's ear pinning, Sovey has me trained about soft saddle pad and saddle placement too. Funny Thoroughbreds. They know what they like!


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