|that makes both of us, i think|
The few times I've sat on C-Rage this year have been in the safe confines of the indoor. You know, small, no windows, no room to get up serious speed if he decides to peace the hell out. It happens.
So because I'm not the rider I ought to be right now and Courage is the horse he is, I've made some different choices. For example, does anyone else remember how C likes to hardcore bolt and flail in the spring? And how the first ride outside ALWAYS necessitates bolting? No? Well maybe it's just me but if I weren't massively lazy, I'm pretty sure I could dig up posts about it for you.
|am massively lazy. insert dr chiweenie image as diversion.|
Soooooo our first excursion to the great outdoors was on a lunge line. With Vienna reins. In the safe end.
|oh hullo there sexy|
|i will take this|
|omg arena was worked!|
|look who's not bucking me off|
|such a good boy|
Of course, the FOUR WHOLE (kidding, more like 2.5 if you count walk breaks) minutes of trotting was about as much as my stupid body felt like coping with, so our next session was in the rope halter. As much as I hate having my schedule dictated to me by pain, it's forcing me to think through how to address our problems differently.
So problem. When I ask Courage to do something he thinks is hard, he gets tense and flings himself around. Also problem: he thinks the top of the outdoor arena is scary.
|opinions. we haz them.|
Then I looked at the scary ass mess of ground poles in the corner. Fun fact: C HATES ground poles. He's actually more ok with jumps than poles.
So I led him over them at the walk. That was fine. Time to make it harder.
I sent him over it at the walk on a circle left.
Then I asked him to change direction and walk back over them.
He didn't like me off his right side, he didn't like the poles, and he didn't like the scary end. He threw his shoulders in my direction and his head up and slammed it in reverse.
God damn I love ground work for this stuff. First things first--no horse gets to push into my space, even if they're ten feet away on a lunge line. Running over me is NOT an option. (PS and if you don't train your horse like this, do not ask me to handle it. I have zero tolerance for being run over.)
Next things next. When I say "go forward quietly", I mean "I am the boss hoss in this here shindig and I say it's safe to proceed quietly SO GIT YER ASS OVER THAR NAOW".
|his yes ma'am face|
Now, I have to qualify that statement--Courage is a sensitive horse with a hair trigger. In our relationship, a "big" reprimand is me swinging the coiled lunge line at his butt. Not hitting it. Swinging it at him. It's an unusual day if I really even pull on the rope. Because he is so reactive, I don't get excited when he slams it in reverse. I let him go so he doesn't feel trapped and don't reprimand unless it crosses the line into naughty.
And even then, when I say "reprimand", for this horse, I mean a tug on the rope and saying "knock it off, asshole" out loud in a normal tone.
This horse is not representative of all horses, but he's my horse and this is the method that gets me the best results. I don't feed his drama and then he comes back to me.
And maybe it's stupid to say this, but the biggest factor is the release--so he does something well and I immediately take pressure off by turning away, let him stand, and stare at my phone until he finishes licking and chewing.
So. All that. We fixed "go over there quietly" and we fixed "pay attention to SB" and we fixed "scary end omg", and then we went back to the poles.
|hey look who can walk like a sane horse|
|admit you kinda love his mud dreds|
And by the end of the session, I had a horse working calmly through a difficult exercise with a soft eye and a soft body on the scary end of the scary arena. We call that "Success Level Two".
I certainly wouldn't choose to be this way and I don't know how well this is going to translate going forward, but it's a whole new way to spend time with Courage and we're making the best of it.