Sunday, January 13, 2008

Everybody Worked

Including Tucker

So reads the heading because I put Tucker on the bit and worked him for a good part of the half hour-40 minute session.

Mind you, he did stop the first time I picked up the rein for some contact and absolutely would not walk off on the bit, but I sorted most of that out pretty quickly and once we got going, he did some pretty nice work. Included were several pretty good trot lengthenings, some good canter trot, lead change, canter transitions, and a halt, reinback to a trot.

When I did finally stop and give him a walk break on a long rein, the issue of walking off on the bit started again. So, instead, I dropped the rein and trotted off, gradually picking up the contact again until he was in the frame on the bit again. Then, I quit and walked him out.

All the while, Stacie was riding Toby and having an interesting go of it. The first thing you need to realize is that Toby is very sensitive both emotionally and physically. He is super quick to respond to an aid, and super quick to figure out exactly what exercise or maneuver the rider is planning on doing. As well, if you correct him, he overreacts and tries to do whatever exercise he thinks you might be thinking of doing. Thus, a little leg behind the girth to straighten him might result in a flying change at the canter, or a half pass. In essence, you have to be very clear and precise in every aid and consciously think where your seat and balance are at every stride.

At one point, Stacie gave him a pretty sharp correction and my heart did a skip, but Toby sharpened up even more and wanted to offer all kinds of alternative exercises. Later on, Stacie said when she rides him, she gets the feeling he is in charge. Once he figures out what she wants him to do, he just does it, so she never quite knows if it's because she's done a good job of asking and riding, or whether he's just done it because he knows how already.

I remember years ago reading a children's book about a young rider at the Spanish Riding School riding one of the trained stallions for the first time. The horse was doing all kinds of "things" as he rode, all because his seat and aids just were not exactly precise and balanced. The horse was responding to every breath he took. Now, I am not saying Toby is that well trained--far from it--but he certainly does pose a challenge in a similar way. I guess 16-17 years of training do have some effect.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Chance and we decided to long line him today. Actually Stacie ended up doing all the work as I just sat off to the side and watched. Once again, she did a lovely job with him, getting some really nice trot work, good walk and Chance's "take" on the canter. That, with him, means going nearly all the way around the circle before quitting. The left lead is better than the right so he did some extra laps on the right lead. I guess he was a bit tired at the end.

He showed his "attitude" at the end by trying to escape the lines and run towards the gate. It was just a little temper tantrum, so I took his reins and led him around the circle a few times to convince him he had to continue working even after he had decided he was done.

I can see he is going to pose some training challenges down the line, but so far he seems pretty easy to fix when he resists. Hopefully if we can work through those moments now while we are still focused on the basics, he will decide it's just not worth it to argue.

I certainly have an interesting collection of personalities and training issues among my little herd. I can't say I'll ever be bored.

Weather report is calling for snow. Currently 3-6 inches with a "higher gradient" in Monmouth County which is, strangely enough, kind of east and south of my county, Middlesex. I never like these forecasts and this one especially since my tractor is off at the repair shop so I have no way to plow the driveway should it come to that.

Ah well. Can't do a thing about the weather.


  1. Toby is a schoolmaster :-)
    Well done for your good training !

  2. We have a snow forecast too :-(

    Three horses with totally different issues is fun, isn't it?