Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 3 and 4: Assume the right things

Well y'all know what they say about assume.  It makes...  Well in reality it depends what you assume.  Do you assume things will go wrong?  Or do you assume things will go right?  Do you act tentativley in anticapation of a negative response?  Or do you trust that your horse has confidence in you and that things will go right? 

Around here we set our horses up for success.  We lay the correct foundation, so that we can anticipate a positive outcome to everything we ask of them.  Thus I ASSUME that things will go well.  Don't misunderstand me.  This does not mean that I don't prepare for the worst, and keep in mind that accidents happen. 

The last two days have been big for both Jay and Penny.  Jay had his first bath, and learned to tie so he could dry without rolling in the dirt.  Both of them lunged under surcingles with Penny cantering under tack.  Jay still has some recovery to do, so I'm not pushing him as hard as her. 

Let's talk about introducing water and bathing.  I use one method for every thing I teach a horse to do.  I apply pressure, and release it when the horse offers even a hint of the correct response.  We do not use cross ties here at our house.  Baths happen standing at liberty in the middle of the yard.  Obviously in the case of these two that may seem like a lot to ask; particularly on day 3 of training.  But I assumed after 2 days of leadership establishment Jay would comply with my request and trust that I wouldn't let anything eat him.  With bathing the hose (water) is my pressure.  I do not use the halter or lead to apply pressure, nor stop movement.  I  point the hose at the horse and when they stop moving I take the water away.  If they start to move I use the lead to direct their movement, but it is their decision when to stop moving.  The reward for stopping the movement is me taking the water away, and stop it from touching them.  With each introduction of the water I expect them to stand still a bit longer, until ultimatley the horse learns not to move at all.  In Jay's specific case I had enough leadership established that he didn't try to move at all until I got to his hips.  Then I had to introduce the above pattern of training. 

As for teaching Jay to tie I use the same equipment and method with every horse.  Again I want to use a method that allows for release of pressure.  I don't like to leave them hard tied to fight it out against a rope.  I use a contraption called a tie blocker combined with a long rope.  This device puts tension on the rope if they pull against it, but in the event they sit down HARD it will give and allow the rope to slide through.  Once they stop going backwards I just pull the rope back through the blocker reeling the horse in like a fish right back to the point where we started.  I repeat this as much as needed until they come to the understanding that going backwards ultimatley does not remove the pressure of standing still.  I have had people insist that their horse's tying issues are too extreme.  My answer is a longer rope.  I am yet to find a horse that this method does not work for over time.  Some horses never need more than 12 feet of rope, some need 50 or even 100 feet of rope.  In Jay's case he needed all of 8 feet. He just didn't really question the process.

Penny is doing very well under tack.  She is more accepting of fast moving objects than Jay is.  She is definitley more whoa than go.  I typically like to use no more than a training stick (with no tassle) for lunging.  I simply use it as an extension of my arm either pointing, directing, or blocking their movement.  In the case of Penny I had to step up the energy level in order to get her cantering today.  I had to start spinning a rope and slapping the ground to create enough energy to get her moving.  She really has a nice floaty hunter type trot  when she starts moving out. 

Since I know that these two are destined for other forever homes it is important that they learn to behave the same way for several different people.  Thankfully my family is full of horse trainers at all levels.  My husband is an experienced trainer and is also working on teaching the same skills in very similar methods to myself.  On the flip side my in-laws that live on the property who are very green horse people also interact with these two daily.  They don't receive as much trust as my husband and I, but their interactions with Jay and Penny are crucial for the long term placement of these two.  In the next day or two my daughter and step-son will also start helping with the training process.  My daughter's interaction will be very important, since I anticipate both of these ponies finding careers as youth mounts.   Here are a couple of pictures of her working with her personal pony.

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