Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bella’s New Lesson

Bella’s New Lesson

We have ridden with Shari on Bella a number of times, now, and Bella is getting better with each ride.  Last weekend, we got some well-needed rain, and the river was too high to cross.  We limited to riding up and down the hill.

Ellen was on Dante, I was on Cole and Shari was there with Bella.  During all our other rides, we have been putting Bella in the lead.  She is a fast walker and trots pretty good, too.  Since she is such a spirited horse, we figured it would just work out better with her leading.  We were right.

When we reached the bottom of the hill, we decided to trot.  Since Dante is so slow, we decided to have Ellen just trot down to the end on her own, and then we would follow.  For some reason, Cole was in the lead, so I just went first.  Cole went pretty fast, and that got Bella all wound up.  She wanted to race.

Shari realized that she had a new training project, and what better place to do it than when we were going up and down the hill.  Her goal was to encourage Bella to relax when other horses were ahead of her.  Since Dante is too pokey, that meant Cole had to be the leader.

Cole can lead, but he prefers not to.  Bella can follow, but she prefers not to.  Cole will purposely go slow or try to turn around to go behind the other horses.  Bella just tries to pass.  I had to keep Cole moving forward and Shari had to hold Bella back.

I managed pretty well, but poor Shari had to hold Bella with a much tighter rein than she wanted to.  She hates riding like that.  She wanted Bella to relax and to have loose contact on the reins.

Bella was very resistant in the beginning.  Whenever she finally showed some sign of relaxing, Shari praised her, clicked her and treated her.  She also would rub her on the withers as she walked quietly along.

Bella didn’t like turning around to go back down the hill.  We call that the “Demoralizing Part.”  When the horses learn that they aren’t always going home when they go up the hill, they tend to slow down and relax.

We did three trips up and down the hill--staying at the walk.  By the third time down, we were seeing noticeable improvement, and on the last trip up, she was near perfect!  We were so thrilled.

As luck would have it, I was supposed to ride with Shari the next day in the evening, and the river was even higher even though we didn’t get any more rain.  We were stuck on the hill, but it gave us time to reinforce the lesson from the day before.

Bella got more consistent and relaxed.  At one point, another horse from her barn was with us, and Bella stayed last in line, but it didn’t bother her.  She was relaxed and walking with a loose rein.

Our next goal is to work with Bella on following another horse in a lady like-manner at a trot.  That will probably be more challenging, but I think she will figure it out.

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