Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dawn Squares the Circle, Drifter Stands and Pie Stretches Out

Dawn and I had a nice work session this morning.  We one-line ground drove at the walk and trot, with some halts thrown in for good measure.  We did an exercise I call "square the circle" - I set four cones in a big rectangle, and we go straight along the edges, with turns around the cones.  We did lots of transitions, mostly off my body language, with a voice command as a secondary cue.  She was great - very relaxed.  It was too cold today to take her sheet and fleece off to saddle up, but as soon as we get a day above 40F, we'll be riding.  She did look the slightest bit off at the trot - right hind and left front - I think her age (she's almost 14) and her acrobatics may be catching up with her a bit - it looked more like an arthritic thing, maybe hock.  I'll keep an eye on it and see if she warms up out of it.

Drifter worked hard today for almost an hour.  We had started our work session when the other horses got turned out - this was very exciting.  I let him go so he could run, and then we did some free lungeing - he does this pretty well.  It's not something I usually teach my horses, but since he knows how to do it we can make use of it.  It was a good way for him to burn off some energy and also to start responding to my body language.  We did some tying work - he doesn't pull back but he doesn't tie well either - he fusses and paws.  All we did was to tie for a few minutes - he would paw and then I would stand there and wait.  As soon as he stopped pawing, I praised him.  We did this for a little bit - this is going to take more work.  As an experiment, I ground tied him to groom him - he actually ground tied pretty well.  Then I saddled him - no problem - and bridled - he opened his mouth for the bit although he didn't much like the Rockin' S snaffle so I took it off again.  We lunged for a minute in the dressage saddle - I wasn't sure how he'd react to the stirrups flopping around as I expect he's only ever been in a Western saddle - and that was OK.

And then we spent a long time working on coming up to the mounting block and standing for mounting. As those of you who followed the great horse search may remember, when I visited him in the fall, he didn't stand at all well for mounting and his owner spent about 15 minutes chasing him all over the arena with the mounting block before she finally trapped him against the fence and got on.  We progressed pretty well - I just used a halter and lead - in very small increments, and with lots of praise and a restful walk around with every bit of progress, until we got to the point where he was coming up and standing right next to me at the block, letting me fuss with the saddle and lean across it.  The part that was hardest was the next bit - he wanted to move as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup - I doubt he's ever stood still for mounting in his life and he expects to immediately move off.  It took a while, but we finally got a couple of good repetitions of him standing for me to bounce my weight in the stirrup, and that's where we stopped for the day.

And then Pie and I had a lovely, long, relaxing trail ride with Charisma, mostly walking but with a bit of trotting.  Pie led the way for most of the ride, and his walk was much more forward and he was stretching down quite a bit - very nice.

It was a lovely day with horses - now if the temperatures would just get above 40F . . .


  1. Great horse day x 3. Nice work :)
    I vote for higher temps too!

  2. Sounds like you are making great progress with everyone! --and in cold weather, too.

  3. I'm amazed at how much riding you're getting in. All three are so different, too. Sounds like good, and important, work with Drifter today.

  4. What is it with this cold weather??? And now we're going to have some more snow...just a bit here, but north of me, a real snowstorm! Yuck.

    Anyhoooo....way to go. Dawn may be a little arthritic, but she doesn't sound as if it will be a big issue. I say that mostly because she seems to really want to work. Nice exercise. I use the "square circle" concept to teach riders to actually ride a real circle.

    Drifter is showing a surprisingly "young" horse attitude. I had expected him to be a little more seasoned with things, but you are doing a fine job with him. Looking at his trot, I am thinking he has a ton of potential and athletic ability. Nice horse.

    As for Pie, what can I say? How nice is it to have a good solid horse under you and a good ride ahead of you? Gotta love him.

  5. The work with Dawn and Drifter sounds good. Dusty used to do the same thing at the mounting block, the minute you got her to stand still for mounting and put your foot in the stirrup she would take off. It takes time but eventually with a lot of patience we fixed this. I guess his owner didn't work with him much. He sounds like he's used to getting his own way, but only because he wasn't taught to do it properly.

    Isn't it nice to have Pie waiting in the wings for a reliable ride. Good Boy Pie!

  6. I love that you are getting so much time with the three horses...they are so lucky to have such a kind and consistent person to learn from! I'd love to see more pictures of Drifter!
    Smooches to the herd,
    Sue and the crew

  7. Kate, what is one-rein longing? I've never heard that expression.

  8. Muddy K - I should have said "one-line ground driving" and I've made that correction. I make a distinction between lungeing - where the horse moves in a circle around you, and ground-driving, where you use two lines and move with the horse and do various figures. I sometimes do a hybrid of that - I'm only using one line, but I'm moving with the horse and we can do various turns and figures - but since I have only one line, the turns are in only one direction - you can get fancy and do inside turns and change direction and I sometimes do that to. Even when I lunge in what is pretty much a circle, I move with the horse - I don't stand still in the middle.


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