Learning to Stand

The weather on Sunday was far too icky to go out to the Funny Farm, so I did not get my Rosey and Klondike fix this week.  This makes me sad. 

On the other hand, though, Ring-Work 101 continued with Afton, which was highly entertaining.  One would think that spending forty minutes mostly walking and stopping would be the most boring thing in the world, but it’s not so easy for our new friend, and I spent much of that time giggling.

On the positive side, he tries really, really hard to stand still.  But he seems convinced that it’s just not right- in other words… “ok, I’ll try… but shouldn’t we be moving? Why are we doing this?  You’re on my back, therefore I must… move….”

This is where you could potentially get in trouble with a horse, I think.  The line between asking him to stand still and getting in a fight over it is a fine one.  I compromise by dropping all pressure and letting him walk forward as soon as all feet are still for even a millisecond.  His tendency is to pick one foot up at a time, and sort of sidle sideways, and inch forward.  I focused on a big reward for doing the right thing, and of course never actually increasing the pressure I put on him- I think if I’d demanded more (by pulling more or setting my hands when he doesn’t stand) it could easily turn into a problem (read: if you give a horse nowhere to go, they often go up).

Fortunately, by the end of the session everything worked out really well and we had several VERY successful stands where he stood quietly on a loose rein for over five-ten seconds.

I wouldn’t want anybody to get the wrong idea- he’s not goofy, or difficult, or any of those things.  He just doesn’t understand his new job yet.  Once he’s been mounted, he thinks his job is to go, and he has good reason, as that’s what all his prior training is.  Once he’s been trotted or cantered, he thinks that’s what he’s supposed to do until he’s done and I’m off his back. 

In other news, we did work a little more on getting his body all lined up properly, especially around turns.  This is challenging enough without the added problem of me being totally crooked as a rider.  Either way, though, we managed some good work in the corners at both the walk and a little at the trot.  He’s learning he can go deep into the corners, and is responding a little more to my leg trying to keep him on the proper bend, rather than bulging a shoulder or leaning in (he does both in pretty equal measure).

My legs hurt a little from these endeavors- I think I got too used to Rosey, who seemed pretty natural with that stuff and non-wiggly.

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