So this tuesday, I admit….I got distracted again. I just HAD to get my veggies planted and build a raised bed and mow the pasture. Its gonna rain tomorrow after all and this stuff just HAS to get done!
But I stuck to the plan to play with Bogie. You remember him….he dumped me last week, when his saddle became unpredictable. Anyway, we warmed up with some hindquarter and forequarter yields….he is soft as butter. Then I tested out our friendly game…which is broken. Alot of crazy running and drunken sailor behavior from me, only to softly rub him. He got it pretty quickly, since we have done this before. Horses need to remember that ‘not everything means do something’. Then we played around with squeezing over a jump. Note here: Bogie has never jumped anything that I am aware of. I made a gap for him to walk through…after all, it wasn’t about jumping…it was about problem solving. There are several parts to the squeeze game….send (to the ‘problem’), allow (them to try), turn, face and back a step (to await further instruction). I was simply looking at the parts to see what was working and what wasn’t. This was more of an evaluation session. All lights were green. Of course….. he jumped the barrel….on his own, bypassing the escape route I had left him. He was very smug about it.
Next, I added a 22 foot line (along with my lead) and swung the 22 over his neck/back on the off side. As I asked him to move around, carrying the 22 foot line, it became apparent that he was totally unconfident about simply having a rope over his back. Duh…no wonder riding him feels like a crap shoot. So I simply moved him around flipping the 22 around over his back. He responded by moving his feet, first faster and faster, then he experimented with walking calmly…..hmmm. Is this a trick? We ended our session with him carrying the rope over his back at a walk, with his head down. It seemed such pitiful progress, given I had been roping cattle off this horse last fall, but it IS WHAT IT IS…..he is the horse he is today.
One thing I am really paying attention to this year is his state of mind. Slowing things way down…..waiting for him to process, by licking and chewing or yawning. I am really intrigued by Martin Black’s work “Evidence Based Horsemanship”, and I think this might be the key to his long term retention of some of this work. Its easy to get fast paced with an extroverted horse. But sometimes they are physically extroverted and mentally introverted, like Bogie…so the feet move before the brain kicks in. If you don’t wait for the thinking part to show up and process, you miss the learning opportunity (and they just learn to move their feet). I will continue to work toward driving him, though doubt I would ever hook him to a vehicle. The stepping stones to driving will, however, make him a safer riding horse and a problem solver….which is all I ever want from my horse partners.
Photo is from last June. Taken at Ladd Farm, by Coco….I love the picture, as it captures my intent to communicate with this horse. It takes timing and feel and concentration. I get it wrong more than I get it right…