Friday, October 29, 2010

Quick Ride

I scooted out to the barn yesterday afternoon. Never mind that I was cramming it in between lunch with the in laws and an evening commitment, I was going to ride.

Izzy did not think she should have to stand in the crossties, especially since I just used her rope halter that hangs on the front of her stall instead of getting out the leather one we usually used. Plus, I think she likes the noise she makes when she flips her head around.

I just ignored her antics as I speed-groomed and booted her up. (I learned my lesson about skipping boots when in a hurry last time when she tried to lame herself.) The gusty winds weren't my favorite thing ever, so I took Izzy to the indoor and put her on a lunge line in case she decided she was scared. She wasn't. That gave me just enough time to hop on, w/t/c both ways, and hop back off. She was ok. Not really good--she didn't really accept the contact, but she was pretty forward and relatively adjustable.

About halfway through our ride, another boarder showed up in half chaps and breeches and got her WB looking horse out to tack up in the aisle. I was super excited. Yay! Someone new to meet. Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and she was pretty absorbed in what she was doing, so we didn't get to talk. Now she probably thinks I'm a horrible snob, but at least I'm a horrible snob with an adorable pony, right?

Anyways. As I led Izzy down the driveway to get back to the barn, she decided to stop and poo. I wouldn't have cared except there was a group of people I didn't know standing by the barn and a car coming. Of course we'd stopped in the narrow part where the car can't go around. I tried to lead Izzy out of the way, but she was having none of it until her poo was done and I didn't want to pull the whip out with all the people watching. I know, she's my horse and they probably wouldn't say anything, but I just don't want people to think I abuse my girl... Am I over-reacting?

I've been noticing that Izzy tunes me out on the ground and just sort of ambles along at the speed she wants to go. Any recommendations for working on that? It's driving me batty, but I don't want to just whip her every time she does it. That seems mean.


  1. Granite is the kind of ambling along on the ground (hell, in the saddle too). I try to lead him from his shoulder and when I'm heading to the arena, I urge him on with the crop from behind... but it drives me batty too and I don't know much about hot to get him to walk like we are actually trying to go somewhere!

  2. Ground manners is something I've always loved working on. You could consider doing some dedicated lead-line sessions with Izzy during which you focus on your cues and her responsiveness to them, not the whip.

    My mare Scout had atrocious ground manners when I got her. She barged or dawdled as she saw fit, and snatched grass whenever she could. With consistent work, I tuned her up quickly.

    Here's how I did it. Pick a day to do just ground work. It's as serious as a riding session, and sometimes even more important. Use a regular lead rope and whichever halter you prefer. Keep your whip in your left hand, along with the excess lead rope. Set a course to lead Izzy around. Pick one target at a time and walk purposefully toward it, keeping her at your shoulder. When she dawdles, reach back with your left hand and tap-tap her with the whip, but keep looking forward and moving forward. Reward her for an immediate response by moving with her, avoiding bumping her nose with a too-short lead line. Practice halting and standing as well. Lead her from both sides, always rewarding with release, and keep her separated from you by whatever distance you prefer. Keep your intention clear and simple: we are walking forward, we are halting, we are backing. Make it interesting by asking her for some simple bends from the halt, asking her to bring her head around to you in both directions, and throw in a request to lower the poll, too.

    Remember, the whip is only an extension of your intention, nothing more. And your intention is good (to keep you and your horse safe and connected all the time), so using the whip isn't mean at all. Izzy should pick all of this up in just a few sessions, because despite her daydreaming, most horses really prefer to depend on their humans to set the routine for them. Good luck!

  3. Haha, the guy that works at my last farm (who is from Honduras) calls Tucker "Abuelo" ("Grandpa") because he walks so darn slow. If you can figure out a way to get her to ramp it up a notch from amble to stroll, or perhaps even someday a funeral march, please let me know! I own a horse who is in no hurry to get anywhere, ever.

  4. We have a few on either end of the spectrum. The crotchety old fart who walks with intent to get where ever it is she is going. If you are going too slow, she'll drag you. Riding her is the same way. Point and shoot, she's going... Keep up if you can!

    Then we have those who could care les if they ever get anywhere, any time soon. Some days the mood I'm in sets the tone for which horse to get out and ride. Otherwise I turn the rest out and leave it up to them.

    I agree with Muddy K. Just set a day and work on ground manners. It usually dosn't take much for the horses to realize you are serious and mean business. Body language is a big one for them. Your voice secondary. The whip is only abusive if you use it that way.

  5. I can't believe that other person would think you were a snob. That would be very critical! We all have crazy schedules to keep!
    The wind is so bad!!! It makes it impossible to make any headway.
    I know what you mean about feeling mean. Sometimes with Lilly when I am asking her to do something she clearly does not want to do, I say to my horse mentor, I don't want to make her mad! And he says, So she gets mad? So what? So then I think, Oh.

  6. Muddy K's comments are excellent. Keeping the groundwork interesting is a key to success.

    Cueing or tapping with a whip is not cruel, nor is it punishment. It is just adding another aid to your signals.

  7. My horse dawdles along too when I'm on the ground, unless I sharpen him up every so often. I tend to let him get away with it, which is laziness on my part. I noticed though when I took him to a show that I need him to be very responsive to me when I'm on the ground, for the sake of our safety. Once I got after him about things and insisted on obedience he was better in all areas, so it's worth it!


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