Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moby Chair

And the Great White Monster Rises from the Woods

Well, not to Chance. Chance noted the white chair and then happily went back to work when I rode him. He felt good from the start tonight, not uneven at all. Whatever that issue is with his hind leg, it comes and goes.

I did a good solid bit of trot work including going over the poles, still set from last night. His head is down and he is pushing into the bit, but he is far from steady. Every once in a while he has to use his head and neck to get his balance, but there is no doubt he is getting better and better.

Then, just to test a challenge, I walked for a while and then asked for canter. Well blow me down if my Chanceman didn't take about half a trot stride and then just canter off. Quite the fellow. I am not asking him to canter on the bit, nor to canter correctly, but just to canter off my aids from the walk. Once he understood he managed some fairly prompt departs on both reins. Now, mind you, he is not 100% about taking the correct lead but out of about six departs he took the cued lead four times at the least on each rein. Pretty impressive. The right canter is still a bit quick at times, and not as soft as the left, but he is not particularly difficult to get on the correct lead. What a good boy he is.

It was a bit warm so I kept the session on the short side and gave him a nice sponging after we finished---along with the carrot.

Then came Ahab and the great white whale of a plastic chair. Tucker has had free run of the arena ever since I put the chair in the woods days ago. He has been out there regularly. The other day I rode him in the arena with the chair outside. Last night I lunged him in the arena with the chair outside.

Today the chair once again became an object of obsession. From some 20 meters away, on the left rein only, he stopped, froze, stared at the chair and tried to spin away. I "Kennyed "him, back and forth, back and forth. He went past the chair, ignoring it. Then I trotted around the full arena and again, he balked and spooked at the evil, monstrous, attack chair in the woods.

Finally, in frustration, I dismounted, led him over to the area of the chair and lunged him on the end of the reins in a small circle, tapping him forward with the whip. Now this technique has a downside. If you hit the horse when he is near the object of his fear, he will associate it with being hit and become even more concerned about the object. So the idea is to establish "forward" with the whip before the horse is near the object so that he is in acceleration as he passes the object, getting the idea that going forward past it is the only right thing to do. A horse going forward does not tend to shy as much.

Once I got him going, I remounted and headed for the chair on the left rein, this time putting him in shoulder in position and really driving forward with my leg and voice. Two times past and the chair was virtually forgotten. However, to be safe about it, I still pushed him a bit into shoulder fore each time we were on that side of the arena.

I must admit, once I had established some good forward at the trot, his canter was nice and bouncy. It had a nice, elevated feel and I was able to keep him in a good frame the whole time.

I finished up with some trot/halt/reinback/trot transitions until he halted on his hind end and then did the reinback with no resistance. At that point, I had worked the both of us far harder than I had ever intended so I called it a night.

Moby Chair had lost its horror for the time being. But to quote another famous piece of literature...."Tomorrow is another day."


  1. Anonymous9:05 PM

    Going forward and shoulder-in are both very good techniques for dealing with scary objects - they allow you to basically ignore the object and keep working. Keeping the feet moving is always a good idea!

    I also liked your point about making sure that the whip not be associated with the scary object - it's easy to forget how important that is in the heat of the moment.

  2. Your so right about 'tomorrow is another day', you got him over the monster chair today, but who knows what he will be worrying about tomorrow.
    I like your techniques for working through the spookiness.
    Glad you started and finished with good rides.

  3. Wow! Sounds like a lot of work but with a successful ending! There's always some horse eating monster out there, LOL. Right now we have a dog eating Junebug!

  4. let's hope they remember it is no longer scary...

  5. Has anyone ever studied the creative imaginations of horses?
    I have tagged you. the rules are available on my blog.

  6. Anonymous4:43 PM

    hahaha...silly horses! I hope the chair was not so fearsome today!

  7. Anonymous8:58 PM

    Jean - please excuse my (with luck momentary) stupidity - TTT?

  8. Things take time.