Progressing with Baby Steps

Big Guy continues to impress me. I guess it’s age but he seems to have a Vast Quietness about him now. He sees, considers, and decides … nothing is in a rush or crazy.

Today was my third ride and we continue to progress in babysteps. First, he stood calmly while I mounted. When we were at the Hell Farm he’d dance all over the place and I can’t help but think he felt my impatience and anger (not at him) as well as the overall tension at the Farm.

Even at 3HF though he would dance about so maybe he is telling me in HorseTalk that he is ready to proceed under a rider…

All we did was walk but I had a whip today. That was to give him the go-forward reinforcement when he drops behind the bit. Going behind the bit is a behavior he learned/trained to do prior to him coming to be with me. I had developed a training method to rectify this, had rectified it, and then when he didn’t get ridden consistently he reverted back to his old ways.

This is how it works: he drops behind, I urge him forward with my leg, if he doesn’t respond (generally not), then he gets a firm tap to go forward. Going behind the bit generally comes from a lazy hind end (trailing legs, dawdling etc…) so wrestling around with the head is not going to solve this problem.

He responded quite well to this and started really stepping under himself. Last fall he was still hesitant to do (approx 10 months post fracture). However, this will take several to many rides to get his response to be consistent after the request. I am not deluding myself here that yes, indeed we are taking babysteps.

Another part of the equation is I am looking for him to lift his back and use it. When a horse is leaning on the bit, going behind the bit, and trailing the hindquarters they certainly are not using their back! LOL!

This is taking from the French school idea of lifting from the top side of the neck and withers. It’s a really exciting thing to play around with (yes, probably as exciting as watching paint dry to you – but fascinating to me!) and we are sorting that out too in our halts and then walk-ons.

I thought I might try some trot tomorrow – then we get hit by rain on Friday. I’m just hoping it doesn’t make the arena too muddy as I would love to ride again this weekend – I’m loving that arena!

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