Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flying Dirt

It seems that pastures are all gone for the summer, which means that Halo and her friends are now confined to their dry lot. Despite the heat, that means Halo has exponentially more energy! I took her out and longed her last night with the bareback pad on. She was very hyper, and wanted to go, go, go. She did buck some at the canter, but I pushed her forward. Fortunately, it didn't take much cantering in the heat to decide that maybe listening to me so that she could stop was a good idea.

After 15 minutes or so of that, we moved into the round pen. I took off her halter and did some free-longeing work. I wanted to see if I could get her to do rollbacks on the fenceline. Sure enough, she can roll back. I had her do it once or twice each direction and then stopped. I don't want to push the issue since a) she was very good about it, b) it was hot out, and c) it's tough on her hocks to do a lot of that. I didn't get the best pictures, but it was beginning to get dark outside. Still, you can see all the dirt she sent flying.

This second picture is really odd. I think I caught her post-roll back at the point where she was launching out of the turn.

And here she is as I'm sending her out at a walk to cool off a little bit.

After this I slipped on her sidepull, did about five minutes of walking/steering from the ground, and then I bit the bullet and jumped on. I wore my helmet this time! We worked on the very basic concepts of walk, stop, and back. We did some turning through the middle of the pen, but mostly walked around the perimeter. As long as she was moving forward where I pointed her nose, I stayed completely off her face. I want her to have a relaxed frame. I think too much contact was a mistake I made with the first horse I started. He was very well-behaved, but didn't stretch down as easily or as much as he should have. Hopefully I can avoid that pitfall with Halo.

She was fantastic! She had typical baby moments of wanting to toss her head while backing, but she quickly figured out that if she lowered her head and backed I would immediately release pressure. We only backed up one or two steps at a time - just enough to let her know that she was doing the correct thing. Then we'd release and stand for a few moments before picking up the walk. To keep things clear, I tried to pause between each thing I asked of her so that each action was definitive. We would walk, whoa, wait a moment, back, whoa, wait a moment, and then walk again. As I said before, she was wonderful.

Afterwards she got hosed off and walked for a little bit, and then got her dinner. She was a happy filly, and I was a happy horse mom.


Kate said...

Focussing on forward first with a baby is a great idea - too many people rush getting into a frame or asking for softening. A baby needs to develop muscles and endurance to be able to do those things, and Halo isn't there yet under saddle. Good for you and her!

spazfilly said...

Thanks! I'm trying to be a much more reflective trainer than I was before. This blog helps a great deal. I agree that it is hugely important to start with forward. If she goes and stops politely, the rest will fall into place. I think it's a huge mistake to try and jam a baby into a headset right off the bat. They'll eventually do it naturally if they're using their bodies correctly. It's the same reason I don't believe in draw reins, martingales, or tie downs, especially not with a young horse. I can see having to use it with a horse that has already developed a serious issue, but not with a baby. Train 'em right and you'll never need it! *steps off soapbox* :)