Monday, November 9, 2009


Oh hey, I haven't posted in half a week. If I don't write it down as soon as it happens, I forget to blog.

Thursday was an off day. Friday I had lunch with ~C down in south Reno, and it was a perfectly nice day - sunny, a few big pretty clouds, not too windy, about 60 degrees. So I headed north to ride Dixie, and either the wind came in with a vengeance or it was just locally windy up there. We boldly headed out together in 20 mph winds with gusts of about 35. Not as impressive as WHP's Wind but plenty windy for Miss Ox-Head. She was a total brat headed out, and I actually took pity on her when we got to the end of the road. We gracefully turned around and I gave the tiniest squeeze to indicate that she could walk home now, and that evil cow exploded and tried to bolt home. That just made me mad, so we careened through the sagebrush turning tight circles having a big fight. When she finally realized I was totally serious and I was not going to let her run home, she walked quite nicely back to the corner. Then we turned right instead of left, and I made her go up two hilltops. At a brisk walk, no less! Then she had to walk nicely back home. I think we turned for home three or four times before she quit trying to explode. Every time she'd start to tense up, ready to set her head and bolt home, I'd spin her around and we'd go further away. Finally, we turned for home and she kept her ears on me and her neck loose, and we walked very calmly home.

Saturday I had to go shopping so I didn't ride. I did stop at the REI garage sale, and I picked up a Garmin Forerunner 205 for $35. It needs a charging station, which I've ordered, but even so it was a steal! I may never know Dixie's heart rate, but I will soon know our distance, time, and MPH on our trips. That'll help a lot.

Sunday we all did a quick ride down to the Mines, and Dixie was quite well behaved. Better than some of the other horses, honestly. Then we humans headed over to the Clinton Anderson thingie, and S won the door prize! She now has one of each of his DVDs, and that man has put out like 30 DVDs. She is going to loan me the 6-disk gaited horse DVD, so we'll see what he has to say. Otherwise, he was really entertaining and I picked up a few new ways to think about things, but nothing earthshattering.

There's outliers like Nevzorov and those horse-tripping Mexican cowboys and Alexandra Kurland*, but most everybody else is saying the same thing in different ways. Pressure the horse til you get the desired behavior, then release instantly. Take breaks so the poor thing can calm down. Don't get tense. Clinton Anderson isn't saying anything new - he says the same stuff, in his own words, in an entertaining way. And that's good; the more different ways of pressure/release I see, the better I will get.

Today I did a double ride - Dixie and Cersei and I headed part way down the mines trail, then we cut over some hills, then we came back up the end of the mines trail. She got nervous and rushed when we cut across the hill, but we got calmed down again before we got back on the trail. Then, since she seemed so soft, I let her go home as fast as she wanted. We racked up part of the trail, trotted up another part, and cantered on the shoulder of the road. Her canter feels like flying! I hope I can start adding speed work back in - I hope she doesn't blow up on me and want to run everywhere now.

Anyway, we cantered up part of the road, then I had her slow to a walk part of the way, then I let her trot a hundred yards, then we walked back home through our sagebrush obstacle course. Doing all those unpredictable serpentines around the bushes in the lot next to S's is really helpful for both of us. I have to pay attention and ask nicely, and she usually chooses to listen and cooperate.

I timed things just right, and S had just gotten home when we got back. She saddled Summer and we headed out for another short ride, down the scenic trail. Dixie did quite well for her second trip out. The second trip was all slow, so she was dry and cool by the time we got back.

I think it's going to snow this week. Yuck.

*Yall do realize I'm not comparing Mexican horse-trippers to clicker trainers, right? Just that those three are the farthest extremes of working with horses - all pressure from one, and no pressure from the two?


  1. You are making SO much progress with that mare. I hope you're proud of yourself!

  2. sometimes you make me actually want to train a green horse. (wait, THINK! how much do i like the inside of ambulances?)

    but i see from you how rewarding it can be! you are inspiring!


  3. Actually I think there is pressure in clicker - it's just pressure to find out what you want and offer up the right behavior - not so different from the humane, non-coercive pressure that a good and thoughtful trainer puts on the horse - and I don't put all NH trainers in that humane and non-coercive camp - some of them are plenty coercive.

  4. You're becoming a real rider, making progress like that and being brave in the face of equine silliness.

    As for "WHP's wind", well the new weight loss diet isn't helping with all those vegetables.

  5. Lythia - Dixie stepped on my foot very hard once, and she dumped me that one time I was twisted around to talk to someone behind me, but other than that she hasn't hurt me!

    Kate - you're absolutely right. I was thinking of free shaping behaviors, where you just wait for the horse to offer some movement and then shape it into a desired behavior with clicks. But most clicker training does have light pressure/release!

    Julian - snicker!


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