New Pony Gets Groundworked – Training Day 1

We have a new girl at the barn! I’m calling today (12.17.2015) Day One of training Miss Pony (that is her literary filler name, until we decide on what shall stick and I can do her introduction post) even though I worked with her yesterday too.

While she is a bomb-proof [former] pony ride pony there are some holes in her groundwork. As a result I’m training her through Clinton Anderson’s big green book that I’ve mentioned before, Clinton Anderson’s DownUnder Horsemanship – Establishing Respect and Control for English and Western Riders. As I go through it from the beginning I will mark the exercises I do and relay the notes taken on how she did with it that day. I gotta say this little pistol is way more than just a cute painted pony 😉

Here is the training breakdown of her official Day One in training:

  1. The Hula Hoop (pg.49)
    She had absolutely no issues with this. she stands still and doesn’t care about coming into my bubble. I could touch her nose with the stick at first so I simply backed her up a bit. It was also easy to keep her eyes. Perfection.
  2. Desensitizing to the Rope (pg.51)
    No issues here either. I slung it around every part of her body from both sides. She moved her back legs only slightly once or twice at first but she made no attempt to kick or move. It did not last long and her face/ears were calm the whole time.
  3. Desensitizing to the Stick & String (pg.55)
    Again, no issues. She’d already been familiar with the lunge whip apparently. The stick is used to give praise more often than spank anyway, and she’s rubbed down with it often to keep it positive. No issues with the string. I did not slap the ground.
  4. Disengage the Hindquarters (pg.60)
    Will need more work but she did it from both sides at the end. I’ll need to count my cues with rhythm as recommended and remember the proper order for asking through demanding. She does tend to back up so I’ll need to stay with her behind the driveline. I also need to be sure I’m not settling for the wrong feet movement. She needs to cross over correctly.
  5. Backing Up (pg.66)
    Backs up really well with a rope wiggle now. I did reinforce with gentle taps to her chest or marching to get more steps after consistent single steps.
  6. Yielding the Forequarters (pg.77)
    NEEDS MAJOR WORK. When pressure is applied to her fore-end she comes into my space and shoves her shoulder at me. I need a shorter, firmer crop to use in this exercise so she can’t close the distance before I get a good spank in. If she does not shove into me, and sometimes even after she does, she’ll move to go around me. I did back her up back into place when she did that but perhaps not the recommended 20 steps. I’ll pay more attention to that next time, adding more enthusiasm. The “Common horse problems” solution in the book does not work if I can’t get a good smack in. She pushes against anything, even air taps. She is also not in any position to back up as she’s already made contact with me. More help is definitely needed to master this exercise.

We shall see how our review of these go tomorrow, and I hope to have an introductory post with lots of adorable pictures made out for her very soon! 🙂

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What’s the Point of all This?

There are times I ask myself that question, especially on the days when my horse(s) and I aren’t communicating effectively and things go wrong. I may blame her and let my emotions (usually sheer frustration) cloud the big picture; what I really should be seeing and what’s needed FROM ME to correct it. I like that in reading Downunder Horsemanship it’s put into BLACK and WHITE words: If your horse is not performing correctly or is misbehaving, it’s 98.9% always YOUR fault. The bottom line is for me that I always want to learn and improve. You don’t get to the level I want to be at by faking it and getting your feelings hurt. You have to educate yourself and allow others to educate you! Everybody wants something out of life but not everybody gets their dreams fulfilled.

One way I’m educating myself is by reading Clinton Anderson’s and Stacy Westfall’s training books. CA’s book goes into depth about horse psychology which is INCREDIBLY important since you can’t understand the choices you’re making until you know why those decisions are necessary. SW’s book is very exercise oriented and each stage and maneuver is detailed and explained in such a coherent way, which I especially like because cut and dry instruction are easiest for me to follow. It’s a very straight forward method. Both of them are, in fact. I get a great deal out of each of them but I’m not finished yet!

I have also borrowed a handful of VHS tapes of various CA and Chris Cox training sessions from my barn guy which I’ve only just started watching. I can tell I will need some extra practice watching Chris Cox because he doesn’t have the same flow of communication that the other two do. I noticed that when I watched one of the RTTH competitions recently. He does not allow his viewers to follow along quite as well, he simply takes action and sums up. There’s no detailing what exactly he did, why, or how. This would not matter much to me if I had a better level of understanding of the things I’m specifically watching him to learn, however I will manage this by taking notes and asking questions to those who know better.

Life is metamorphosing before my eyes and I’m going to continue to change with it. I’m taking the road to my training career  more seriously as well as certain smaller scale life goals, and I’m not disappointing myself. I wish I had more pictures to share but that will have to wait until next time!


 

Goals for Arizona’s next refresher session:

  • Groundwork for respect.
  • Groundwork for basic riding cues.
  • Quiet mounting exercises.

Goals for Powder’s next training session:

  • Lunging and respect groundwork.
  • Desensitizing body with hands and rope.
  • Desensitizing the space around us with lunge whip and string.