Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tying to the trailer

I had a lesson with Charley yesterday. One of the things I love about working with him is that he is so thorough and the lesson starts immediately. It isn't all about the riding, it is about getting your horse with you and handling your horse in a manner to get it with you.

Yesterday I trailered to Charley, as I want practice taking Pony to new places and learning how to get her to be tuned in to me right away so that we are safe to do anything we want. I was taking her to one trainer's place near me and that was a great set of experiences for both of us; and we went to the clinic in June and that was great, too. I wanted to try somewhere new where she hadn't been before and wouldn't have a day to settle in before going to work, so off to Charley's we went. The lesson started the second she stepped off the trailer.

We started first with a short lesson on getting her attention. That didn't take very long and I commented that I wanted to work on tying her to the trailer. She does well with tying to the tree (hanging tie that Charley set up for me) and she'll stand patiently very well there. But she's also surrounded by her friends in their paddocks (or at least one of them if I take Mac out for a ride) so there's not much to worry about there. I'm also working on ground tying her when I tack her up and she's not too bad with that. But I need help with tying to the trailer because she's apt to paw when she is frustrated or wants something and that could be dangerous at the trailer. So we tied her up.

Charley grabbed a handful of pebbles and we stood near her and she was okay. He had his horse saddled but he wasn't on him yet. We moved a bit farther away, maybe 20 feet or so, and sort of behind Pony. She started getting a little fidgety, and was about to start pawing. Charley tossed a pebble in her direction. She stopped pawing. We stood there talking for a while and he tossed maybe five pebbles her way. She settled down and stood more quietly, although she did move side to side a bit so she could see us out of one eye or the other. Charley then got on his horse and walked away. Now her attention was divided between me and the other horse. I think Charley used up one or two other pebbles. Then he started walking his horse around her and using the horse to get her to move her feet. And then she just stood there and he walked around her, back and forth the length of my rig, and close enough to her butt to reach out and pat her. And she was fine just standing there.

So that was the end of our trailer tying lesson and it didn't take but 15 minutes or so. He did say that for tacking up to not have her tied up for now and just have the rope in my hand or draped over my arm. So I did that and she was very good. BUT. It wasn't about just having the lead rope and she could wander about and wiggle around. It was about getting her in a mindset to stand quietly. So even while I was grooming he had me position her head and get to a good place where her mind was quiet. And same for leading her to the arena. Don't let that quietness go away and her focus go every which way. If it took me 20 minutes to get the quality of leading that I wanted, then 20 minutes it would be. But it didn't take that long. I did stop a couple times and ask her to put her head down and she was very polite.

When we got into the arena we did some ground work of the sort that we've been practicing at home and we worked from one end to the other where there was a scary mirror (oddly placed - it was at the top of the wall, but it was a half wall so it was just a weird visual distraction). She was great and I was really practicing and trying to get certain steps which Charley had shown me and he recognized that so at least I know I'm on the right track!

Then we practiced mounting with me on the block and leading her by and lining her up and having her stand quietly. I got on once but she took a step before I asked her to, so I got off and we practiced some more. I got on again and Charley and I stood there chatting for a couple minutes before asking her to walk off.

Then we practiced the same things we've been practicing at home, but with new distractions - different horses! Dogs! A lady in a wheelchair! Cars on the road! Chickens! And she was very good.

I had to go because I had a schedule to keep, but it was a great lesson!

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