Horse Training Log ‎8/‎23/‎16

DSCF9932 db 800Sophie

Today, same as yesterday, only about twice as long a ride. The biggest difference was that today her rein-back was nearly perfect every time. We cantered for the first time.


We worked exclusively in the riding pen. She is awkward or confused about the shoulder in. Other than that she works really well. She’s a little crabby today; I think she’s coming into her season.

About Me

Both Sophie and Pearl are very calm compared to what I’m used to with Arabs. I have no siblings to compare with Pearl. However, I’ve had several colts and fillies with the same sire and dam as Sophie. Sophie appears to be quite different. This makes me wonder if my judgment is correct. I mustn’t forget there is another factor to be considered. Perhaps I’ve changed. The trainer is an important part of the equation. When I was working with Ruby this spring, she was way more difficult than when I first trained her as a three-year-old. I was tempted to exasperation. She was so different from what I was expecting. I know impatience or anger is a destructive vice from the trainer. I made a conscious and willful effort to adjust my attitude to peace, confidence and faith. I told her so verbally continuously. This effort toward peace needs to be consistent. I built a habit. I thought I saw changes toward the good in her, but I definitely changed.

Perhaps I’m just seeing results of my personal character adjustments in Sophie and Pearl.



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Horse Training Log ‎Monday, ‎August ‎22, ‎2016

this is an exercise I do to encourage the horse to lighten up, give to pressure on her nose. A horse's usual response is to push against the pressure. After standing like this for a minute or two, they find out that they can escape from the pressure by dropping their nose a little bit.

The above exercise encourages the horse to lighten up from the pressure applied by the bit or bosal.  A horse’s usual response to pressure is to push against the pressure. After standing like this for a minute or two, they find out that they can escape from the pressure by dropping their nose a little bit. The colt  transfers this learning to when the pressure from the bosal is applied by human hands.


With horse training, it is probably a good thing when each day seems the same especially when there is still some potential wild behavior. At least there were no cowboy moments today. As she keeps to this calm behavior there will be less and less of a chance for backsliding.

We walked and trotted down the driveway and out onto the road for a quarter-mile. On the way back we practiced halts, which are working nicely; she stops square and she anticipates my lightest touch. My action for the halt is as follows: first I push my but deeper in the saddle, say “whoa”, and then pull one rein straight back to my stomach. If she doesn’t stop immediately I alternate reins so as not to let her head turn. Often from the halt I turned her back the way we had come turning every other time right or left. She anticipated the cues to stop and responded lightly about 95% of the time. Sometimes on these halts we practiced rein-back, a few times she performed perfectly, sometimes a couple of steps awkwardly, sometimes she froze up and wouldn’t move at all.


Double Bridle

Double Bridle

Dawn Treader

Recently I have started riding Dawn Treader with a halfbreed, which is a vaquero curb bit. She only carries it; I do not use it. For my hand cues, I use a light bosal which she wears as well as the bridle. Eventually, I will double rein using both the bosal and the bit. Finally Dawn Treader will graduate to just the bit. At least that’s the current plan. I am attempting to follow the old Californio reinsman methods.

Today we practiced utility movements: opening the gates from on her back, riding the pinwheel and straddling a log while we full pass down the length of the log. She is calm and doing very nicely. I really like these sensitive horses.  No one would know by looking at her today that she has been extremely hot-blooded/emotionally supercharged.

DSCF9915 wc 800Kiwi

I rode her with a snaffle bit. I wanted her to get a feel for it. She was mouthing it and feeling heavy and generally having a hard time paying attention to me. Her mind was on a bit. After a trail ride, I put on the bosal and pretty much went through the same training maneuvers as Dawn Treader. She is definitely not as hot-blooded as Dawn Treader I believe she will be really calm beautiful pleasant horse for someone.

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Training Sophie Day 6 – 11,  Sunny Delight and Pearl

DSCF9796 wc800After the breakthrough on the fifth session (the last post), we repeated the circle game for two more days because she continued to run away when I presented the saddle. Finally, she stopped running and moved out only when I asked. We have had six sessions since the fifth session; they were very similar. We’ve taken a trail ride down the county road every day. The last two days I have ridden her with a saddle; before that, we were bareback on the trail rides.

Aside from saddling and ground manners, I’ve been working on moving forward. Like a lot of fresh trainees she moves out slowly, reluctantly and or cautiously. I push her forward or faster by carefully making the kiss sound, squeezing with my legs and if there is no movement, kicking gently. She eventually moves out and even trots.

On our trail rides, we do a lot of halts, turning both directions, rein–backs  and just letting her get acquainted with the world with me on her back. Rein–backs are  awkward and only two or three steps and that’s good enough for now.

If there’s anything exceptional or different about her it would be that she is extra calm when I am sitting on her back. Perhaps she has shown a little stress by acting sleepy, but she has never shown any normal resistance even down to arching her back when I first get on.

DSCF9155 db800Besides Sophie, I’ve also been riding Pearl and Sunny Delight. They are my least trained horses.

Pearl is doing excellently; she will be a fine horse. She is very light and responsive.

Sunny Delight (alias Jihad) is afraid when I first get him into the round pen. We do a little join up exercise two or three circles in both directions and he does a very clear join up, facing me and walking toward me. He needs steady riding. When he is fresh he is fearful but settles down quickly. He is way fat with no extra feed but grass. He is a good keeper.DSCF9807 wc 800

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Sophie’s Training the Fifth Day

DSCF9628 wc 800DSCF9633 wc 800As we commenced our circle dance, Sophie, frantic to get out, demonstrated a new level of wildness. This is a problem. As we are working out the training Sophie should be paying more and more attention to me, not concentrating on getting out.  This all comes of me not keeping up-to-date with the sturdiness of my round pen.

A human smells like a predator to a horse. This presents a problem for the horse in discerning the human’s intention. Each horse is a unique individual with a personality and intelligence of its own. Some horses have a more difficult time deciding whether the human is a member of the herd or a predator with an ultimate purpose to kill them and eat them. Sophie is one of these horses who has had a difficult time discerning my intentions for good or ill.

While I could saddle her and get on her, she never joined up with me so far as I could see. She was alert for treachery. When she escaped it seemed to reinforce her fear, probably only because she found an escape and after that kept looking for another escape thinking it safer than to wait and see.

Today more than once she bashed herself against the fence hoping to escape by pure force. Thankfully nothing broke. However, when she bashed herself against the rails next to the gate, the gate popped open and out she ran, but this time not out into the big fields but in the smaller riding arena. It took me a few minutes to catch her again. On our way back to the round pen, she was difficult. She moved rudely into my space, making it plenty obvious that she was not convinced that I’m the leader.

I could not allow this rude, dangerous behaviour of her getting into my space.  With lead line in one hand and the lungeing whip in the other, I waved it around in an attempt to push her out of my space. She took off hoping for escape, but this time I had the lead rope in my hand. I braced myself and gripped the rope tighter. She hit the end of the rope just as she was bursting into a gallop. This forced her to turn abruptly to her left. She ran again, this time the rope on her right side. Again she hit the end of the rope and turned abruptly 180° to the right. One more time she ran, but now she did not attempt to run away, rather she ran around me. We worked with the rope for a while longer but she did not test it again or push hard against it. She was light from then on.

When we went back into the round pen she was transformed. She wanted to stay with me, following me wherever I went yet respectful of my space. Somehow or other she had joined up with me. She was a changed horse.

I led her down the driveway, mounted her and rode her back to the round pen. She was calm, respectful and more responsive to my reins and my legs than I’d experienced before with her. This was a milestone day for Sophie.DSCF9753(1) db800

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Sophie Day Four

left to right Dawn Treader/ Kiwi/Sophie

left to right
Dawn Treader/Kiwi/Sophie

Sophie was afraid of the saddle as I walked toward her saddle in hand, so we commenced our circle dance once again. As she circled around me in the round pen she persisted in seeking for a means of escape. The goal here is for her to focus on me and not on possibilities of getting away. Usually, the horse and I  arrive at an understanding in our first session. I’m starting to think that because of that escape we still haven’t had that joined up. I wonder how long that remembrance of her escape will remain with her. In the long run paying attention to me will be easier for her. Her life depends upon it because she cannot have much of a life if she does not learn to work with human beings.

After she received the saddle I long reined for a few minutes. Long reining is like driving a horse while it’s pulling a buggy, only there is no buggy, just me walking behind the horse guiding her with 30 feet of rope attached to both sides of the bridle. Today I used a bosal, which is a braided, rawhide leather band loosely surrounding her nose and hung in place by a bridle. In my estimation, it is less severe than a snaffle bit and more severe than a halter. In this case, severe doesn’t mean necessarily more painful. It means I don’t have to pull so hard. Since a bosal doesn’t go in the mouth there is no worry about damaging or building calluses on the precious bars of the horse’s mouth as the steel bits can if the filly happens to have a tantrum and consequently it fight with the steel bit.  She was heavy, but not as heavy as she was in a halter, and irritated but never out of control or absolutely rebellious.

After long reining I took off the saddle and led her down the driveway. I mounted and rode back home. We halted and turned often attempting to get her to understand my cues. She did well. When we got back to the training pen I was even able to open and close the wooden gate from her back.

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