Guess Horses Can Get Used to Almost Anything
It was a gorgeous day today with warm sun and blue skies.
It was also the beginning of hunting season for small game. When I got up to feed the horses, Toby was very restless. He kept leaving his food to go out to the riding arena to stare out into the woods--the State Park partially surrounding my property.
I soon figured out why. Some hunter was blowing a whistle to call his hunting dog. I have to wonder if it was the same little beagle that dropped by here a few years ago as I was trying to get ready for a show. Hunter whistling, calling and shouting--beagle frolicking in my paddocks, completly ignoring his master while my horses bounced all over the place, totally unsettled.
Then, there were the gunshots on two horizons.
I decided to wait to ride until later in the day when only the hardcore hunters would still be out as they are not quite as zealous as the early birds.
Bad call. At that point, someone in the sand mine across the street must have been target practicing, because the shooting was relentless.
Still, by that time, the Boys had been out all day and seemed fairly immune to the kabooms. I did cancel any attempt at even a short trail ride, though, and worked Tucker in the ring, focusing on good forward energy, even when we passed the gate that leads out to the park. He only jumped once at a gunshot, so I guess he can get used to distractions given enough time.
I was going to long line Chance, but the weather tomorrow calls for rain, so I took advantage of the weather and got on to ride again. This time, I carried the dressage whip and just tapped him gently behind the saddle to get him to walk off. It worked perfectly. Daring more, I tapped again and said "trot," and after a few false starts managed to make it around a full circle on each rein at the trot. A fine start because he was completely calm about everything and even managed to steer a little better.
I opted for safety with Toby and just lunged him. What a great time that was! He is such a lovely mover and so steady on the lunge. Working him after Chance is like driving a luxury sports car after pedaling a tricycle. I trained Toby from his two year old year, so we have 14 years under our belts as compared to a week or so with Chance. Now all I have to do is start all over again with the new kid and try to get the same results.
Chance is the third young horse I have started from virtual scratch, or perhaps the fourth, if I consider that my first guy, Russell R., was going on three when I bought him. PJ was four and had been on the track, so he was well used to going under saddle. Toby had had a rider on his back, but no real training, and Tucker was a yearling with no experience at all. Chance had been lunged and supposedly backed, though I don't have confirmation of the details yet. Still, he's a "blank slate" and it's up to me to write in all the details.
Here's hoping I'll do everything for him.