Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some Halter Work and Just Standing Around

Even though Pie had a rest day today, we actually did do a little bit of work.  His ground manners and leading are already excellent in almost all respects, but there were a few small things I wanted to fine tune.  It's clear he was taught to lead level with your shoulder, and I want him to lead behind me when he's the only horse I'm leading.  This means he's truly following me, can't lead me as we make turns and makes it easier to do turns to the right and also means if he spooks he's less likely to end up on top of me - not that I think Pie's a big spooker or that reactive.  (I was really pleased with something yesterday - when I went into the dry lot to retrieve him after his play time with the geldings, I haltered him on the far side of the pasture, and just as I did, Scout bolted away from Pie to the gate.  Did Pie bolt or pull on the halter?  No, he just looked and stayed right with me.  Really, really nice!)

We walked around a bit and I worked on making it clear to him how I wanted him to lead - he's good at getting out of my space when asked - I only had to make little popping noises to get what I wanted - his first response was to want to go around me on the right but he quickly got what I wanted and was happy to oblige - leading an arm's-length behind me on a loose lead, and stopping, turning and moving as I did.  He would call from time to time, but never got agitated.

He also tends to root or push on the halter sometimes - I expect he may have gotten an unintended release for this and has learned the behavior.  The man who owned him also showed me his head-down for bridling, and he tended to pop right up after responding to the pressure - this is really the same thing as the rooting/pushing against halter pressure.  So we worked on our backing in hand and our head down with the halter, without him getting a release for bumping/pushing/rooting against the halter, using my hands as a barrier - no pulling - just as I described in this post which is one of a series I've been working on.  The next post in the series, which I need to get done, is about just this sort of stuff - in-hand softening work.  Pie and I did this in short sets, mixed in with leading work.  He was pretty braced at first, especially for the backing - his first effort was to back his feet very nicely while staying completely braced in his head and neck.  We kept trying, and he figured it out and after that I was able to get a couple of repetitions of softer backing, where the feet moved in a relaxed manner and he was able to soften in his head and neck.

Pie's a quick learner, and I think this is the sort of work we'll be doing - making very small adjustments to what is a really solid foundation for such a young horse.

I also worked with him some on picking up his feet - I noticed when I was trying him out that he didn't do this all that readily.  I got the "Pie face" on this one, and although I did get his feet picked, we've got more work to do on this one.

Next we did some "just-standing-around" work - I really like this work.  I think it helps a horse learn to just "be with" you and also builds a relationship where you provide them a safe, calm place.  For a nervous, anxious horse like Dawn, this work, in hand and under saddle, has been critical to building her trust and relaxation.  For Pie, it was to start on building a new relationship - my just spending time being with him is good for that.  I know sometimes it's easy to get into just "doing" things with or to the horse, rather than "being with" the horse - I try to carry that "being with" feeling into all the work and the just-standing-around is a good start on it.  So Pie and I stood on the grass field behind the barn for a bit, with the loose lead draped over my forearm, and just watched what was going on.  If he fidgeted, I let him provided he didn't intrude into my arms'-length space.  He was pretty good about it, but it was clear he wanted to go back to the other horses.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get in a trail ride with Sugar's and/or Scout's owners!

20 comments:

  1. How nice to have a horse that is basically solid and you can get right out on the trails. I think that's extremely cool!

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  3. I agree that even something as basic as leading is very very important. It's actually something I'm constantly reinforcing with Missy. I never let her get away with dragging me around or being "on top of me, " though I prefer that she leads at my shoulder and not behind me-I dislike have to drag her around, and it makes me nervous when she gets behind me, as I feel that if she were to spook at something, her first reaction would be forward. When I stop, Missy stops, non of that getting in front of me crap. I do think, however that where I horse leads is just a matter of preference, and everyone has a different opinion, none of which are necessarily wrong.

    Anyway, Glad you got some ground work in with Pie today, I'm a big advocate on good ground manners, and think a well-rounded horse needs to be good both in the saddle and on the ground!!! I have to say, I'm really liking Pie already!!!

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  4. Sometimes just standing around is the thing to do! What a good boy!

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  5. Nice day ~ actively ~ standing around!
    Getting the"Pie face"is much better than getting Pie in the face!
    He really sounds like a joy. Have a fun trail ride...hope you get to go.
    KK

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  6. Nice post. It sounds like Pie has a solid maturity that you can build on. I like to have my horse at my shoulder when we walk together - as long as they keep the proper distance. I know there are pros and cons to both methods, but that's the one I prefer.

    Keep up the good work.

    Dan

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  7. Good solid work getting him used to the things you want him to do. It's a good start in your bonding process with him too. Hope you and friends have a wonderful ride tomorrow.

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  8. Can't you just tell that this horse is going to be something? What a sweetie Pie.

    Word verification "novel" and he is.

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  9. Kate! I have obviously not been paying attention! I'm so excited for you and for Pie. :)

    Congrats!

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  10. Sounds like a nice days work ,getting to know your horse.I have to say though I teach my horses to lead beside me , shoulder level or slightly back of my hip .If they spook they can and will go where there is nor resitance , and not knock me down, they can in effect run right by(most don't )and as far as turning I have had no problem.I have never been comfortable with horse directly behind me.But we each have different ways, not saying its wrong , just different

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  11. Your horse sounds so nice - remarkably so for a 4 year old.
    I like to spend time just hanging out with my horses too. Rogo in particular likes it when we do that. Sometimes I take a book and read beside their stalls or with them in the pasture. It feels so peaceful!
    By the way, thanks for the feedback on feed - appreciated!

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  12. So wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful. He sounds like such a good natured little Pie! Don't you adore him already? I do. The markings on his face are so interesting! Trail riding on Halloween? May it be all treat and no tricks! Congrats again on your new family member. You have the start of something really wonderful there.

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  13. Quite a guy, that Pie. So level headed.

    Why do some folks prefer the shoulder lead? Just want the horse in their peripheral vision?

    I'm thrilled to hear you'll be trail riding. What kind ofsaddle does he need?

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  14. Way cool! He sounds like he has a really nice attitude. That gives you so much to build on!

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  15. Sounds like you're off to a terrific start. I'm a big believer in just "hanging out" with the horses sometimes (it's the best way to build that relationship don'tcha know ;o)

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  16. Awesome! He sounds delightful! Looks like you are going to make some very quick progress and have heaps of fun along the way!

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  17. So glad you're enjoying him and he's being so good for being in a new place for the first time. He sounds like a great horse to work with. Happy trails!

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  18. Yea..he is a looker and seems like a wonderfully level headed horse to have many fun times on!!!!
    And who doesn't LOVE PIE?! ;)

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  19. I really need to work on leading with some of the young horses around here. They're basically pretty good but do have some holes that need fixing, that's for sure.

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  20. He sounds like such an angel. I'm glad he's doing so well and that you like him so much. :)

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