Thursday, May 28, 2015
A Rainy Evening with the Horses--It was Still Fun
Kevin and I were going to go for a ride. I saddled up and went outside to wait for him. Before he even got out, it started to drizzle, and he wimped out on me. Cole and I left by ourselves.
As I’ve mentioned before, Cole hates rain as much as Kevin. It was a light rain and a warm evening, so it didn’t bother me at all. Each time I have ridden Cole in the rain, I have noticed that he goes much faster than dry days. I think he wants to get the ride over with. That is no problem for me! We flew down the hill. When we got to the bottom, I was going to trot to the river bank—stopping right before a log we can either step over or jump. Well, he didn’t want to stop, so we jumped the log and he dashed off at a canter—past the riverbank and came to a sliding stop where the trail ends a short distance later. Silly guy—he thought he could get out of going for a ride.
I turned him around, and he reluctantly walked down the river bank. Once we got across, we had a very, very fast ride. When we reached our favorite spot to canter, he was trotting so fast that he simply couldn’t make the transition. Instead, we kept trotting faster and faster. I don’t think I have ever trotted this fast. We slowed down when we got to rough trail, and made it to the next river crossing in no time at all. The rain wasn’t bad, so we crossed and rode about 10 minutes longer before turning home. He really, really wanted to go fast, now. It did start raining a little harder, so I agreed with him, but when he started to get a little out of control, I made him walk the rest of the way.
Once we got back, it really started to pour. Our barn has a metal roof, so the sound is deafening. I had planned to work on traffic with MerryLegs, but that was out of the question. Instead, I led him into the indoor arena. We walked around. He wasn’t very good. I think it was all the noise from the rain. He kept getting worried and would stop. Graddually, he improved.
Kevin came in to watch. I decided to test his lounging skills. I had my 15 foot lead rope and dressage whip. When I asked him to go out on the circle, he promptly told me what he thought of lounging. He said he would face me and not go on the circle. When I would step to the side, he would pivot so he would still face me. After about a minute or so, I realized we weren’t getting anywhere.
I decided to try the opposite side to see if it was any better. He wasn’t as coordinated this way, and I was able to get into driving position and he took a step. I clicked/treated. I tried again, and got it a little quicker that time. Once he realized what was going on, it took less time each time. Kevin wanted me to just have him go out into circles, but I explained I wanted to train him to go away from me, first. In just a few minutes, he was doing excellent. It was only about 10 clicks. Soon, it seemed like he wanted to show me he could do it—and then he started to trot around me. Kevin wanted me to see how many laps he would go, but I wanted to click him for just going on the circle. When I clicked, he would stop and walk up to me for his treat—and then I would send him back out.
Once on the circle, I could see he was trained to lounge well. He paid close attention to me and responded to all my body language and the dressage whip. I don’t think he liked being lounged before—hence his reluctance to want to do it in the beginning. I plan to make him love it.
I went back to the original direction, and this time, it only took a little bit before he was walking away from me with just a tug on the halter and then trotting on the circle. I didn’t work him long or hard, though. My plan was just to review the process and have a good experience—and we did.
I’m glad to say that his trot looked balanced and lovely. In the future, I will click him for impulsion, roundness and self-carriage. This worked wonders with Cole, so I am curious how it will go with MerryLegs.
We ended the day with practicing walk/whoa/walk with the clicker. This is a great way to instill vocal commands and teach him to focus on me. I had to quit when I ran out of carrot slivers.
It was a great evening in spite of the rain.