Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pale Stranger and Remedials

A tall, pale stranger came to visit me over Christmas. At nearly six feet he stood by the tree, quiet and unassuming.

Why have you come here? I asked him.

He remained quiet, and I had a sense that he felt empty. He looked outside expectantly, as if waiting for a sign of what was needed from him.

For days he was there, watching as we went about our business, watching the glow of the Christmas tree, never asking for egg nog, or a gift of his own. What he was looking for couldn't be wrapped in ribbons or paper. He needed something to fill his aching soul.

So we bolted him in the trailer.

He seems much more comfortable there. Still empty, but with a sense of purpose.



Smokey and I have been doing some remedial work over the holidays. I think of it as a form of boot camp. We are starting with standing still at the trailer.

When I asked Mark Rashid about my dancing pony, he pretty much said to let the horse work it out himself. Yet I was struck by a video where Chris Irwin showed how to teach a horse to reach that Zen like state of being still. In watching his process I could see the gentle discipline of the process. Also I don't have the hours at a clinic to tie my horse for days at a time, periodically reinforcing the experience.

For three days I would tie Smokey to the trailer and would fuss around inside the trailer tack room. If he moved from his spot I would come out and put him back in his spot, squared up. We spent about 20 minutes each time on this, during tacking, untacking, or just hanging out. He moved less and less. Lesson one - about 70% complete.

We are also working on catering in the round pen. I've been nervous about round pen cantering. The round pen at our barn feels small and I've focused only on cantering in the arena. But, with some encouragement, I got to work on it. He's getting more steady at his slow lope, I'm getting better at riding out his transitions, the transitions are improving. Lesson two - about 30%.

Steering is still inconsistent, but improving slowly, slowly, slowly. We trot around the power pole, and by circle 7 we are actually turning. I'd say this needs more intervention. Lesson three - about 10%.

Boot camp will continue when we return from our trip to my Dad's. Maybe the soak will do some good.

15 comments:

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

You know, the funny thing is that my horse trailer came fully loaded with a water tank, and I fill it up before trail rides, but even when I pour the water into a bucket and offer it to the horses, they refuse to drink. I almost feel like I have to bring one of those huge 70-gallon Rubbermaid troughs with me. Your comments on my blog cracked me up.

Maery Rose said...

Sounds like you have a plan. I wish I was better at having a training plan with my horse. Lots of starting, then going backwards when the weather turns sour.

Mikey said...

I need one of those for my trailer. It's on my "list".

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

I didn't realize how nice it was to have a water tank in the trailer until I started using the one in the LQ. Now I am definitely going to get one for the stock trailer. It used to be so easy to find water hydrants at filling stations when traveling and that seems to have become a thing of the past. Now I never worry.

I'm a believer in both methods of teaching a horse to stand patiently. Like everything, it just depends on the horse. Some just need to work through a bit of impatience on their own. Some need to be shown how to do it.

aurora said...

A welcomed pale stranger, nice! I know the feeling of working in small(er) spaces. Sounds like things are progressing nicely with Smokey!

Crystal said...

Haha, you had me going with the water tank, too funny! Would love one for my trailer.

morningbrayfarm said...

But you're making progress, and that's good!!! Happy New Year Winter!

Susan said...

I know what you mean about cantering around a small feeling round pen.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Great lead up to the water tank. I chuckled when I saw the picture. Sounds like you are making good progress with young Smokey.

Rising Rainbow said...

OK, you had me going there. After my trip to Tulsa, I'm thinking I need to invest in one of these. There were times I worried about warer for sure.

The training sounds like its coming along well. Good for you!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like you and Smokey are making real progress. I could use one of those tanks for my trailer, very nice.

Wishing you and your family and critters a healthy Happy New Year!

Funder said...

Hahaha, I love it! Please tell your stranger that if he has a brother or cousin, you've got a friend in Reno who'd love to meet him. ;)

Tammy said...

I ended up getting a water tank for the back of the truck, rather than the trailer. I usually just pull my bumper pull on the local rides & this way I can use it for either trailer. But love that the tall ones like you have take up less room.

Carol said...

Steering the canter is hard. I have to really gauge carefully and give my aid quite early (several strides early) at this point.
Enjoy your water tank! We have one and it's great.
Happy New Year!

John and Regina Zdravich said...

What is the tall white stranger??? I hate to sound so stupid, but I don't know what it is.....
Glad your trailering lessons are coming along. I saw a video of Ray Hunt giving instruction on loading a reluctant horse years ago. Thankfully our horses are good about the trailer. The videos by the pros always make it look so easy. I have a feeling it is ia bit more challenging than they let on!