Saturday, August 6, 2011

Setting Boundaries and Another Bolt

I managed to ride Dawn and Drift today - it was too buggy to ride Pie on the trail.  Dawn was fairly up after her bolt and buck experience two days ago, despite how hot it was today.  She settled down to work fairly well, although she did a lot of looking at another one of those lawn waste bags (the same type that had scared her) that had been abandoned by the goat house.  We did more transition work and some shortening/lengthening work, and it was all very good.

Drift and I had to do some boundary-setting today.  He's a very friendly and lovable horse, but will cross lines and even do some pushing back if I'm not careful to set boundaries and abide by them consistently.  He was extremely dominant with other horses in the pasture, and now that he's in solo turnout I have to be careful not to let him try to dominate me. I clearly haven't been quite as consistent as I should be with his keeping his distance from me when leading and also his immediately moving out of my space when I move towards him.  I had to get fairly big with him a few times to get him to move backwards out of my space, but we got there and then he was rewarded with lots of rubs and praise.  I've also been working with him in the stall on his moving out of my space both with hand gestures and also in response to hand pressure - he came to me as a horse that moved into rather than away from pressure and it took some work to get this reversed.  I also got a cow kick when girthing - there's no physical reason for this, he was just being petulant, so he got a smart slap and a verbal reprimand.  I also undid the girth and redid it to be sure I'd make my point, and he was fine.

His ridden work was very good - the softening at the walk and trot was good, and there was not a single attempt to balk.  We did have some excitement - we were trotting down the long side away from the adjacent pasture when Scout came pounding up from the back of the pasture - Drift spooked and bolted but went right back to work when I got him stopped after five or so leaps.  There was no bucking, which was a good thing - I can usually ride a straight-ahead bolt, although Drift is very fast, but bucking (a la Dawn) is pretty chancy.  I was pleased with how well he came back after that, and he also got the chance to ride in the ring with Charisma when she came back from a trail ride and he was very good for that.

I've ordered some Cashel's bug armor and a long nose with ears ride mask (at Jean's recommendation) for Pie's trail rides and can't wait until it comes - for less than $100 including shipping that seems like a good deal to me.  Cashel also makes a nose net for riding that can help horses with head-shaking syndrome.


  1. You are getting the combination of gear for bug protection. I have done some serious dressage schooling with my horses in bug armor and it works just fine.

    Best is that is also keeps the B52's at bay. With my Boys that's a matter of my survival as two of them will buck if attacked by those big biters.

    Riding out those bolts should boost your confidence. Moments like that, you forget your nervousness and just start to really ride. Nice to hear that Drift settles back down so quickly after the excitement.

  2. Sounds like you are well back in the swing of things and enjoying working with the horses Drift is going to be working for his pay I bet

  3. Well, you're getting a real workout with your horses so soon after your injury...I suppose there are pros and cons with that. I have had to use more bug spray than I ever have before this year--I think the predators are finally starting to catch up with the bloodsuckers, but it's taken a lot longer than usual this year.

    My old mare was obviously also "trained" to ignore or lean into people, and I was shocked at how much pressure it took when I first got her to get her out of my space. I'll probably always be "reminding" her, too. Her former pasture mate was so bad about bulldozing people he couldn't really even lead. I wish more folks understood how dangerous a horse like that can be.

  4. Drift reminds me of my Paint, Fritzy. I have put in a lot of ground work with her and it has taken quite awhile to get her to back away from pressure. But I also attribute that to her being a very slow learner.
    I will probably have some bolting with Brandy this week on our Pony Cousin trip. She has only been ridden once this year due to weather and lameness and she is probably going to be a handful. But I am up for the challenge!

  5. Jean and Kate - the bug armor thing. Do you think that "one size" will fit my draft?

    Kate - so happy you are back into the swing of things and riding actively every day.

  6. I learn so much from reading your blog. I realized that my guys could benefit from 'lots of transition' work! Doc tries to plow the ground with his nose - I believe it is a resistance move - he begins with his head at a nice level, then as we progress, he begins to pull down. (My hands are quite light and I only have the lightest of contact, using a Kimberwicke with a short port) So.... as soon as he begins that move, I have begun to ask for a transition. Do you think I'm right in doing so?

  7. As you can imagine, I have the nose net. Up to now I haven't ridden with it because just the riding mask had fixed Cowboy's head-shaking problem until the other day.

    Drift sounds like he's getting a bit full of himself in solo turnout. That's too bad...makes your work a little harder. :/

  8. Jeni - don't know if it'd fit a draft or not - you might want to contact the company for measurements.

    Dreaming - for a horse that seriously leans, you might want to start with turns to help with softening, making sure to keep the impulsion from the front end - keep turning until you get softening and only then go straight. If the horse is already doing a lot of leaning and doesn't know how to soften, it may be hard to do transitions without using your hands too much, which will defeat the purpose. Once the horse understands what softening's about and can do it fairly consistently, then transitions can be very helpful to fine tune and help the horse step under.

    Linda - Drift sometimes reminds me of a teenage boy - always testing limits and sometimes a bit petulant or sulky. The bad news is that now that he's just got me to interact with, he tries some things on with me he might try with another horse - space stuff, nipping - but the good news is that he's also less distracted and more able to concentrate on work - so a mixed bag.

  9. Dreaming - I meant to say "impulsion from the hind end", not front end.


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