Friday 26 January 2018

Calm Before the Storm

Cisco has been super chill this week. Me doing something with him 6 out of 7 days probably has something to do with it.

On Wednesday I didn't think I would have time to do anything with the kids other than feed Phantom so she could get started on the chaste tree berries and bundle both the kids up in their warmer snowsuits. But it turned out I had time to do something with Cisco. I decided that the mounting block would be tackled.

He had been really good about the mounting block just before we went on hiatus back at the beginning of November, so I didn't think it would take too long to get him back there. He just needed a bit of time spent standing there and not being in a rush to move away. I took over my treat holder so that I could click and treat when he stood.

He was very good about it. We spent about 20 minutes at the block. If he stood still with me leaning all over him, he could just stand there. If he walked forward I made him walk around the block and get into the right position again without me coming down.  Well, trying not to come down - standing above the ground while turning in a small circle made me a bit dizzy. I had to stand on the ground a couple of times before I fell off the block.

There was a jumping lesson going on at the same time, so we also spent some time just standing and watching. He really likes watching everything going on around him.
Phantom's reaction to only getting one cookie yesterday.
I had Thursday off, so I had planned to get out early afternoon to ride him before the forecasted snow hit us. But I slept in. So after I made another batch of horse cookies to replace the already eaten first batch I picked up Pony Grandma and we made our way out to the barn. I was a wee bit worried that I would hit a busy lesson time. But there was only one person riding in the lesson, so I decided to ride Cisco and see how it went.

I lunged him first in the scary end and he was super chill. Probably the most relaxed he's been down there so far. We just did a couple of minutes of trot in each direction and I decided to be brave and hop on. I also stopped lunging early because I was going to be in the way of the person who was riding.

He was good at the mounting block - yesterday paid off. He did walk away before I would have liked but we'll work on that.

The girl who was jumping was on a course when I got on, so we just walked for a bit to stay out of her way. Cisco stayed nice and relaxed.

Then someone opened the door at the scary end. And brought a horse through the hell port door.

And Cisco didn't get overly worried!

Initially he stopped to stare. I let him have a look, then asked him to walk on. He kind of felt like he might scoot, but a couple of strides later the feeling was gone.
Who was a Superstar today? This guy!

The goal of the day was to trot. He picked it up as soon as I asked and had a nice rhythm as we went around. Our steering was crap - lots of going around a turn with his head turned to the outside. But there was someone jumping, a new horse to try to make friends with and a large dog running along the fenceline - finessing steering on our first trot in almost 3 months wasn't the biggest priority!

He did drop down to a walk the first time we passed either of the other horses in his need to make friends with every horse he meets, but didn't really fall towards them, and trotted past the rest of the times. The portal to hell door opened another time and admitted two more horses, and he wasn't fazed at all.

We had a couple of fantastic halts, with much less hand required, so I was super happy to end my ride there. The ride went better than I could have hoped. He did look around lots at everything going on, but it was always soft and not the totally concentrated stare that he often does. With some more schooling I'm pretty confident that I will be able to make him focus his attention on me, but we're nowhere near that stage yet.
Snow ponies. Can't use carrots for noses though.

And now there is a good chance that he'll be off for another 10 days or so. We're getting snow tonight and tomorrow, and depending on how my drive home from work goes tomorrow I won't want to head out tot he barn. Well, that and because the temperature is dropping again. There's a clinic at the barn this weekend, so I won't be able to ride over the weekend. Monday isn't looking too bad, unless the snow that is a possibility becomes a reality. And then the temperature plummets. There's about 6 days of -17 or colder as highs.
There won't be much riding in these temperatures. This is next week until Feb 7th.

So I will be starting from scratch again.


  1. aw what a good boy - so awesome that he could calmly process all that activity going on around him, esp the horses coming through the hell door lol

    1. I think the slow, quiet work has paid off. I just wish the weather would cooperate so I could get a few more days in before a break. But current weather is crap, driving is crap, and the forecast is crap. So no riding for a couple weeks.

  2. Other then fitness I think horses retain what they learn even if you have gaps in between. I am glad that you are conquering that end. I think you and I are on parallel paths in terms of the sporadic riding and spooky corner. :)

    1. I'm not worried about him remembering stuff - I'm more concerned with getting him to relax. I haven't done enough with him yet to know what it takes to get his brain in a good space. Don't know if it's just comfort in the environment or needing to be worked down. Still need to figure him out.

  3. Aw, glad you had such a productive week!! The winter weather has really put a damper on things, I agree - slow and steady tho!!

    1. It was a glimmer of hope in this long, cold period that January has been.