Training horse’s owner and I were talking over the weekend and joking that he set the bar high because he had been so great in his first week of riding. I had been telling her that I have had to take a step back and go back to lunging and some ground work which is something that I don’t always do.
I don’t like to spend a lot of time lunging horses if I don’t have to simply because I do think it is hard on their bodies especially horses that may have an old injury. However, when a horse doesn’t respect you on the ground it is going to be that much harder to have their respect when you are on them. My other concern is doing the best job that I can especially when someone is sending me a horse who is getting the first 30 days put on. They want a horse that is w/t/c doing some little x-rails and has been off the farm several times. I want to be able to ride the horse as much as possible not spend all my time lunging. We all know that sometimes things don’t go as quickly or as smoothly as possible so when it happens you just acknowledge it and implement plan B.
For me this has meant be more prepared to get flexible. Bringing out the lunging equipment, make sure I have my stick and spurs and don’t be in a hurry. It if takes 2 hrs to accomplish the goal then so be it and if everything goes perfectly then 20 min might be all I do.
Demand respect and focus the horses attention on you. This has meant that only two of us handle him and make sure that every single experience in clear that we are the boss and he must listen, stay in his own space, move his body when asked and that if an issue arises then we confront it and don’t back down until he understands what we are asking. I went back to lunging him and working on him staying forward on his own and getting a bit quicker to make a correction when he wanted to stop. He would get offended if I flicked the whip at him and rear up and try to pull away but I would stay with him and just keep driving him forward. No making the circle larger than it needs to be and then stopping when I correct him. No spooking at the jumps as he goes by and then running away.
I have to be quicker and think like a horse. Anticipate his actions before they happen so I can be quicker to correct. He had three lunging sessions and he had really figured it out and gave in quickly. When his owner came to see him he lunged perfectly with no issues which was very nice. I was just lunging him to show her what I had been working on and why it was really important to be the boss over him. He has to learn respect.
His ground manners are so drastically improved already! No moving in the cross ties, no headbutting, no kicking while being groomed, stands still to be mounted and when he does have moments he comes back to you much quicker and refocuses.
Smart horses can be that much more challenging because you have to keep them focused but when you are able to gain a respect from them everything comes together and a true partnership is formed.
My next goal is to teach him that even when there are tons of other things going on he must focus on me. Right now it’s OMG my buddy is over there, horses are moving, horses are hollering and I just can’t behave because I must join the other horses. This step takes time and work but I do believe he is smart and will learn. I had to remind myself it has only been 2 WEEKS so be patient and don’t expect to much.
I remember my conn/tb being the exact same way when I got him. He was deemed crazy but he was so far from crazy. Instead, he just had no respect for humans and was so smart he could throw every trick in the book at you. We have a lot of funny stories about him but my funniest memory was the day my mom gave him a whipping with a feed bucket 🙂 She went him to feed him and he swung his butt at her and went to kick her. She whacked him several times on his body until he backed down and we never had that issue again. I ended up with him because my mom wanted nothing to do with that pain in the ass horse! It’s almost like you can’t be their friends at first because you have to be so determined to lay down the law. We ALWAYS said these types of horses made the best racehorse because they had that extra edge to them.
We got a ton of rain last night and some really loud booming thunderstorms. Might be a good time to make a trip to the indoor for some of these greenies who haven’t been there yet.