Friday 25 May 2018

Chill The F*@& Out

My rides on Cisco lately have been about trying to get him to just chill and relax. Hah! We all know how easy that is.

I installed a baby half-halt a couple of weeks ago, and for the most part it has stuck. He's now starting to listen to me asking him to slow down by closing my thighs first. He gets it at a walk, and we're having moments at a trot. There have been definite moments of adjustibility.

Our last ride felt like some of the pieces are coming together. The walk at the beginning of the ride was much slower, and for the most part so was the trot. It was probably helped by the presence of another horse in the arena, which hasn't happened in a bit. My goal is to be able to trot him on a long rein and have him maintain the pace that I establish. On this ride I was able to lengthen the reins a bit, but we've got a long way to go.

But training horses tends to be two steps forward, and ten steps back.

So now Cisco doesn't stand at the mounting block.

He had been doing really well with this. Standing rock solid, even after I put my butt in the saddle. Lately he starts fussing as soon as I try to stand him up. Chomping the bit, head up, head down, leaving, biting my boot.
Earlier this winter when he fussed, but stood still. Getting on with suddenly no neck in front of you is a bit disconcerting!
I figure that the whole chill attitude has to start at the mounting block to help set the tone for the ride. He's been antsy to get on, then antsy when we get going. If he's quiet when I get on, maybe he'll be quiet when we get going?

The goal has been to just stand at the block for as long as I want him to. Just standing. Which apparently is difficult for an impatient young horse. It got better over the three days that I decided to work on it last weekend, in that he did less dancing around each day before standing still. (The first day it felt like 15 minutes before I got on.)

On Wednesday I decided to do some groundwork stuff related to the mounting block since it was too hot to ride. I put a bridle on Cisco and went over to the arena. Again, he was better than he had originally been. But I wanted a way to have a bit more control over getting him to stand how I wanted.

A few weeks ago I had watched this Youtube video.

I decided to try it on Cisco.

And holy crap, it worked. Quickly.

As he mentioned in the video, yes, Cisco got bad - distracted, tried to push past me, put his teeth on my shoulder (bad decision when I have a whip in my hand bud). But he very quickly had the right idea of moving his haunches towards me.

Then it was off to the mounting block to try it. Again, he got the idea quickly. And then stood quietly.

So it looks like I might have a tool to help get Cisco to stand quietly. We'll see if it sticks this time.

Also - Phantom update - barn owner sent me a text yesterday with a picture of Phantom eating dinner along the fenceline next to the other horses. So it appears she is on her way to settling in!


  1. Interesting video! Both Cinna and Ruby have gone through phases of not wanting to stand still at the mounting block. It's such a frustrating habit, but sounds like you're overcoming it! 🙂

  2. I really like this video and his attitude

  3. Awesome that worked so well! A NH guy I’ve used for trailer loading work has a similar mounting block technique and it’s fascinating !