Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Working on a Dream Trot

I have been trotting Cole Train a lot on our solo rides, and he is doing much better. Sometimes he gets a bit excited and goes really, really fast, but he is no longer breaking into a canter.

It was time to work on trotting with other horses. Ellen and I did have a few training rides last fall before the big freeze shut us down, so we had a starting point.

On the day we wanted to introduce dual trotting, it rained and the river was too high to cross. That only gave us the hill to work on. At the bottom of the hill, before we cross the river, there is a nice flat, albeit, short section of trail. I had spent some time trotting Cole on it by himself, and he understood stopping at the end.

Ellen had the brilliant idea of teaching him to heel to Ranger—just like I taught him to heel to me. We decided that we would not allow Cole to go beyond Ellen’s leg. We first tried it at a walk—clicking when he arrived to the spot and stayed there for a few moments. (Ranger was clicked and treated, too.) Then we increased the length. After 4-5 tries, we tried it at a trot. It worked like magic. We practiced it many times for about 10 minutes, and gradually increased the length of trotting.

The next day, we were able to cross the river and work where we had more trail. The only time we had trouble was when Ranger would slow down, and Cole didn’t adjust his speed and passed him up. No one would get clicked, and I would turn Cole right around and do it again. Ellen figured out that she needed to keep Ranger at a steady speed for us to be successful, and it worked. We did some parts of the trail twice for practice.

We went through a lot of carrot pieces, but we had such fantastic success. My greatest challenge with Cruiser for all these years, is to keep him behind another horse when we trot or canter. He loves to be in the lead. Of course, so does Ranger. Ranger even made a game of slowing down so Cruiser would start to pass—and then he would speed up himself to race. Eventually, Ranger learned that when Cruiser passed, we would be stopping, soon, and turned that into a game, too. Now if we trotted with Cruise in the front and Ranger following, often Ranger was worse than Cruiser. It’s tough when both horses want to lead.

The next time we were able to ride together, we had our youngest niece on Ranger. Ellen rode Cruiser. Of course, I was on Cole. We tried to trot a couple times, but Ranger stopped when Cole got close to him; anticipating a click.

Then following day, Ellen and I took them up to our very favorite trails by the show ring. We had another fruitful ride. The following weekend, we took them up there, and we had a new development. Cole didn’t trot up to Ranger’s side, but seemed content to follow about 10 feet behind. This was fine with us. It actually made it easier. I adjusted what I was doing. When he would get to the right distance behind Ranger, I would simply slow him down with the reins. When he responded, I immediately released. I actually think this might be what I was teaching him when I was working on heeling to Ranger, because when he got to the desired position, I slowed him down with the reins, released and then he got clicked for staying there. We did a lot of trotting on that ride and even trotted a fair distance towards home.

It seemed that in a short while, he became easier to trot with Ranger than Cruiser is. I’m looking forward to the time when I will be doing this lesson at a canter.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

You're doing such a great job with him! :D