Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dante’s Dark Side

Dante’s Dark Side

I bet no one knew he had a dark side.  I didn’t expect it.  Let me go back and explain.

Dante had been consistently giving Ellen great rides, weekend after weekend.  She was even taking him on rides with Kevin in the mornings when I was at work.  It was wonderful.

Then one chilly morning, we decided it was time to allow Cole to take lead horse position.  Cole has trouble following Dante because their trotting speeds are mismatched.  Dante loves to lead, and Cole loves to follow—but I have to keep checking Cole’s speed because he gets too close, I have trouble posting the slow speed and he isn’t as smooth as Dante to allow easy sitting of the trot. 

We have spent plenty of rides with Cole in the lead in the past, and Dante never seemed to care.  We would just stop and let them catch up if they got too far behind.  This should have been no big deal.

But it was.  Actually, the problem started to rear its ugly head last fall when we were going on rides with Starry.  I guess having not one, but two horses far ahead of him bothered him.  He started to get feisty back then, but we kind of forgot about it this spring since everything was going so well.

Dante didn’t like following.  He wanted to canter to keep up.  Ellen wouldn’t allow that.  He began to protest by bucking.  Well, it may have been large canter leaps—it is hard to say.  He will do a large leap on a trot transition when he is on trail quite regularly.  We call it the Lambert Leap.  (He is a Lambert Morgan.)  Whatever it was, we knew he was fighting Ellen and misbehaving.  Ellen was very, very upset.

What happened to Dante Dream Horse?

I told her she had to come up with a plan to correct the problem.  We couldn’t just push it under the rug by avoiding it—or tolerating it.  Of course, I would have kept Cole in the following position forever, if it helped her, but that wasn’t the best solution to the problem.  Dante used to behave, he could behave, again.  Besides, if he didn’t like being left behind when Cole trotted faster—he was welcome to trot faster, too.

The next weekend, it rained a lot and the river was too high.  Actually, it snowed, too.  Mother nature didn’t look at the calendar to see it was May.

The following weekend, the weather was great and the river was low.  It was time to see what Ellen’s plan was and how it would work.

We got down the hill and over the river.  Right at the beginning, she said I could put Cole in the lead.  It was a great idea, because Cole starts out slow until he gets all his snorts out.  The longer we ride, the faster he will go.  We went a short distance and Ellen asked us to stop.  She stopped Dante, too.  Then she walked past us, took the lead and trotted.  We went a little way, stopped and switched again.  We kept doing this right down the trail.  Cole went faster the further we went; as expected.  I kept asking Ellen if they were all right, and she kept reassuring me that they were.

I named it “Leap Frog.”

On the trickier parts of the trail where the horses get wound up, she would tell me to trot to that corner or that tree and stop.  I kept praising Cole and sometimes clicking him for the stops, so he didn’t mind.

We had Cole lead for longer distances each time.  Not once, did Dante misbehave.  We were so happy.

Something to keep in mind; when you are training one thing, you are usually training other things at the same time.  It is important to keep that in mind, to insure you are training those other things correctly.

Dante has been nervous when Cole passes him or he passes Cole.  (He has problems with other horses, too.)  This is nothing new, and it goes away the more we trail ride.  Leap Frog gave Dante a lot of time to practice.  Ellen praised him when we passed him with no problems.

Dante has gotten a little sloppy with his downward transitions on the trail, too.  (He is perfect in the arena.)  Ellen insisted that his transitions were precise. 

Overall, it was a great ride.

We were able to take them on a trail ride the next day, too.  It was time to review the lesson.  We had terrific success.  We will continue to review until eventually, I can canter (gallop) off at Cole’s speed and Dante can canter at his slower speed without trouble.  We used to be able to do it—we can do it again.  (The warmer weather will help us with that.)  The final test will be adding Starry and Kevin back in the mix.

Kevin can’t wait.  I think he misses riding with us on the weekends.

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