Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day Four in Stop the Buck

The online course I've been using for stopping the buck in Canyon is at day four. We are refining control.

One aspect is focused on getting your horse to drop his head at a stop, then at a walk, then at a trot and, eventually, at a canter. So far I was able to get Canyon to drop his head at the walk consistently and had moved on to the trot. It took a while, but I got three consistent "head sets." (the horse pictured is a high end western pleasure horse with that low headset and nice bend at the poll). Yay!

The next thing at this stage is to work on a serpentine move, going two steps left, then two steps right, over and over making sure he relaxes his neck. I'm looking forward to working on it, only there's one problem.

I have no time. School is starting, I've had to travel for work, life has just sucked up all the free time and replaced it with a never ending to-do list. I'm heading over to the stables in the morning to brush him, fly spray him and ... that's probably it. But I'll have some mornings to myself this week and I plan on heading out and doing some riding.

A friend asked when was the last time Canyon bucked. It's been two months. But I haven't really pushed the situation either. Sure, I think he's improving and learning some control. But I've got a long way to go. I read something in a recent Parrelli newsletter (if you don't subscribe to them, you should. they're great. You can see the latest one here) that gave me a sense of how long I'll need to work on Canyon's confidence on the trail and belief in me as a leader:

Here's part of the question:
  • (I want to go on a relaxing ride...)However, my Left-Brain Introvert mare, who is normally confident and relaxed in all situations including trails, does not seem to be of the same mind. She turns into a Right-Brain Extrovert when we are alone on our trails. It's as if she's expecting a panther to pounce on her from every tree we pass! At the start of these rides she's reasonably confident, although there are numerous thresholds which occur in the first several hundred feet. We stop and calmly address each one and do not move on until she appears ready. The number of thresholds seems to diminish the further we get from the barn (and her pasturemate). However, her unconfidence increases the further we go.
This describes what happens with Canyon perfectly. I never ride him alone, both because of the buck (I think it falls in the 'ride only where you can' category), but also because I know he is very nervous if we are without a buddy, any buddy.
  • (Part of the answer) Believe it or not, you are describing what Remmer used to be like. On the trail he becomes very unconfident and behaviorally speaking becomes a Right-Brain Extrovert. After a couple of scary rides I decided that I wouldn't trail ride again until I'd moved his confidence up a lot in all areas: his self confidence, confidence as a learner, in new environments, and in me as a leader. I think you need to do the same and it happens everywhere except on the trail. I gave it a year, it may not take that long for you... but be prepared to take the time it takes.
A year. wow. Course Linda Parelli has 40 horses she can ride. And she rides nearly every day. Maybe I'll have it done in 5 years. Sigh.

She talks about some ground work then continues with a tip I'm going to try this week:
  • First of all, manage thresholds in a big way. When you get to the first one, turn around and go all the way back to the barn and then return as many times as it takes for your horse to take you over it. You may even find that the thresholds get closer at first! Do this with each one without fail. It's your investment in building confidence. I think that you've helped with each threshold but you haven't actually overcome them.
We'll see how it goes. Like all things, real progress takes time.

1 comment:

GNH said...

Dropping the head is important, because it makes the horse feel relaxed. Also take note of what kinds of pressure you may be putting on the horse, sometimes its unconscious. Squeezing to stay on is a common cause of bucking, believe it or not.