Monday 7 August 2017

Saturday Night Out

Out at the barn, that is!

I worked during the day, and there was a huge dump of rain mid-afternoon. I wasn't sure if I would be dealing with damp (and dirty) ponies when I got out to the barn, but the rain appeared to have missed that area.

The plan was to only ride Cisco that night, as Pony Grandma was able to come out with me, but wouldn't be able to on Sunday. I am definitely not comfortable yet riding him without a helper, so Sunday would just be ground work for him.

But Saturday was a riding night. I hadn't been out since Wednesday when we did a bit of trot. I was hoping to not lunge before riding in the hope that he would have a bit of extra go, but he was a bit too perky and up for my liking. So I did twirl him for a few minutes first.

There were lots of distracting noises outside the arena so our ground work took a hit. Stopping and standing? Mere suggestions that were categorically ignored. Sigh. He's very good about light aids when his brain is in his head, but we aren't at the point yet when he can ignore whatever is going on around him.
Not Saturday night.

Surprisingly though, when I hopped on, he was much better about listening to me. At the beginning of the ride, our steering was, well, not really where I wanted to go. But it got better pretty quickly. And there were a few moments when I wondered if he was actually starting to move away from my leg. Naw. Couldn't be.

When I picked up trot, I went to the left first. The left seems to be our sticky side for some reason. (Maybe because I ride like crap to the left? And he is naturally right-sided?) I went to the left first to see if being first would move the sticky problem to the other side. Nope. The good thing was that the spot that he stalled out in was on the opposite side of the ring from the last ride. The bad thing was that he stalled right into a stop and didn't want to move again.

So Pony Grandma to the rescue. I had her stand in the middle with the lunge whip  and swish it our way when he started to stall. This seemed to help and we made it another 2 laps around without any too much issue. So I switched to the right and we made it 4 laps around at a trot. Whoo hoo!

We changed direction again and just did a couple of short trots just to get the transition, then switched direction and did the same once more. He needs to know that we don't trot in each direction once and then we are done.

I was quite happy with the ride. His neck was inverted through most of the trot, and inside I'm screaming "fix it!". But at this point forward is the most important thing and until we can reliably get that I am not too worried about trying to shape his way of going.

By the time we were done the barn had cleared out. And a shopping cart had magically appeared. No idea why. But I figured it would be a prime training opportunity!

I started doing clicker training a few years ago with Phantom. She loves it. So I have been using it a bit with Cisco. He is quite reactive to new things, but gets over them quickly. I figured the rattling of the cart would be cause for alarm. I was right. He went splat. And then touched it with his nose. And got rewarded with a click and a treat. He quickly started to figure out that touching the scary cart got him some food. Within a few minutes, Pony Grandma was pushing the rattly cart next to us as we walked down the barn aisle on a loose lead. And when she stopped he put his nose on it for the treat.

No idea how that would have played out without using the clicker training. I have found that it gets the horse where you want to end up much faster than it would otherwise. And it has been interesting seeing the difference in how Phantom thinks through problems versus Cisco. She tries really hard to figure out what I am asking. Cisco gets distracted and kind of frustrated. Mind you, he hasn't done as much of it yet, so hopefully that will change as I try more things with him.

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