Monday, March 14, 2011

Finally rode outside!

The snow that we got on Friday started melting Saturday mornign. It was still too icy on the drive to think of taking to horses outside, so I worked them in the indoor arena, again.

I decided it was time to get tough with Cole. I decided that the increase in spooking and bolting the last few weeks was not due to fear. There was no trace of panic in his actions. It was time to deal with it. He decided to test me in the first few minutes. I asked him to do a halt to walk transition, and he took off to his barn door. Instead of being scared, myself, I kept him moving when he got there, and once we made the turn, I started to spin him in tiny circles. Horses hate the tiny spin.

From experience, when I have tried to extinguish a behavior with punishment, I know that it won’t take once. It seems that the horses want to test and see if the same thing will happen if they try it again. The second time was as bad as the first, after that, each time got better and the last time (the seventh) was very half hearted. Whenever he behaved, I clicked him. He kept getting better through the ride.

I wasn’t sure if I was handling the situation correctly, though it worked when Mingo went through that stage—and it helped Cruiser when he was an overly spooky baby horse. (Though I do think it was fear with Cruiser, most of the time. I just needed to control him.)

Good news. On Sunday, though he wasn’t perfect, he didn’t once try to spook or bolt. Rather, he was mostly cooperative. We even worked on end of the arena where he has been particularly bad.

After a half hour, I took the saddle off and we worked on outside manners. We did leading and stopping. He was excited to be outside on the driveway, but he only acted up twice, and I just held the rope steady. After that, he was perfect. Soon, I will take him on a walk on the trail.

Speaking of trail, my sister and I rode Cruiser and Ranger on the hill. There was snow halfway down, and since Cruiser has shoes, we had to turn back at that point. We did back and forth 3 times and then worked on the driveway. It was so nice to be working outside. Both horses had an A+ ride. I will be doing the same, tonight. I hope more of the snow is melted.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Awesome for working Cole through his shenanigans! They're sometimes just like kids. You can tell them and tell them not to touch the stove, but sometimes they have to touch that hot stove to really understand what you've been saying. After you work him through this, next time he'll be more likely to take your word for it. Just be consistent and this will eventually be a distant memory. :) And yay for finally getting outside! Spring is almost here.