I don't spend as much time outside of the arena as I probably should, but it's hard to do with two horses and a full time job. Plus, it's been so darn hot that I just want to get the real work done and get back in the shade.
This weekend, fall made a brief appearance here in Central California. We were blessed with a cool rain shower and temperatures that barely cracked 70 ℉. After working Izzy for 45 minutes in the arena, I decided to head out into the neighborhood for a cool down walk.
The last couple of times that we walked the neighborhood loop, Izzy decided that he didn't really want to be away from Speedy. His version of resistance is to refuse to go forward. And when he got tired of me cowboy kicking him in the sides, he decided that rearing was his next best choice.
We spent one pretty frustrating morning working through the balking and rearing. Without a whip or spurs though, it ended up being a bit of a draw. The next day, I repeated the loop with my whip in hand. He still fussed, but the ride was a lot easier for me.
On Sunday, he was tired from the ride, and I again had the whip. He thought about balking as we passed the first weird tree, but with a teensy tiny tap of the whip, he trudged forward. There are three real bugaboo spots that he has decided he doesn't like.
The first is the weird tree. The second is a mini hill that occasionally has a puddle in front of it. He happily marches up the hill when there is no puddle, so it's not the hill. With the early morning rain, the puddle was bigger than he has ever seen it.
Well now. That's how it should be done!
We continued along our walk which means that we have to pass by the Haner Family Farm. They're the ones with all of the farm animals right along side the road. There are pigs, geese, turkeys, goats and a loud barking dog. I don't really blame him for getting tense in this spot, but I still expect him to march along. There was some rubber-necking, but over-all, he showed an improved level of confidence.
The third bugaboo on this loop comes when we pass the barn for the eastern loop of the trail. The last time we tried to pass the barn without a whip, Izzy spent a solid ten minutes rearing and refusing to move forward. As we approached the edge of our property, I simply kept my eyes pointed forward and told him to get a move on.
There was a little shoulder bulging towards the barn, but I could see him re-thinking the "refusal accompanied by a rear" maneuver. He has a healthy respect for the whip, and is instantly motivated by the lightest tap. He marched forward with only a slight hesitation.
The last stretch of our trail is along a short dirt road that is less a hundred yards long. He tried to scoot forward a few times, but I was right there telling him no. In fact, I told him that, if he wanted to move, he could do it in half steps. That doesn't mean I got good half steps, or maybe I did as they felt good, but my thinking was that if he had that much energy, he could use it by going more up and bouncy than forward.
It's not that I know how to correctly teach or ride the piaffe, or the half steps for that matter, but I could feel the surge of energy he had and since it isn't safe to slam such high energy to a stop, I simply asked him to use that energy in a more productive way.
In the end, I had a horse who was showing some really fun positive tension, and I felt a sense of FINALLY.
I want Izzy to be relaxed on the trail, but if he's not, I am okay with schooling him through it, especially if he stays focused enough to accept the directions.
I really do enjoy riding this horse. He's going to be pretty amazing when he finishes growing up!