Archive for May, 2007

PostHeaderIcon Sue- How Do You Do at Trail Ride Clinic?

Finally the long awaited trail ride clinic was here. It was postponed for bad weather nearly a month ago and the wait was fretting.

Is Sue ready to ride with other horses out in the open?

We spent the morning engaged in getting horses used to scary things outside. Most horses in the clinic weren’t scared of anything.

Sue and I got to circle with two and then three other horses. When we circled with the three horses, she became noticiably more relaxed. However, when we were circling with two horses, she was behind a slower horse and put her mouth on his rear several times to get him to hurry. I was amazed at that. We were also amazed that the lead horse didn’t kick…a good horse to be behind on a trail ride.

I rode Sue in the arena. I got another great suggestion from Jenny to calm Sue down. When she gets bothered by something, she owns her hindquarters. So we spent a lot of time trotting by the fence, stopping and disengaging. I didn’t realize how much Sue was keeping her hindquarters to herself. This game made Sue nervous and I kept owning her hindquarters. So it was another right brain/left brain game.
We did great in the arena with all the horses zipping around us. We did go outside the arena, but we came right back in.
The outdoor arena had a water obstacle mud puddle. Sue walked right into it and even thought about drinking some of the water. She is a TRAIL HORSE!

To start the afternoon off, we played a scary game of “Go Through the Towers”. We stacked barrels, put a pole on the top of the barrels and hung a tarp on the pole. the horse had to walk thru the barrels with the tarp obscuring the view unless he lowered his head.

We also played the catastrophe game. Jenny rode around with a plastic bag on a carrot stick and shook it. Our job was to face the scary thing.

Tony did an amazing demonstration of how the horse reacts when something jumps out of the bush. He allowed his horse to leap about 5 feet sideways and let him run off. We were all very impressed. Some people missed it, so he repeated it. It wasn’t near as good as the first time, but it was good. Then we watched as he fixed the fear.

Finally it was outdoor trail ride time. We followed Jenny and disengaged and backed our horses when she did. We walked around 20 acres of the field doing this. Sue and I were last. She wanted to pass the horses in front of her. She wanted to go with the wind. Instead, we stayed a horse length behind.

After we did that, we were allowed to go on our own. We got to ride at a walk or a trot for 20 steps then stop and back.
After a while Sue and I got with two other horses. We would all pass one another, but we stayed together as a group. That was great for Sue.

Not once did Sue bolt. She was nervous. She flinched a couple of times from something behind her.

I can ride Sue outside now alone or with a group of natural riders!
I can hardly wait!!!

PostHeaderIcon Sue- How Do You Do with New Horse Friends?

Sue and I attended a Problem Horse clinic. It was a nice day and we were outside. We had about 9 horses in the clinic and while there was enough space…it really wasn’t enough space for SUE, until..

Jenny selected three horses that had varying degrees of unconfidence. We were told to have our horses be as close as possible and play the games. We circled the horses with the humans standing back to back. We didn’t pass the rope, we just kept our own horse. At first we trotted and amazingly, it went really well.

We disengaged the horses and they all turned to face us. We decided to see how close we could get them to stand together. After some shifting around, they were standing right next to each other. Sue wasn’t bothered. That was amazing as she is terrified of strange horses.

Then we decided to see if we could get them to canter…not an easy task for Sue. But it worked out really well. At first Sue thought they were all chasing her so she was going really fast. We stopped and dwelled for a time and they were really comfy…amazingly, Sue was sandwiched between the two other horses. no problem.

We decided to side-pass. What an extreme friendly game experience that was. Sue had me and two other people raising carrot sticks up and down. She did fine. They stood side by side. We humans were in front of them and we side-passed one way and back the other way. Dwell.

We cantered again. This time Sue was a lot more relaxed. The gelding behind her thought she was going too slow and nipped her rear. She tried to kick at him. They were cantering while doing this. what fun

We stopped and formed a line head to tail. The human was in front of each horse, then the next human and horse etc. We backed in a circle.

We played the squeeze game at a fence. The horses were nose to tail. We humans were lined up at the fence. When the last horse went thru the squeeze, we all stopped, turned and faced each human.

While we were dwelling side by side, we humans kept questing for new ideas on what to do. We decided to place an extreme friendly game. On of us humans handed her rope to another human and skipped around the horses. No reaction.

Then the two of us on the outside tried to play the friendly game with stick and string touching all three horses. no reaction.
One of us got a stick and plastic bag and went behind the horses. The middle horse was nervous at that. So the human played approach and retreat. The horse was able to calm down and gain courage from his bored partners.
We were just ready to try another idea when time up was called.
We rode outdoors and indoors for the rest of the day. Sue was able to be outside and inside in the group. She got nervous, but was able to hold it together.

At the end of the day when every one’s observations was requested, all of us with the three horses commented that this exercise made a big to huge difference in how our horses reacted to things the rest of the day. In fact, it was bordering on amazing. Each of us had different reasons why that exercise had helped our horse. One horse was spooky to new things and formerly scared of other horses. The other horse was impulsive scared…he went right brain really fast. That exercise brought back the left brain much faster during the riding portion of the clinic. And there is Sue…she has a football field size bubble for other horses….twiddled down to inches in the morning.



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