Friday, November 7, 2008

Always training

I've been kind of annoyed with Champ lately because he is the laziest most bombproof horse I've ever met. I mean, that's good and all because he is so rarely scared or upset by anything. But it's bad because he's sooooo reluctant to go forward. At any speed. With any impulsion.

But ehhh, that's entirely my fault. He is not out of shape or lame (although he acts like both if he thinks it'll help), therefore it's a training issue. And even with the best horse (or dog, or husband, or kid) you're always training reactions by your own actions. I thought back on it and yep, I've definitely been letting him get away with ignoring me or just responding like molasses in winter.

So today, I rode. At my speed, dammit. We walked sedately through the ... fffff, I need to come up with names for the parts of the land. We walked through the first field, which has a nicely groomed double-loop system. There's a gate to the south separating this first field from the field-where-the-horses-live, then a second gate at the north leading off into the woods trails. As soon as we stepped through the half-open north gate, I said "trot" and squeezed. Champ completely ignored me, so I whapped him sharply on the neck with my rein ends. His ears shot back in total surprise and he trotted off with alacrity.

I kept him at a trot til we got to a muddy downward slope, where I let him pick his own speed down the hill. We came out onto another nice grassy trail near the duck lake, and I squeezed and said "trot" again. This time he flicked his ears back, so I waited one whole second then whapped him again. SHOCKING! He trotted right off and stayed in gait til we hit a muddy hill and I let him slow down.

The third time I squeezed and said trot, he damn well trotted right off. I was really pleased. We worked a little on sharpening up his turns - I don't care if he rubbernecks down the path that will lead us home as long as his body goes down the path I choose when I lay a leg on and neckrein him.

There wasn't much to see today besides some beautiful leaves. Before yall all quit your jobs and move down here, I must confess this is one of the most beautiful picture-perfect falls we've ever had. Seriously, it's usually 80s/60s til some time in late November, when that stupid arctic jet stream comes whizzing down like a freight train and all of a sudden it's WINTER. (And by "winter" I mean lows in the 30s, possibly dipping below freezing!) Last year wasn't this nice because the drought was so horrible everything was dead by August.

I took some cell phone pics but they didn't come out very well. Cam phones and horses don't really mix.

When we headed back out of the woods, I made Champ trot the entire loop in the first field. From the north gate along the fenceline to the south gate then gasp without stopping back up to the north gate. He sloooowed down a lot as we turned north again but did, in fact, trot away from his field without pitching a fit. Then we walked the loop one more time to cool off and headed back to the truck.

He had a sweaty girth. Yep. Poor horse, all that winter fur, all that horrible trotting, and all he had to show for it was a sweaty girth. My heart is bleeding, can't you tell?


  1. Champ sounds like Twist, the Wonder horse. He can do everything very well--but why bother?

  2. That sounds familiar here, too. Roxie huffs and puffs like she is DYING and doesn't even hardly sweat. Her puffy coat hardly even takes on the quilted shapes in the saddle pad.


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