Chloe will go anywhere you ask her to, but if somthing is flapping or skidding across the road she imediately is on eggshells. I finally made the time to teach her to learn to tackle her fears, or at least confront them. A little tarp work before each ride goes a long way. She may perk up a little, but she doesn't lose her mind. I always rode through situations like these because they don't bother me, us addressing the issue has made her an over all better horse.
Bonnie and I have been through a lot in the past year. She has over come hurdles many people can't ever imagine. Together we took on a pony project that just didn't work out in our favor. As a trainer, I want the best for my client. When ponies or horses don't work out, I take it personal, but that's life and you don't always get what you want. The ponies we took on to train as rider/drivers just didn't take to driving. Fast forward a year, and Bonnie found her match, a beautiful Dales Pony she named Inky!
Lyra continues to learn in the ring, from the barrel squeeze to figuring out foot placement over ground poles. She has been wearing a circingle and is still not used to the snugging of the girth. Most importantly, walk means walk and whoa means stand until you are told to do otherwise! Last week we went for a two mile jog and walk down the road. We passed dogs, cows and horses. We had traffic pass us from both directions and we experienced surface changes from dirt to pavement. We took a break on a bridge to watch the water flow beneath.
Cativo lunges and knows the verbal "walk trot canter whoa" He is fluid with dirction change and backing up. We spent a lot of time ground driving off the rope halter. He learned to follow his nose and not to worry about me following behind him. We advanced to a bit once I knew he wasn't panicky about ropes, or me tripping behind him! He also wears my heavy western saddle. I like to be able to do head bends with Cativo while I stand in the iron. We continue to stand. I'll change the saddle to english before I throw a leg over.
Chloe has relaxed a bit. She actually has long moments of head down relaxation. We have gone down the road a few times. Twice alone and once with my neighbor friends. They too have green mares, it was comical at times. The mares took turns being the fearless leaders. It was great! I am so proud of my students.
Yesterday and the day before I got a few of the horses/ponies out down the road. The indoor has been great, but nothing beats the afternoon sun on your face on a winter day.
This winter at my farm I have three horses getting similar training, but each horse is so very unique. Two of my students are not saddle broke, so starting from the ground and working up is the only option. The third horse is saddle broke but doesn't have a concrete foundation. It is fun to apply the same tactics such as moving a horse around but for different reasons.
Lyra is 18 months old, everything is fairly new to her, so we are just addressing basic comunication. At this age she is excited to learn and very impressionable. If I rush her ground work, her training will collapse in the future. Calm, quiet and slow is what I strive for.
Cativo is five years old and hasn't been handled since he was a yearling. When teaching him to move his body around, his attitude was "why do I have to do this?" While I called him out on his bluff, at 17+ hands high, I had one chance to make a good first impression. He went through the normal bag of tricks to see what I was made of. Including longing away, kicked out and trying to run me over. Once this was established as "not an option" for behavior, he is a quick learner.
Lastly, Chloe knows what to do, but has the Morgan attitude that she could do it better with out my help. She has a very strong herd instinct, not like a collie, but raher that she needs to keep an eye on the rest of the herd. It is difficult for her to pay attention to herself when parted from the other horses. Chloe can move her feet faster than Gregory Hines, getting her to stop and relax is the main objective. Taking it back a step and ground driving rather than riding will benefit Chloe because everything will be done at a walk. Her brain needs to focus on one move at a time. Morgans are notorious for trying to finish our sentences, rather than working in the moment.
After a couple weeks of adjusting to their new jobs each horse looks forward to learning and gets comfort from leaving the herd. My objective is to ground drive each one by the end of the winter. Lyra and Cativo will be learning the ropes, obedience and partnership. Chloe is having a more of a yoga approach toward the whole thing. Physically she can do anything, mentally she is learning to hold a pose, take a breath and just relax.
While we commented on how cold it was, we had to remind ourselves that it was December 16th and we shouldn't even be able to do this! With roads clear and fields dry, a couple of my friends/clients and I decided to make the most of the extended mild conditions and plan a trail ride. This was especially monumental because two them started out just a couple months ago as clients that had not much experience with their horses. Now they are trailering their horses to new places and exploring the great outdoors. It was super fun to see them maneuver a steep down hill that neither of them was convinced they could do. Try replicating that in the ring! A special thanks to Barbara whom hosted the event and then at the last minute wasn't feeling up for the ride. She was a great sport and from the sidelines took pictures and started making plans for the spring.
These exceptional pictures where taken by my friend Jenn Sterns. Unfortunately Jenn left before my last horse was up. Crystal missed out on pictures which is a disappointment for me, she was braided by my friend Carolyn and she just looked stunning.
Left to right, Ashley McVeigh on Miles, Heather Hunt on Artie, Maya Dobush on Coco, photo by Carolyn Graves (Coco's owner) Not pictured are Crystal and Teddy, winter boarders now training at Dobush Farm. Go Team!
Join us the 26th of September at Green Mountain Horse Association as we test our dressage skills at the training level. Central Vermont Dressage Association will be hosting the show, this is the finale of their season. Crystal has had two shows including carriage dressage, but this will be her first under saddle. Coco has not been to a show in a couple years. This will be his first with his current owner Carolyn Graves. It will be Teddys second show under saddle.