Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Night Ride with Starry

Cole Train has been doing very well with his morning weekend rides, but each time I take him out in the evenings, he gives me a challenging ride. I haven’t done it that much, and that may be part of the problem. Our other horses have always seemed more hyper in the evenings. It is possible that he just needs to get used to it. I decided to try to get him out at least once a week until I run out of daylight to ride both horses on the trail after work.

Yesterday evening, I took Cruiser for a quick ride in the rain. It was a really hot day, so the light rain felt good. When I got back, Kevin was there. I saddled Cole up for an indoor arena ride, and then it stopped raining. I quickly changed my mind, grabbed the bug spray and invited Kevin and Starry to go along with us.

Since the bugs have been driving Starry crazy, Kevin hasn’t been riding with me in the evenings. Starry does better earlier in the day. This would be Starry’s first evening ride since some time in May, and the first time Cole has ever gone on a ride with another horse in the evening. Also, I planned to try some trotting—the first time with any horse other than Ranger.

I told Kevin that if the deerflies get really bad, we could turn around early. Well they did get bad, but Kevin didn’t give up.

We did some trotting. Even though Kevin couldn’t slow Starry down to the speed we have been practicing with Ranger, Cole didn’t pass him or try to canter. He just trotted along until I would click because he was being so good that I couldn’t resist clicking.

So, what did Kevin learn? That when I click, we stop so I could give Cole a treat. I would tell Kevin we were clicking, and he just kept going. Fortunately, when he stopped, Cole politely trotted up to Starry.

What did Cole learn? If Starry starts to prance, trot off, canter off or throw a temper tantrum because the bugs are bothering him, that he is to keep doing whatever he is doing and not pay any attention to the big buckskin’s antics. We had a lot of chances to practice this lesson. Each time, Cole was perfect, and each time I clicked him for it—to encourage more perfect behavior in the future. One thing I like about clicker is that it is so much more effective than just saying “good boy.” Even the time when Starry blasted past us at his fast trot to get away from the bugs, Cole just walked quietly. In other words, Cole did better than Cruiser would have in the same circumstances. I was elated.

We walked on the way home with Cole in the lead and Starry following. The lead horse seems to get the brunt of the deerflies, and though Cole doesn’t like them, he is more tolerant than Starry. Starry calmed down, and we had a nice trip home.

What did I learn? That I have a very special horse. Cole was good when Starry acted up. When Kevin would start to trot before I was ready, Cole didn’t trot until I told him to. In fact, Cole always waits for me to tell him to trot instead of following what the other horses do. I have a horse that pays attention to me instead of his riding companions.

I’m not sure how this happened. It could be because I have zero tolerance to unrequested gait changes—but that never made a difference with Cruiser. Maybe it is because when I ride in the indoor arena, which could be very hectic, I made him stand whenever doors were opened, horses were led through, people pushed wheelbarrows by or whatever. Maybe he learned stillness among chaos. Maybe it is because we practice transitions so much or maybe it is all of it put together. Regardless, I love it. Considering that Cole is a young and very spirited horse, it is wonderful.

Thank you Kevin and Starry for a wonderful ride.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

That is so awesome! I'm going to try to make Chrome that way because I can't stand horses who try to follow the others. I was riding with friends the other day and she had trained her horses to follow the lead horse at whatever gait she went because they were for inexperienced riders. It was so annoying!!