Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Baby Horse Training: Initial Thoughts

Zoëbird is my first "actual" baby in terms of a horse that came to me with only good handling and no negative baggage to overcome. 
awwwww
It's magical. Really.

I mean, yeah, it helps that she has this incredible brain and is level-headed and intelligent for sure.

After all the rubber-meets-the-road theory testing I did with Courage, I am having a fabulous time applying those things with Zoëbird.
riding
I definitely realize I'm totally spoiled here--I cannot overemphasize what a cool girl Ms. ZB is. If there was ever a horse that could handle the rigors of the "young horse" type program, it's her.

And yet.

I have zero interest in pushing her along that road. I am on principle opposed to time-bound competitions for young horses. I think it encourages egotistical behavior and a wanton disregard for the long term good of the horse. (Admittedly, it could be argued that the competitions themselves weed that out--high achieving pairs are rewarded and those who pushed too fast too soon generally sift to the bottom of the barrel.)

Instead, I find that with Zoëbird, the accomplishments are their own reward. She went from afraid of the hose to confidently standing in the washrack and letting me hose her whole body down with zero use of force or extra people. I just went slow and explained it and rewarded every try.
success
We're doing the same thing under saddle. I have a very cool rider helping me out at this point--she just sits loose and comfortable with soft hands and soft legs. Zoë is never punished for trying--any effort merits a release.
trotting off the lunge!!
Again, Zoë has given us nothing but solid effort and sure, we could probably push things along more quickly. But you know what's cooler than jamming a horse around for a few quick instagram updates that gloss over the struggles?
NOT WANT TROT Y R U KICKIN THE ZB STAHP
Going slow. Explaining every step. Watching the light bulb click on and having my very cool baby horse start to offer behaviors because she understands the question. 
so basically she's a champion of everything
Right now, everything is new for Zoëbird. But every single day, she shows up to work.

HAI COOKEES?
It is so much fun to work with a horse that wants to be there. Whether it's her first time trotting off the lunge line, her first ride with me up, or her first time playing with ground poles, Zoëbird is the sort of horse that makes every day fun for both of us. 

40 comments:

  1. Having fun makes it SO worth it, doesn't it? I love a horse with a good work ethic too

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  2. Gah! She's so cute. I love this post so much! Your approach to be patient will pay off ten times over! A great horse takes time. That's really hard to do sometimes when we just want to get to jumping 3ft and doing all the shows, already. I'm so happy for you that you found ZB 💗

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  3. This makes me smile :D I'm so glad you're having fun with her

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  4. "But you know what's cooler than jamming a horse around for a few quick instagram updates that gloss over the struggles? Going slow."

    Slow clap. Slow and steady wins the race at turning good minded babies into GREAT adult horses. I know you already are having a blast with miss ZB, but you're gonna keep on rocking and rolling and having a great time 😀 it's so fun to watch you be able to use all your practicals skills from training Courage into bringing her along!

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  5. She's doing very well. And I have always believed that you can't afford the time to not take the time.

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  6. She is the cutest. I know this probably has already been addressed, but how tall is ZB?

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    1. I haven't measured her. I think she's 15.2.

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  7. Having a horse that wants to be there is the biggest thing in the world. When they don't want to be there...

    It is my first measure of a horse now.

    So happy you have a partner!!

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  8. So glad you found each other!!!

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  9. Hahaha, I love that her rejection of trotting is a head toss and not something more. What a good freaking girl.

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  10. Yup, club #goingslow over here!

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  11. All I know is no one regrets going slow with their horse. Go ZB and SB!

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  12. <3 this. my mantra for like, forever with charlie, thanks to Tracy, is "slow is smooth and smooth is fast."

    taking the time to lay a solid foundation where he actually understands what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how to keep doing it even when things aren't perfect has turned him into a horse who, above all else, has learned how to *learn*. rather than like, learning tricks or something. it makes a difference!

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    Replies
    1. Charlie is definitely a good role model. ;-)

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  13. The two of you are going to have the most amazing time together. And you know me, I'm all for slow and steady. Being patient can be tough, but so worth it.

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    1. omg she waits at the stall door for me and it's the cutest thing ever <3

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  14. It's so nice to actually enjoy your horse right? Levi is the first horse I've owned that came without a ton of baggage and it's so different.

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    1. It's a whole new world for me. I could definitely get used to this.

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  15. I've said before that I'm not sure if I would go the young horse route again. This reminds me that while I don't want to do what I did with Katai again (baby horse with LOTS of baggage who wasn't started properly) I would like to do it with a horse like Zoebird who actually likes people and really is a good blank slate.

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    1. I really couldn't have designed an upbringing for ZB that I would have liked better. I got really lucky with her.

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  16. Take your time and do it right the first time! A very good mantra indeed. So happy for you both!

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  17. You seem to have found an excellent partner in ZB!

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  18. Wow she sounds like such a GOOD baby horse!! Good on you for treating her like the unicorn she is and taking it slow!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHanoverian

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  19. Baby horse training thus far has been my favorite experience with horses. Especially with a good minded one. I love how slow and easy you're taking things. She'll appreciate that later, I'm sure.
    www.baysoverbaes.wordpress.com

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    1. I've done a lot of remedial training and I mostly don't mind it, but damn this is fun.

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  20. Makes a huge difference doesn't it. All my future horses will be bought for their brain first. I agree with the young horse thing too ;)

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