Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mounting Success!

On Wednesday I switched Ike's bit from a stainless steel loose ring snaffle to a KK Loose ring snaffle with link. He seemed to go very well in it, but it is a little soon to tell.

Saturday's mounting lesson went extremely well. After I lunged him both ways at a walk, trot and canter, I moved the mounting block into the middle of the ring so I had lots of room to work with. My plan was to circle Ike around the mounting block if he didn't stand still for a bit, then try again until he would rather stand then continue walking into a circle. In the past I have kept my reins tight so he wouldn't move away, but I left them with some slack to see if it would help. He stood perfectly when I climbed onto the mounting block. I then stood at the mounting block for a minute or two. He continued to stand. I mounted onto him and tried to be as careful as I could not to thump onto the saddle when I got on. We stood for another minute or so before we went for a walk.

I continued this exercise in the middle for about 4-5 mounts and dismounts. I made him stand in the middle while I was on him, and also made him stand at the block when I got off. I have never ground mounted him before due to his height and his dancing around, but after he stood still for a few mount ups, I ground mounted him once just to see that I could do it incase I had to get off in an area where a place to mount up from or a leg up was not accessible. Luckily for me, I was able to mount up with sticking my toe into his side, and got up onto him without any fuss from him or any twisting/pulling. I dismounted and then took him into the corner where the wooden mounting block was. Here is where we had trouble. I positioned him against the mounting block. He stood up beside it, but once I got onto the block, he stepped sidewise. I brought him back over to the mounting block. I stood him a few inches away from the mounting block and got on him after he was standing still. Once I got into the saddle, he pivoted away from the corner. I made him stand. I then took my mounting block over to the other corner where I had mounted from before. The wooden block used to be in the near corner, but it was moved. He did the same thing in that corner. He would stand, then once I mounted, he would spin so his head was facing out of the corner. I've deduced that he just doesn't like the corner, either because he is claustaphobic or because he had a bad experience in one. It is good to note that the near end corners (where you enter the arena from) have always been a sticky spot for him. He has spooked several times in the corner where the mounting block currently is, and sometimes it is hard to push him into that corner going to the left. He eventually gets into the corner, but it is not his favourite place. The corner on the west side near the entrance isn't as bad, but he likes to cut it off.

While I will continue to have him work into corners, I was happy to find out that Ike was avoiding the mounting block because of the corners and not because he was unhappy with me riding him (which I thought may have been the reason why). Since he is still a baby, I thought he began to resent having to work and protested it by not standing at the block. I know his saddle fits him perfectly, so it wasn't a matter of pain. Since he stood still for mounting 96% of the time, I know now that it just a fear of corners that makes him dance at the block. The only other variabls that were missing was a) no one else was watching and b) there were no other horses in the ring.


I begin the majority of each lesson with lunging to get a feel for how he is going to be under saddle. On Sunday, I could hardly keep him going in a trot. I did not have a whip with me, as I didn't know where it had gone. Since he was so pokey, I decided to just go ahead and get on him. Remembering our Saturday lesson, I pulled the mounting block into the middle. He moved away from the block, but I brought him back around. He stood and I mounted back up. I avoided doing any circles with him today, because I don't like working him too long into circles. I have heard different opinions on circles - that they are good for balancing but they can be hard on young legs. Anytime I do circles, they are always 20 meters and only at walk and trot but I do try to avoid them at excess right now. We did some bending at the walk around the corners and in a serpentine. I did a ring and a half of sitting trot before asking him for a canter so he would not associate a sitting trot with an automatic canter. He picked up both leads, and almost used all of the arena. He was a little unbalanced on a couple of corners but nothing extreme. After we did some more walk/trot transitions and finished on a loose ring. I then hand walked him for 5-8 minutes.

Since he needs to get over his dislike of water trickling on him, I sponged him with some water in the cross ties instead of spraying him outside with the hose. He danced around a little bit, but nothing extreme.

His trot is improving with speed and head set. Every once and awhile he is reluctant to move forward but never for a long time. I carried the crp but tapped maybe once. He has become more relaxed in the trot, even with the crop, and doesn't speed as much. He keeps his head down instead of raising it for the majority of the time. I keep the contact very light. If we continue to have a relaxed ride both inside and outside, perhaps we will be ready for a show in a month, but we will continue to see how he progresses. If his first riding show is the CNE, I would be okay with that as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June Goals

Goals for the month:

1. Work at standing at mounting block.

This coming Saturday we will spend our entire time standing, mounting, and dismounting. We will go on the ring for a walk for a couple of rounds and return to mounting/dismounting. No other work will be done.

In the future, we will continue this exercise at the beginning and end of each lessons for apprxiomately 10 mounts/dismounts so the behaviour is reinforced.

2. Hosing off/sponging/bathing.

With the weather being so hot, we can work on Ike accepting bath time. He dislikes being hosed off and is scared of the hose. He is a little more comfortable with being sprayed lightly with water. He circles around but does not rear or strike out when the water hits him. After every ride, he will be hosed off so he is better behaved for bath time.

3. Working off the legs.

Last night I decided to carry a crop with me as I hadn't ridden him for awhile and wasn't sure what attitude he was going to have. When Ia sked him to trot, he was forward but not fast. Usually with a crop he races around the ring and it can take awhile to bring him back. He resisted going into a trot when the other pony in the ring was standing/walking. I try to avoid usuing the crop but needed a couple taps on the shoulder. He still needs to accept pressure from the legs so I will continue to use the crop until then.

4. Canter

Ike's canter continues to improve. He is better going to the right than he is on the left, which leads me to believe that he is stronger on his right. He bends better to the right at both walk, trot and canter and sticks closer to the side of the arena. He uses the entire size of the arena and gets into his corners. On his left, he is a little less balanced and tries to avoid using the entire arena, cutting into the corners, especially down at A. He sometimes rushes into his transition. He rarely picks up the wrong lead, but when he does, it is his left. He keeps an even pace and carries his head down. His canter needs to become more balanced on both sides, but more so the left, slow down slightly, utilize the entire ring and its corners and build up staminia so he can continue at the canter for a longer period of time. He sometimes ignores the inside leg around the corners on the left side. Transition ques will also need to be worked on, and eventually from the walk.

5. Working after the canter

Because we spent 3 or 4 lessons where the canter was the last thing done (in which I would dismount immediately after a good session of canter), Ike believes he is done after he canters. I ask him to trot a few rounds afterwards so he learns that cantering doesn't always mean that work is over. A couple times he would try to break into canter because he felt that we were going to do more.

6. Showing

Ike was not exactly stellar at his first show. I was not planning to ride, but I wish I had done more to prepare him. We took two other ponies, so it was hard to get any work with him done as I had to show the others. For the next show, I will take greater lengths in ensuring that he has a) been lunged for 10 minutes or so to get his energy out and b) walking him around the grounds for another 10-15 minutes so he gets used to the surroundings. I will likely not ride him at the next couple of shows. However, I would like to prepare him for the indoor show where I would be able to take him inside the riding ring a couple times the day before, and even lunge him in the morning before the classes begin. I think by getting him accquainted with the ring will really help his self confidence. I am also thinking about putting him on a supplement to help with his nerves/anxiety so we can have a few positive shows where he is relaxed. I would remove the supplement from his diet once he has gotten used to the idea of being off the property and the show atmosphere.

Helpful hint of the day:
If your riding boots are rubbing the back of your heels into blisters like my new ones were, tape your heels with sports tape. I tried this last night and it worked amazingly. I could walk around in my boots when usually I am limping badly after I dismount.

Tarining Jan - Present

Since I took so long to finally get this blog started, I'll have to recap what we have done and what we will be working towards.

December 21st to January 21st: 30 days of basic under saddle start. This means he was backed, taught to go forward, trot and canter.

January 21st to March 8th: Temporary break. With the snow and ice , I had no way of schooling him. I also discovered that I was too short to ground mount a young horse who would not stand. Promptly bought a mounting block. One day he was lunged in the snow and I got on him. We went for a short walk.

March: Relocated Ike to barn with arena so I could finally start him back under saddle. He also needed to be fitted for a new saddle. Rode him twice before the saddle fitter came out. Very responsive to the aids. Occassional spook but nothing too dramatic especially for his age. Found a black Barnsby all purpose that fit him very well. Continued riding twice a week (Wednesday to Sunday). Started to bend and lower head. Was a little upset about being alone. Not very keen on standing at all, whether by the mounting block or at a halt. Picks up leads 98% of the time.

April: Hit a wall. Decided he had enough and wanted to test me. Occassionally would refuse to go forward into a trot. Resisting meant backing up or turning haunches to inside while coming down the long line. Preferred side for bending and cantering is to the right. Carried crop to reinforce leg. Once going more smoothly with walk/trot transitions, began to ignore canter ques. Began riding with another horse in the ring. Well behaved for the most part, but still resisting in going forward when other horse is at walk or rest. A crop is a must until total respect of the leg is achieved. Crop has hardly been used - sometimes a small tap on the shoulder is required.

May: On and off with crop. I prefer not to carry it and would like to abandon it as soon as possible, but as he is still doing his stubbon baby phase, it is likely it will be needed for a few months until he moves off the leg 100%. Only resists going forward into a trot when in a group and other horses are at walk/rest. Does not resist when alone. Probably carried crop 40% of the time. Would ask for canter and then end lesson afterwards. Continues to pick up his canter leads 98% of the time. Very rare does he pick up wrong lead and it is usually the left one. Starting to come into his corners and balance more a canter. Rode outside alone with very little problems. Occassionally he will not go forward into a trot after we have done canter work as he has learned that the lesson is usually over once he has cantered. Started finishing lesson after 2-3 rounds of trotting in each direction.

June: Pulled mane with no issue. Has a completely bird over his right ear being touched or clipped. Can sometimes touch the ear but not for long periods of time. Successfully clipped the left ear, not so much right. Will likely need tranq for next clip job. Twitch did not help. Dislikes bathing. Still not standing very well for mounting block. Went to first line show, did not have a very good time, as didn't have enough time to prep!

The beginning of a journal

Now that I have started working with my new horse for a few months, I decided I really needed to start documenting his training so I can put myself on a realistic schedule.

I purchased Ike in December of 2010. I decided I wanted to buy myself a new horse that I could show as my ponies are too small and my arab was getting up there in age.

R.H. Icon (Ike) is a bay 3 years old gelding foaled May 2008. He is a welsh/Oldenburg cross. When I purchased him, he was given 30 days under saddle. I brought him home at the end of January. He got a month off before I relocated him to a barn with an arena approximately half an hour away from my house. After refitting him with a new saddle, he has gone into 2 days of training per week so that he continues learning but is not pushed too hard.