One of the problems that I face in writing in this blog is the repetition from one day to the next. Once you get past the very beginning of training there is little change from day to day. However, a week makes a difference; a month can reveal a whole new horse.
Yesterday I rode Titan and Fanny. I’m basically doing the same things with them day after day. I warm them up for 10 or 15 minutes by walking, trotting, and backing-up. If I start training immediately, especially on exercises that are new or difficult for them, they will be crabby in Fanny’s case or fractious in Titan’s case. (Every horse has a different style of showing rebellion.) If they are willfully rebellious they can’t learn or it is more difficult. They learn the best when they are relaxed and happy. After the slow warm-up time, mainly to warm up their muscles a little bit, I give them a nice fast gallop for a mile and a half. This ride includes crossing over some windfalls and a creek and up a steep hill. I have to slow down to a walk for this part. This gallop replaces round penning or lunging. The gallop seems to help them to relax for training, as round-penning does, and it is more fun.
Yesterday after not having ridden Titan for five days; he was fresh. He pushed me and was wild and aggressive on the gallop. Even after we got back it took him a while to get evened out enough to be ready to receive training. I cantered him in big circles for 20 minutes. After that we went back to our normal training routine that Stacy gave us. Which is walk, halt, back-up, trot, halt, back-up, canter, halt, back-up, etc.
In the last weeks it has become apparent that Titan’s problem has been fear or confusion about lead changes. The delinquent upshot of doing these lead changes has been that he gets out of balance by pushing to go faster, pushing against the bit or throwing his head erratically. In the meantime I’ve learned to introduce the lead changes more deliberately. I add weight by leaning slightly to the inside of the direction of the lead change and push lightly with the outside leg. For him it seems to abate his adrenaline level to be directed, as opposed to just let him figure it out when he needs to keep his balance by changing a lead.
Fanny has been helped by steady riding making it a part of, rather than an interruption of, our normal placid horse schedule. Like Titan the one and a half mile gallop helps her to get the bugs out. She has progressed quicker than Titan. At the outset of our summer riding they were about equally difficult. Now Fanny has become great fun for me to ride. She is very athletic. I think she would be invincible in gaming.
Kiwi and I are still working a lot on desensitization, that is getting used to stuff along the road and in the training pen, and strange noises. She walks, trots, canters and backs-up. She is quite responsive to my hands. She has been a little slower than most horses to learn to give to pressure from my legs. I have been doing mild half pass exercises using the fence is a barricade, and by these exercises she has been starting to respond to my legs. So far I have not used a bit or spurs.
Sophie, our new filly, was approximately 4 hours old when I found her the next morning and immediately I touched her all over her body and breathed air into her nostrils. As soon as she was big enough to get away she could not be touched unless she was cornered. I cannot catch her in the field. She needs to be in the barn to commence our daily petting time. I have not introduced the halter as yet. I hope to get to her comfortable to my touching, before I introduce a halter.