Monday 8 July 2024


Stitch has been learning to do big boy things. And he's done them all with little to no drama.

We are still a couple of months away from me actually sitting on his back - he doesn't officially turn 3 until the last week of July - but we've been working on things that will hopefully make that day easy.

A couple of weeks ago we started ground driving. This meant wearing a surcingle and a tight belt for the first time. The wearing of the surcingle was no biggie - no bucks at all. The tightening of said surcingle wasn't his favorite.  Not that he was really bad about it, he just walked circles around me. I gave him a couple of days of this then used clicker training to encourage him to stand still. He figured it out right away.

He's worn a saddle - it was just so I could figure out if I will need to get a shorter girth for him. I think that my multitude of 26" options will work this fall.

This kid is smart. And food motivated. He loves positive reinforcement. Especially the kind that ends with a cookie in his mouth.

We've also been working on lining up to the mounting block. He got the idea pretty quickly, but not quite right. He was always one step too far back and his butt was swung away - all the better to make the mouth cookie-accessible. But he knew that the mounting block was the place to be, often stumbling over the steps in his eagerness to get there.

To get him to swing his butt towards me, we went away from the block and used the method where I tap his butt with a dressage whip, and reward him when he steps towards me. Some horses find this difficult to figure out as they only want to move away from the whip, but the idea is that you keep tapping until they take the slightest step towards you and then take the whip pressure off. Clicker training works really well with this method - they figure it out really quickly.

Sure enough, Stitch figured it out fast. On the second day, I tapped him once with the whip, then just held it up and he continued to swing his butt towards me.  Smartypants.

He was so proud of his new trick, that for the next few days, every time I stood next to him he swung his butt towards me in the hopes that it would earn him a reward. Or towards the person we were trying to show our new mounting block trick who was holding a poo-picking fork. Or the person in the barn I was chatting with - although that was probably more asking for butt scratches.

Now, I'm not talking swinging his butt to put you in kicking zone by any means. It's a definite attempt to line himself up with the person keeping them at his wither area, where he is supposed to line up at the mounting block. 

Much to Stitch's dismay, he doesn't get rewarded for these attempts. He only gets rewarded when he is asked for the behavior, and it's generally ignored otherwise. 

He is now starting to make adjustments at the block to get himself correctly lined up. I've also started to give him his treat on his right side by reaching over his back, which eliminates his desire to turn his butt away from me/head towards me, though does create the problem of me getting knocked off the block when his belly (which is getting rounder every day) shifts left when he bends right.


And when he's standing there, it would be so easy to slide a leg over and just sit on him....


1 comment:

  1. Such great foundational work. I love having horses that line themselves up.