Z in review (as things stand)

Probably due to injuries and the unrelenting heat, but I have been very unmotivated to post about Z and what has been going on. However, I need to push through that and get some thoughts down in blogland so I can have it for future reference and help me think through some stuff.

When I saw Z down at RH on the day we picked her up, she went very well under Molly. It gave me a lot of hope that things would work out between her and I. While her trotting was rushed, she settled it seemed to me to a nicer rhythm then I was expecting this early on in her training.

When I got over to Molly’s to work her, I was rather disappointed that I saw some ground behaviors that I did not like and can only assume were picked up at RH or was due to her excitement of the new place. Specifically, the jigging about when being tied. That was not going on with her before she left and I had worked hard for it NOT to develop. I also was told by Molly she got all wrapped up and in trouble when she pulled back (I was not there) and again, pulling back had never happened with me.

That is frustrating to know and will be a behavior I will want to vanish extremely quickly from her. This dancing about, swinging her butt, going forward and back, during saddling is a major pain in the butt as well as dangerous, especially considering my weakened body state at this time.

The other major disappointment is that Z is not relaxed at trot. I didn’t really expect RH to address this as he is a green-horse trainer who gets them under saddle and gets them going forward. That is why I sent her and I perfectly understand it. What I had hoped though was that after 90 days she would be a bit more relaxed then what she is.

I also noticed that she is testing me with a bit of obnoxious, pony pocket behavior and I reprimanded her immediately. I want to explain a bit about this because it may be confusing to an outsider… when I bought Z at 18 months old it was a Grand Experiment. I had never dealt with a horse this young before and I was, after 30 years into horses, interested in seeing what a blank slate, young horse was like.

I deliberately made the decision to go with a Natural Horsemanship philosophy that would use no punitive “reward” for undesired behavior. It quickly became evident that due to her genetics (alpha mother) and attitude (dominant) this was going to be impossible to stick too. I tried for a year and all that happened was that my husband got kicked in the face!

While I thought the experiment of using these types of non-pressure training was interesting it simply didn’t work for this horse. The last year before Z left for RH, I became far more assertive about what I would allow or not allow with her. I made sure she knew that she had to approach me in a certain way and was not allowed to be in my close space without an invitation or manners.

Now she has come back and is testing again. I think with RH she learned she couldn’t get away with it – so no I don’t think RH taught her this. I think this is what she will NATURALLY DO whenever she is in a NEW SITUATION. It’s the kid continually asking grandma for a cookie! So we’ve gone backwards on this and when I go out this week, we’ll be re-establishing the Way the World Works.

None of these aren’t issues that I can’t correct or work with. And overall I am pleased with what was accomplished at RH over the last 90 days. She has truly come a long way.

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