Friday, October 22, 2010

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde

Today I got to ride Dr. Jeckyll...Major's other personality! (I couldn't remember the story, but Hyde was the evil one...). I don't know if was the new training tool I tried, the new bit, the trails I chose, the day, his pasturemates, but he was a much better horse. It is hard to replicate exact situations (and I didn't really want to relive the ride from Sunday) and I wanted to see how he was on a shorter ride.

1. New training tool. I have tried this tool before, but with horses, you can always come back to something. Since my current regime wasn't registering with him, every time he broke gait/was silly/didn't do as I asked we turned around and headed the other direction. So we'd be trotting, he'd canter and I'd slow him down, turn around, and trot the other direction. After about 200 feet I'd whoa, turn back around, and resume the trail and pace as if nothing has happen. If he kept trotting, we'd pass the "sticky" spot. If not, we'd turn around and repeat. Only once did I have to do this three times. By the fifth time or so he figured it out, and the one time he "accidentally" did one canter step with one foot…and caught his mistake before I even corrected him. Good boy! And that was even coming home. We did canter in some places, when I asked for it, and he was listening and not just blowing through my aids. Much improved.

2. Trails. I stayed on the forest trails, which he knows but are not the wide-open fun of the lake and sandy canal trail. We went out and came home. Out on a nice loose rein, coming home was when we used the training tool. On all aspects of the ride we'd trot and I'd unexpectedly ask for a whoa, or a change of pace.

3. New Bit. I am trying it, and it is not a severe bit, but rode with a loose rein most of the time. The few times I had to correct him I did it in the above training way, so I think that was more the case. However if he gets really strong, I can use this aspect.

4. The day. I'll have to continue this for awhile. And just like us they have their good and bad days. I expect some backsliding, but will continue: I like my horse and the trails too much!

5. New pasturemate. Major has a new pasturemate/toy. Marti is a yearling arab/haflinger and I guess he and Major have been having a grand time. I love that, though the barn owner worries about them running up and down the hill. I am just glad someone plays with him, the other horses in the pasture are a bit stuffy.

One thing I love about today is that the trimmer came out before my ride. He trimmed Major's feet, which are looking better and better, and then I easily rode up the gravel road, packed hard trails and over granite slabs with no problems.

At the end of the ride I got off about a half-mile early and walked in (I usually do this anyway). Major had a yummy grass snack and I relaxed too. When we got home and untacked he wanted to dash off into the pasture, but I let him loose to roll in the nice sand arena. Then I turned him into the pasture, when he ran off, bucked and rolled in the dirt.

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