This and That, and Pictures

I haven’t written much lately. Obviously. Quite a bit of stuff happening, but I’ve just been a bit cranky and haven’t felt like inflicting my bad mood on the world. The weather has been atrocious for months. Snow and ice everywhere, which has severely limited what I can do with the horses. But the temperatures have finally gone above freezing.

Dressy came home on Monday. She and Brooke have been getting along very well together. But unfortunately Brooke was not getting along so well with the boarding barn. And whether it was a consequence of that situation or a lack of attention to the problem, or just being cheap (they charge $750 a month so you would think….) I don’t know. But Dressy really wasn’t being fed enough. She’s not in terrible condition, but she’s leaner than I like to see her. Apparently the barn staff didn’t like Dressy either. Which I wasn’t too happy about. She’s a sweet mare with people. It’s just horses that she grinds beneath her queenly hooves.

Dressy checking out her territory with Diego and King devotedly following her Highness
Dressy checking out her territory with Diego and King devotedly following her Highness

We do have another place in mind to send her (not nearly so fancy, but with someone that I know and trust), so that Brooke can continue on with her. But it will be another month or two before she can go. In the meantime she can lord it over the geldings and they will like it. She seems very cheerful and full of herself.

Dressy
Dressy

With the improvement in the weather, all the huge snowpiles are melting. My driveway has now fallen apart. In a big way. I took the horse trailer out yesterday for a short trip down to the farm to do some trailer training with the young thoroughbreds (Reno and Al). And coming home, I got the truck and trailer buried in the muck. We managed to completely block the main driveway for about an hour. Luckily we have been getting piles of free wood chips from a local tree service and were able to shore up the whole mess enough to finally shift the rig. But it’s quite a mess.

On Saturday, I am taking McCool to a charity fundraiser for Canter On, the rescue that twisted my arm into bringing him home. We are supposed to do two demos. The first will be a talk about assessing problem horses (McCool had some behavioral issues that are what got him into trouble in the first place). I’ve written out an outline of what I think riders should look at before they label a horse as just having a bad attitude. Things like pain, fear, badly fitting tack, teeth/bitting, bad training or lack of training, conformation or lack of fitness, etc.

The second demo is a clicker training session with McCool. He does love clicker. But he’s kind of a pushy, enthusiastic guy. He was like that before the clicker, and we’ve actually made quite a bit progress with it. He’s a lot more polite than he was at first. But I hope that he maintains a reasonably gentlemanly demeanor through the demo. I don’t want the audience to think that he’s become that way because of the training. I wish the weather had been better this winter. With all the ice, I’ve really only been able to work with him inside the barn, which is a bit limiting. And he hadn’t been ridden since November.

I have been riding him this week though, and he’s been very good. He had one moment the first day where he hiked a little bit when I first got on and put my right leg on him. That’s the side where he had two ribs out, and he was very goosey there before the chiropractic treatment. When he hiked, I put my leg back on and just held it there with light pressure until he figured out that there wouldn’t be any pain. After that, he was fine and went forward happily. Forward being the key word. He likes to move and has lots of energy. And it’s not nervous energy either. He loves to explore.

With everything melting this week, the grey horses are looking pretty disgusting. McCool is getting dirtier by the minute. I have no idea how I will get him presentable for this event. One way or another, he’s bound to embarrass me!

Can you tell that I’m nervous about the demo? It’s not exactly that I’m afraid to speak in front of an audience. I’ve been teaching at OCTRA clinics for years (Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association). But I’m so familiar with that material that I don’t need to prepare. This one I had to really sit down and organize my thoughts. I’m sure we will be fine once we’re there. But in the meantime, I’m fussing.

Here are some random photos that I’ve been taking lately…

King
King
Diego
Diego
Ella (Spanish Lady). Veronica's Standardbred mare.
Ella (Spanish Lady). Veronica’s Standardbred mare.
Bandit. A friend's cat.
Bandit. A friend’s cat.
A friend's very friendly cat. Snorkely.
A friend’s very friendly cat. Snorkely.

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One of the Ladies
One of the Ladies

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Playing With McCool

SAMSUNG CSCThe snow is reaching outrageous levels here (at least for southern Ontario).  It’s been drifting in across the open field in front of my place. The plow truck is no longer able to deal with it (although it must be said that there could be some operator incompetency involved – I think maybe snowplow drivers in the GTA lack practice with, you know… ‘snow’?). There are huge snow piles between and covering my driveway (or what’s left of my driveway) and the house and barn.  We have to climb banks to get to the cars.  My truck is completely stranded on the house side of the snow mountain.   So we’ve got a front end loader coming in sometime in the next couple of days to try to clear it away. At this point, the hay is running low, and we’d have to lug the bales up over snowbanks and wade to the path to the barn with them, one at a time. So I really hope the loader comes before the hay.

McCool, despite the intimidating piles of snow, has made a couple of breaks for it lately when we haven’t been careful. He’s a very adventurous guy. Shooting across the ice in front of the barn, up over the drift, across the next ice patch, and over the snow mountain to the plowed section of driveway. Wahoo! Then he skids a few times on the ice before returning to the sound of food rattling in a bucket.

Since he seems so determined to explore the world, I took him for a walk today. Just in hand. No riding. Even walking it’s pretty scary footing. The plow cleared the main drive back down to glare ice.

McCool is one of those horses who barges through life cheerfully, mowing down anything in his path. That would include humans if they were foolish enough to get in his way. So that’s what we are working on currently. Good leading manners. Teaching him that humans need a space bubble around them.  He’s quite willing, just uneducated and not particularly sensitive. I’ve already done some work with him, but that was a couple of months ago. So we had a refresher today. His job is to maintain his position, no matter what I do. I want the middle of his neck exactly parallel with my shoulder while I’m walking, and an arm’s length of space between us.

To do this, I start by walking forward and then stop. First just one step and stop before his attention drifts off. If he stops with me, I click and reward. This pretty much gets him locked right on to me like a laser. I keep repeating a few steps and stop. He has to be paying attention and stop with me. I don’t reward him if he gets ahead of me.  I just ask him to move back into position beside me before carrying on with a couple of steps and stop again.  If he won’t move back into the correct position, I do not move, and I don’t struggle with him. I send him forward around me in a circle until he comes back to where he should be. Then carry on.

Once he stops reliably, I make it a bit harder. I stop and step back. If he’s learned the lesson that I think he’s learned, he’ll step back with me, keeping the middle of his neck exactly parallel to my shoulder, and not swinging his hindquarters outward.

With a horse like McCool, who is very confident, I have to be very careful to feed for position. That means that I must stretch my arm out, and put my closed hand where I want his head to be (not pushing into my space, facing straight forward, with the middle of his neck beside me) before I open my hand.  This teaches the horse that mugging the human is pointless. The food is going to be “over there”, away from the human.  If they are going to mug you, or come into your space, it will happen when you back up. Because instead of stepping straight back, parallel to the human, they will tend to want to swing their hindquarters out and just turn inwards to follow with their head.

The next step is speed changes. So I walk slow, then fast. If he speeds up to maintain his position, I click/treat.  (If he gets ahead of me, I stop, plant my feet, and reposition him.)  Then try slow… fast… stop. Then try jogging. That always seems to surprise them the first couple of times.  I usually introduce the cue “ready?” at this point. So I’ll say “ready?” just before I start. (This turns into a verbal cue – “ready? trot!” that I use when trotting my horse for the vets in competition. ) Initially when we jog, it’s only a couple of steps and stop. I’m not looking for speed. Just want two or three steps of trot with the horse maintaining that position exactly parallel to me. It’s really important that I know exactly where I want the horse to be in relation to my shoulder and only reward exactly that position. I use a visual reference point. Like being able to just barely see the point of shoulder out the corner of my eye. That’s what makes them understand the exercise. If I am vague about where I want them, they don’t really ‘get’ what I’m asking for. And even with a treat, they will begin to either get frustrated or just lose interest in what the stupid human is unable to explain to them. Precision and timing are really important, just as they are in all horse training.

Usually when I practice this stuff, I do some circles and turns. But with the ice, we could only find a few spots where we could even jog a couple of steps.  McCool seems to be careful and good with his feet. So his slips were just small and controlled. But it was probably stretching it even to do what we did. It’s just been driving me crazy not to do anything though.

McCool is highly food motivated, and being an Arab, also highly interested in interacting with humans. So he’s all over this clicker training thing. He reminds me a lot of King when I’m working with him. Very intense, and so quick to learn new things that he sometimes jumps way ahead of my lesson plan.  Today, he was really good. By the end of the session, he was in flowing in perfect lock-step with me.  He hasn’t forgotten anything that we’ve worked on, and was just thrilled to be out hiking around. He is not the least bit interested in what those boring horses at home are doing. He is not, in any way, a nervous, herd-bound horse.

I’m not fooling myself into thinking that McCool is always going to be totally easy. He has quite a few opinions of his own.  But I’m really getting to like him a lot. He is confident, smart, and forward. And since he’s had his teeth done, and the chiro and massage work, he’s been exhilarated with life. It’s fun to see just how darned happy he is these days.

[P.S. For anyone who is not familiar with clicker training… no, I don’t feed treats constantly and forever. I use clicker training to teach new behaviours, and to reinforce periodically thereafter.  And I teach good treat-taking manners first, before focusing on other things. Usually with target training (teaching them to touch a target from the other side of a fence, wall, or gate).  ]

 

 

 

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Checking In On Dressy

My Standardbred mare, Dressy, went over to live with Brooke at the beginning of January. Brooke rode Dressy in competition for one season a couple of years ago, and the two of them got on remarkably well. Dressy likes to be worshipped. And Brooke worships. A match made in heaven.

Getting tacked up. Lots of purple going on there.
Getting tacked up. Lots of purple going on there.

She spent a week or so just working with Dressy on the ground before starting to ride her again. I think there were a few moments of more than optimal excitement in the first few rides. Brooke made the mistake of thinking that Dressy would be calmer in the arena if there were other horses. Then decided to try cantering the mare while all the other horses were cantering. Ex-racehorses are not always so good at calmly proceeding, at speed, in a crowd. However, Brooke managed to deal with her and decided that perhaps riding alone was a better idea after all.  At least for now.

Dressy and Brooke

Yesterday I went over to observe a riding session in the arena. Jen and Anastasija came with me. I took my camera. But of course it was very dark in the barn and in the arena. I took lots of photos and most are so grainy and dark that I couldn’t really rescue much, even with Photoshop.  But I post them here purely as evidence, not art 🙂

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Dressy seemed happy to see me (or the carrot I was feeding her maybe). But I think she was just as pleased to see Brooke when she showed up. Apparently my horse doesn’t need me at all.  She’s looking good. Freshly trimmed feet, glossy coat, and in very good cheer.

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She was good in the arena. A little speedy at first, but Brooke got her dialed down within a few minutes.  She walked her until she stretched her head down and relaxed. Brooke commented that she never had to put any leg on the mare to get her to go. Nope. That’s for sure.  All you do with Dressy is think about trotting, and away she goes in a huge Standardbred power trot.   After some walk/trot work, Brooke finally pulled out the big trick. The thing that had her glowing with pride. Dressy. Cantering. “Good MARE!” I said, out loud, and Dressy’s head whipped around to look at me inquiringly. Jen and Ana both cheered and Dressy looked over at them too, ears perked. “Oh yeah? Yeah! I AM a good mare!” She marched over to me for a scratch and then carried on. She does love an audience. 

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I was impressed. She couldn’t hold the canter, but she stepped into it almost every time Brooke asked. A couple of times she made it right down the long side and around the end before it fell apart.  It’s not a good canter yet. But it’s far better than I expected after this much of a layoff.   I didn’t see her pace even once tonight. Not that she paces under saddle much, but if you ask for canter when she’s feeling tense, it’s a toss-up whether you’ll get pace or canter. So the sheer volume of canter steps tells me that Dressy is feeling calm and confident with Brooke.

She has her going over a very small set of cross-poles too. Dressy doesn’t appear to be at all concerned about the jumping thing. She was always a very confident jumper on trail, going over logs and banks. So I expect that she’ll do fine once she figures out the mechanics. I tried to get decent photos, but it was just way too dark in the spot with the little jump.

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After she was done riding, Brooke hopped off and stripped the tack to do some groundwork. Dressy was very attentive (clicker training will do that) and very cheerfully practiced a few things. Primarily the new trick they are working on… a bow.

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Brooke’s mother asked me if I missed Dressy. She seemed a bit surprised by how emphatically Jen, Anastasija, and I all replied in unison, “YES!”  She’s a mare with a huge and quite endearing personality. Despite how much I love The Queen though, she is having a great time with Brooke, and getting some very valuable schooling.  She cannot be a distance horse anymore due to her metabolic issues with heat. Horses that lack a career are horses at risk. She’s a strong, athletic, intelligent mare with a big engine and a bit of spook. Not to mention that she’s a Standardbred pacer, which turns most riders off before they even see her. That’s not a recipe for a safe backyard trail horse or a school horse for beginners. While I certainly don’t plan on it, if something should happen to me, this could be her ticket to safety.

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But Does She Canter?

Dressy’s new barn offers coaching as well as boarding. So when Brooke told the coach about Dressy, he asked if she was a pacer. Which of course, Dressy was when she raced. Pacing is a natural gait. Standardbreds from the pacing lines are bred for it, just like other gaited breeds (Tennessee Walkers, Rocky Mountain Horses, etc.)  And Dressy never cantered or galloped when turned out in the pasture. She paced faster than the Arabs could gallop.

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Dressy had a reasonably long career on the track (76 races, 12 wins). So she spent quite a lot of time in a bridle with an overcheck. That encourages a very upside-down and hollow outline (nose up, neck straight, back hollowed). In order to perform the pace, a horse has to stiffen their back muscles, so the overcheck just exaggerates that tendency.

I usually rode Dressy in a loosely fitted running martingale so that she would get a mild reminder to drop her head when she went into her upside-down mode.  In the beginning that happened fairly often. And the earliest pictures I have of her under saddle show a long, gawky outline.

I never tried to force Dressy into a frame. I just worked on encouraging relaxation and a low head. She’s a very responsive mare, and just telling her “good girl!” whenever she relaxed and dropped her head made a huge difference. (Do NOT look at my footwear! At least I am wearing a helmet. Sigh.)

Dressy

Dressy was always able to trot. But the canter was elusive for a few years. We sort of backed into it by learning at first to gallop wildly up hills. It was riding with Arabs (who canter easily and often!) that triggered it. The steeper the hill, the harder it was for Dressy to keep up at either trot or pace. The first couple of breaks were just awful. Crazy eggbeater gait with Dressy’s head straight up and eyes full of alarm. She was just amazed when I said “Good GIRL!!!” and hugged her wildly.  “Really? I was SUPPOSED to do that???”

Over time, I was able to get her galloping in a more controlled way with correct leg sequences.  And bit by bit we got it slowed down. It was kind of four-beat (it should be three), and she could not sustain it for long distances. But it was available on cue.  One of the more interesting consequences was that she started cantering and galloping with the other horses in the pasture.  I’d never seen it until a couple of weeks after her first real gallop up a hill under saddle.

Eventually Brooke took over riding Dressy for a season. She did some work in the ring and focused on getting Dressy a little rounder. She used the clicker to really encourage Dressy to frame up a little bit. It still wasn’t collected, or even truly round. But it was a lot rounder than she started out anyway.

 

I rode her for a couple of seasons after that, and her muscling kept changing. She looks like a whole different horse now than when she came out of racing.  One day a friend looked at her, shook her head, and said “You’ve turned that mare into a Thoroughbred!” I suspect, mind you, that Dressy was actually trying to become an Arab… She does the Arab head fling and flipped tail thing with distinctly Arabian panache.

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Brooke turned her out in the arena last night and took a couple of very short video clips of her. The new coach happened to come in while she was careening around. And Brooke was able to say, smugly, “See? She canters!”

 

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Spook Busting

I ride Arabs. And much as it pains me to admit it, since I love Arabs, they can be a little bit spooky.  Not all of them, and not all the time. But they are definitely not dull horses.

Consequently, I do spend some time working out spooking issues. I’ve been reading a lot of training books lately, and watching the occasional video too. I really enjoyed this particular series of videos on spook training from Jason Webb, who is an Australian trainer now based in the UK. His specialty is starting young horses.

It’s a very quiet, methodical set of strategies that starts on the ground, and then moves on to ridden work.

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Teeth

Dressy has been showing signs of problems with her teeth over the last few days. Crossing her jaws, wadding hay, and most alarming of all, her face swelled up quite badly. So when Kathy, our dentist/vet came today, I was expecting her to find work to be done in Dressy’s mouth.

Once she got in there though, there wasn’t anything serious. Just some sharp edges and evidence that Dressy had bitten her cheek on one side. She’s a very thin-skinned and sensitive mare, despite being tall, dark, and imposing. So I guess that’s what the swelling was about… biting her own cheek.

After Dressy, we brought out McCool. I figured we’d find some work to do in his mouth too, although he hasn’t really shown any overt signs of discomfort. But in fact, he had a lot more nasty stuff going on than Dressy had. Most of his teeth were razor sharp, and he has scarring and divots all the way up the inside of both cheeks, and was only able to grind in one direction. He must have been quite uncomfortable. He’s probably never had his teeth done in his life.

Although I’m not exactly happy that McCool had so many problems in his mouth, it’s nice to be able to identify things that can be fixed.  It pays to go through a checklist of all the various possible pain issues a horse can have before you blame bad behaviour on a bad temperament.

McCool was quite cooperative about the whole process. He’s a sweetheart to handle.

 

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McCool on Trail

A friend and I took Diego and McCool to the Vivian Forest today. McCool has been very good under saddle so far. But this was a little more of a test. Since he came from the stockyards, via a dealer, there’s very little history on him. All I know is that he was occasionally very difficult on trail. So Chrystal came over and we loaded up the two horses.

First though, I had to convince the Ladies to vacate the the horse trailer…

Evicting the Ladies.
Evicting the Ladies.

 

It suddenly occurred to me on Monday, while planning this outing, that a little trailer loading practice might be in order for McCool, before I tried to take him anywhere (Yep, I’m a genius).  My trailer is an old four horse head-to-head. So the first few loading sessions can be confusing for a horse. They have to walk in, turn, and then back into a stall. With a couple of days of practice, McCool was loading quite nicely. He’s very calm about things, so it’s just a matter of teaching him what to do. And convincing him that it’s a good idea. He doesn’t panic or fuss. Just politely declines if he disagrees. Patience and some clicker training, and he now loads right up.

He stands quietly in the trailer, and although he looked interested in his surroundings when we arrived in the parking lot at the forest, he was not at all alarmed.  We tacked up and headed out. Chrystal on McCool. She started laughing right away. She’s a forward kind of rider. And, zoom! McCool is a forward kind of horse. They trotted out of the parking lot. Trotted down the trail. Cantered down the trail. McCool didn’t spook at a thing. His ears were up, and he was travelling on very steadily. Bold as brass. He’s way faster than Diego. Holy cow.  I had to beg for mercy, since Diego was not at all interested in doing that speed (in fairness, Diego has a fresh cut on a hind leg… I think he was a bit sore).

Partway through the ride though, we ran into McCool’s issue (hopefully there is only one). He started hiking his hind end going down a hill. We slowed down and took stock. He swishes his tail, pins his ears, and hikes on every downhill. Hmmm.  Saddle fit seems likely. He’s fine on the flat and going up hills (in fact, I’d say that he’s a born endurance horse… so he’s better than just fine!). But on the downhills he very consistently gets grumpy and difficult. Chrystal got off and led him down any bigger downhills and got him to walk slowly down the smaller ones and that seemed to work okay. The aussie saddle has long flaps, and on some horses it will pinch a bit behind the shoulder if the saddle slides forward. And it did look like it might be doing that on him.

When we got back to the trailer, we checked him over.  He has a knot on his left side just behind the scapula. And it’s substantial. He’s reactive (flinchy) to hard pressure there, and enjoyed the massage (Chrystal is an equine massage therapist). So my operating theory now is that he had a serious saddle fit issue in his past.

I’ve ridden him at home in the Aussie, but not going down hills. And I’ve ridden him at home in the treeless, and he went down hills fine in that. So maybe just switching saddles will help. But he also acted like this in a Reactor Panel saddle that the dealer was using. So I think he needs body work as well. Massage, stretching, and/or chiropractic.  Chrystal says his shoulders are both tight.

The dentist comes tomorrow to look at all the horses’ teeth. I think he’s got something going on in his mouth, since he’s clunking in one direction when he chews. So if that gets sorted out, it may also help. He seems to be worth putting some time and effort into 🙂

I neglected to take pics on trail, but here they are right after they got home. Sigh.  Grey horses. 

Grey horses. Perennially filthy.
Grey horses + wet clay soil = Yuck.

 

 

 

On the Buckle

I don’t seem to have had too much to write about lately. But I did have a nice moment with Diego on Sunday. Was riding in the Vivian with friends. One of the horses was green. Really very green. He bounced around on the trail like a pinball, careening from side to side.  So we tucked him in behind Diego, and Diego just ambled along the trail on a loose rein. Whenever Indy (the wild child behind us) got too ambitious and tried to careen past us, I asked Diego to step over and block. Which he did with perfect aplomb.

Diego really doesn’t have confidence in the lead. But he also walks really fast. So he slows down until the horse behind passes, then gets impatient and passes again when he discovers that horse is too slow.  I ask everyone who rides with me to tell me when they want to pass, so that I can ask Diego to slow up… as opposed to allowing Diego to make his own decisions about it all. On Sunday he only tried it a couple of times and then just marched along out front the rest of the day. So I think his confidence is coming along nicely.

Riding Diego in the Vivian Forest
Riding Diego in the Vivian Forest… Veronica and Ella ahead of me.

Veronica and Ella spent most of the day riding drag (at the back of the line). It’s safer that way, since Ella has not yet learned the “no kicking other horses” rule (actually, I think she knows it… she just hasn’t accepted it quite yet). But it’s really her only flaw. She is rock steady on trail. Veronica’s confidence has blossomed this summer, riding that mare. They are becoming a very good team. 

At one point we let Indy lead for a while to see how he coped. I think that little gelding would’ve gone off alone perfectly happily. One of these days, he’s going to make a terrific little endurance horse.  Unfortunately though, going down a very steep downhill, in deep sand, with quite a bit of erosion, there was a tack incident. Stirrup and breast collar somehow tangled, and the resulting chaos sent Indy off trail… cartwheeling downhill. Indy got loose and galloped off, with his buddy, Zoe, following a bit too fast for her rider’s comfort. 

Diego and I watched all this in wide-eyed horror. I decided that a cavalry charge down a steep sandy hill was not in anyone’s best interest, and asked Diego to walk. He tucked his behind under him, and carefully walked down. No fussing or rushing. Ella was following safely behind us (Ella never thinks rushing is a good idea). He stopped at the bottom and stood calmly on a loose rein while Indy galloped off in all directions for a few minutes before his brain re-engaged and he elected to return to his rider.  

During all this chaos, a large, obnoxious woman on a Percheron bellowed unhelpful instructions to slow down and demanded to know where our trailers were (my friend finally lost her temper and told the woman to mind her own business). It turned out that Zoe’s bridle had come partially undone, so that’s why her brakes stopped working. And both Indy and his rider were fine.  In fact I think the rest of us were a lot more shaken up than either of them. The large woman went off in a huff, informing us that we should not call her if we ever needed help. Sigh.

I really do not enjoy that sort of craziness. It’s not good for the horses or the riders’ confidence. But it was a bit of a test, and Diego (and Ella) passed with flying colours. He’s getting steadily more confident, quieter, and much more responsive to leg and rein. It is nice to feel like you are riding the most reliable horse in the crowd 🙂

Genius Pony

So… it’s kind of amazing really. But Venice has gone through something of a sea change in the last couple of weeks. She is now learning very quickly.

There is still a ton of work to do of course. She is very head shy, so I have to be very slow and deliberate when I’m clipping a lead shank to her halter. And I cannot touch her face yet. It’s okay if she makes the choice to touch me (and she does that often). But it must be her choice. The pressure is too great if I reach towards her. But I can touch her cheek now, and can take hold of the halter by the throatlatch. So there is progress on that front too.

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She is leading much more reliably now, and has not startled away or tried to bolt for a week or two. I can draw her towards me and back her away (either with a touch to the chest, or just by walking into her space).

In the last couple of days, she has learned several voice cues… “walk”, “trot”, and “whoa”. Trot and whoa seem to be solid already. The walk cue is a bit harder, but it’s obvious she understands it, she just has a bit more energy than is optimal for a walk and sometimes breaks up to a trot, especially when she’s a bit tense.

Her circles to the left are excellent. Round, relaxed and forward. She keeps her focus tightly on me, no matter what else is going on. Her inside ear is locked on all the time. She is soft, light, and nicely bent.

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Her circles to the right are more difficult for her. But they have improved tremendously, and are now mostly round. She’s not totally relaxed, and so is not going freely forward yet (though markedly better each day). But she is moving on as long as I encourage her periodically. And even though she’s unsure going to the right, she’s still very focused on me, and responds to to the voice cues.

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She is really a little darling!

Venice’s Papers are Reinstated

So the DNA tests have come back, and Venice has had her registration papers reinstated. She is who she is supposed to be. Sire and dam are both correct. The breeder had sent in hair samples from her full sister instead of Venice. So once I sent in a new sample, it sorted everything out. It also sorted out Venice’s daughter’s registration, since she’d had her registration denied (that’s how this all started… when Savannah’s owner tried to register her). The registry is mailing the papers out.

I haven’t done much with her lately. Last week was too hot, and I was not so energetic after Flesherton. But today I had a short little session with her to get her training back on track. She is a very soft little mare, now that we are past being panic-stricken all the time. Extremely responsive even (which is the silver lining of over-the-top reactive). She is more and more willing to take a carrot from my hand, so I hope to start clicker training with her soon. But so far, the risk of taking food from a human hand is more risk than reward for her.

Here’s a few seconds of video from today. Her dapples are not really visible, but I think the gorgeous metallic gleam of her coat sort of comes through. She’s not very big, but she’s got the trot of a much bigger horse. So with the trot, the brilliant light bay colour, and all the chrome, she’s pretty flashy isn’t she? Just don’t look at her feet too closely since they are dreadfully in need of a trim. They are starting to chip off now that she’s getting more turnout though.