Saturday, January 7, 2012


Today I had planned to ride Starbuck in the big arena since up to now the previous six rides have been in the roundpen.  My idea was to work a little first to "get the fresh out" then buddy up with Virginia and Coco so that Starbuck could kind of follow Coco around at first, then branch out a little on her own.  But when we got to the tying posts, there were a bunch of people tacking up for a lesson including a fair amount of first-timers and I just didn't feel comfortable taking her out-- I didn't want her going all rodeo and spooking one of the lesson horses.

So after doing some leading work on the "scary" side of the arena, we rode in the roundpen which was fine... nothing wrong with getting just a little better at upward transitions and steering before riding her in a more open area!  Anyhow I can really see our progress which is fantastic-- we were able to maintain a decent walk and transition into trot, first after tapping her shoulder with the crop and then with just leg pressure.  We also achieved two whole circles in trot in each direction, yay!  Here's the video:

On a more philosophical note, I'm really trying to keep in mind what I read on Carolyn Resnick's blog about how to approach training:
"Expecting performance is what ruins a good horse. With every response that a horse offers, he will build upon it until it becomes a habit to perform or behave in that way. A horse builds behaviors bit by bit, day by day and ride by ride. On the days he falls backwards the horse should not be pushed. The simple rule to follow is, always accept what your horse offers even if you have to start at the beginning. Evolution will advance the horse’s training because of the consistency of day by day. Each day I start out by putting my focus on finding the connection and willingness before I ask anything from the horse. What I see often between trainers and the horse, when the halter is being put on, is that neither is paying attention to the other and no time is taken for the greeting ceremony. The greeting ceremony is important. It allows for the magnetic connection to bring you together with your horse. It also gives the time needed for you and your horse to give full attention to your leadership and to bring the herding behavior out in the horse to glue to you.......Here is a tip that you might want to develop when relating to a horse that is ill at ease. When a horse is not connected with you and does not want to be, when he is agitated, unhappy or fearful do not allow this energy to reside in you. Then intentionally create the energy you want the horse to have inside yourself. Feel this new energy deep within you, and this will cause a horse to connect with you and begin to relax. I have used this all my life and it works wonders…"

So far this is working surprisingly well, I mean I'm not surprised it works but by how quickly and completely just keeping this in mind has improved my relationship with Starbuck.  I've really seen how when she gets jittery if I just take a deep breath and relax myself, she picks right up on it and relaxes along with me.  Her spooking is definitely something we still need to work on, especially with the number of kids without any idea about horses running around the stableyard, but I'm really pleased to see that I have that kind of influence on her.  Which makes me think, when I get nervous what kind of energy she picks up on...

Anyhow I'm going to read up on John Lyon's "spook in place" method tonight and I think hobble training will be replaced by spook in place training for the next week or so.  Stay tuned!

No comments: