Monday, January 17, 2011

Developing the Virtues - Pie

This is a follow-on post to my post "Virtues Instead of Actions" and my post on developing Dawn's virtues.

I've had Pie for almost three months now, and we've had a lot of time to interact and I've also gotten in over 30 rides on him so far.  I feel I've got a pretty good handle on who he is, and where we need to go with our work, although his personality/behaviors are still developing due to his young age - he'll be 5 at the end of April.  I'm also extremely fortunate with him, as he's had very good early training and treatment, so no virtues have been repressed or deformed.

Attention.  For a young horse, Pie is very good on this one.  All we really need to do is to work on developing his attention span and ability to concentrate on the work for extended periods.

Patience.  Again, for a young horse, he ranks very high on this one - I think his basic personality is patient.  He already ties well - occasional pawing but really very little of that.  I don't know if he ground ties - I suspect not - so we'll work on that, as well as more just standing around work.

Curiosity/ability to experiment/playfulness.  He is a very curious and playful horse, and also isn't afraid to try things out in response to asks - he isn't afraid of being punished or rushed along like so many horses are due to their "training".  He does have the bad habit of wanting to  play with Scout - his best buddy - when we're out on a ride together - he needs to understand the distinction between "horse time" and "work time" a bit better, but we're working on it.  It might be fun to do some trick training with him using clicker - he's very intelligent and tuned in and it might give him a good outlet for his playfulness.

Forward/impulsion/responsiveness.  He's pretty good on this one too - he's quite responsive to the slightest aids, because that's how he was trained.  And I think as new things are introduced, he'll be responsive to them, too.  He's not a particularly forward horse by disposition - he'd prefer to take things easy - but his responsiveness makes that not an issue.  His throttle is a bit "sticky" right now - he tends to leap into transitions rather than make them smoothly and quietly, but that's going to be pretty easy to adjust.  His forward also seriously lacks impulsion right now since he tends to travel inverted - he just sort of bops along without engaging his core.

Willingness/softness.  Pie is one of those rare horses who's pretty mentally soft already without much physical softness.  As noted above under "forward", he isn't really using his core or relaxing his top line yet - this is going to be our big task for this spring and summer.  It's going to be hard work for him and will gradually change his posture and muscling.  I also need to more consistently do carrot stretching with him to help him relax his top line muscles.  I don't think this work with him will be hard - it'll just take time and consistency on my part.  Working on this will also develop his patience and attention.

Kindness/sociability.  He's a very kind and sociable horse, without being a mooch or pushy - just about perfect on this front.  He still needs to learn that he can enjoy the work we do together - our relationship is still being built.

Calmness/relaxation.  He already ranks high on this one.  He's a horse who can get excited or spooked - any horse can and he's only 4, but he's basically level-headed and calms down pretty quickly if something bothers him.  His normal is calm and relaxed.  All he needs on this one is continued exposure to new situations, and lots of trail miles, including on new trails.

Self-confidence.  For a young horse, he's very self-confident and assured.  He never doubts that he can figure things out or handle a situation.  This fits in well with his basic inclination to be calm and patient.  It is possible to feel calm and reassured just being around him - he just radiates those traits.  As with calmness, in order to continue to develop this virtue, I just need to continue to expose him to new situations and learning opportunities, and give him adequate time to try out things as he learns so his confidence continues to build.  I'd like to get him some cattle work as well - he's already done this and it would be a great continuing confidence-builder.

Trust/trustworthiness/supportiveness.  This is one we'll work on together as our relationship develops.  He's already shown that he can trust - he'd done very little riding out alone with his prior owner, and he's already done quite a bit of that with me.  I just need to continue to demonstrate that I'm trustworthy, and to trust him as well, and this will come right along.

Easy as Pie!

16 comments:

  1. Pie is just perfect! We all need a Pie like your Pie at our farms! Enjoy him up - 30 rides already! Amazing!

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  2. Hi Kate! I've just caught up on this series, the virtues, and am really enjoying it! What a neat way to think about our horses and to put their actions, responses, preference, or what have you into perspective. Hope you don't mind if I steal the idea for Panache and maybe even Rex. :)

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  3. Pie seems like he's very mature for his age. From what I've read about hm over the last 3 months, he seems like he is a pretty confident guy when you give him the reassurance he needs. He seems like he's definitely level-headed and calm and doesn't get upset over the small stuff. Your lucky to have such a young horse with such a great personality. A rare jewel...

    By the way, I know in2paints beat me to it, but just the same, there's an award for you on my blog, because I love reading yours...

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  4. Pie has so many good attributes for a horse his age he can only get better. Then again he's almost perfect right now so the minor things he's got to work on shouldn't be too hard for him to achieve.

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  5. Three months already!! Wow! And you've gotten so many quality rides in on Pie in that brief (and wintry) time. He seems like a perfect "retirement" horse for you--Drifter has big hoof prints to fill. And you have Dawn for the little challenges that we all need. (BTW, what's the timeline for your daughter "reclaiming" Dawn, full-time? End of college?)

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  6. Pie sounds very much like my boy Ace. biggest different is in the self-confidence department. Ace gets a little upset when learning something new and he doesn't understand what I'm asking. Once it clicks in his brain though, he gets it forever. It's like he says "Ohhh! So THAT'S what you wanted. I get it. Let's do it again!"

    Getting to know them and all these personality quirks is my most favorite thing about being with horses.

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  7. Loving these virtues installments!

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  8. EvenSong - I don't know when or if my daughter will reclaim Dawn. My daughter loves big cities - like NYC - and I could see her spending this part of her life without horses and then maybe coming back to them later in life like I did - but who knows? For now, I'm assuming I've got Dawn on a permanent basis.

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  9. He sounds a lot like my boy, you gotta love those level-headed quarter horses!

    Please post in detail about your work getting him to relax his topline and engage his core. Coriander travels in the same way and I'm interesting in learning as many ways as possible to teach him how to carry me effectively.

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  10. Your posts always put my brain in gear! I love your 'report card' sand Pie sure sounds like a straight A student! I'm going to use your list of virtues and take a serious/objective look at my own guys. Thanks!

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  11. I really appreciate this list. As I was reading it, I naturally was reviewing my own horse's virtues. Agree with smazourek, it would be wonderful to hear your methods for developing topline/core strength.

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  12. Wow--three months--time flies. It's amazing you got so many rides in during the holidays, too! Sounds like you've got a very good handle on him!

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  13. It is so refreshing to have a baby that is still so virtuous and happy isn't it?

    Pie is naturally kind and social but hypothetically how could a human influence this virtue? Bodhi is also one of the most kind horses I have ever worked with but I am just curious :) I wonder if this trait is more influenced by the horses in their lives? I am a firm believer in good equine role models for young horses as well.

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  14. I think Pie is amazing for his age, and on top of that he had a great start. He seems like such a gem.

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  15. Kate, Such an interesting list of virtues, and Pie is such a great horse! Like others who commented, I'll look forward to reading more about how you develop some of these in Pie. You really have a thoughtful, thorough approach to these things!

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  16. I am really loving the virtues! Can I link any of your blog pages to mine, they are just really amazing and I would like to share with the people who read my blog! Even though it does not look like I have a lot of readers, I post my blog to facebook and get comments that way, they don't leave them on my blog.

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