Monday, April 4, 2016

First trailer-out lesson!

The weather is so lovely right now. I scheduled my first lesson whereby I trailer Princess Fancy Pants out. We went to the place where we've gone for a couple play dates and I brought my tack. I didn't know what would be in store for us for our first lesson, but I had some non-riding things I wanted help with, so I mentioned those: standing for mounting and standing on the trailer. The trainer said they are similar problems in that the pony needs to find, and be comfortable in, a defined space.

Since we were already in the round pen, we worked on standing for mounting first. I was to stand on the mounting block and ask the pony to line up in front of me, with her body in the position where I can just get on. It took a few tries, but it totally worked like magic! Here's what we did. If PFP wanted to walk by me or swing wide or swing her butt out, I was to keep her moving and then ask her to turn around. I was not to let her walk in a circle around the mounting block (this was what I was doing wrong), but to keep her in front of the block. There was no crazy "make her move her feet" aggressive energy. It was just "turn her around and try again." The other part of what I was doing was using my breath to ask her to stop in front of me (this works for us because I already use that as a cue to come down a level from where she is - so canter to trot, trot to walk, walk to halt). Once she did, then I let her just stand there and rub her all over - neck and butt - and tell he what a good girl she is.

We did this for both sides. It didn't take very long. She stood still, relaxed, wasn't fidgety, and I got on from the off side.

Then we just walked around and talked about PFP's balance and where she likes to lean (right front) so we talked about how we would work through that, and it started with some ground work. I got off and we just worked on walking her around the round pen and asking her to move her ribcage over and bend her body through the ribcage. Again, very quiet, no aggressive energy, just walking and bending. We did that for a little while and as time was running out, I asked if we could finish by working on loading/standing on the trailer.

We walked to the trailer and I told her what my issue was. PFP will load just fine, but when I put the butt bar up, she gets nervous, fidgety, and antsy and wants to back off. I was prepared with a bucket of alfalfa pellets, some carrots and some cookies, which I put in the manger. We worked on getting the pony on and letting her eat, but asking her to come off while she wanted to eat, so that it was our idea to get her off the trailer, not her idea. We also worked on just standing quietly and petting her bum when she was standing quietly (just like the mounting exercise). And we also showed her that we wanted her to come off with a tugging of the tail so that we could teach her that only when she feels her tail being tugged is when she should come off. It didn't take too long and she was very good. I got the trailer closed up, then trainer and I stood there talking for a little bit. Pony was antsy at first, but then settled down and was very quiet.

It was a great lesson! I really like the energy and vibe of this trainer - she's very quiet and calm and doesn't have that aggressive energy that some other people have (not speaking of anyone in particular, just some clinics I have done/seen, the trainers exude an energy that I don't really like even though they aren't mean or anything, it is just too much).

Yay, Pony!

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