Sunday, October 02, 2011

Defeating the Prance

I went to the barn with one goal in mind. I was going to address the prance issue. I was going to be effective but even-tempered. I was going to respond consistently and without emotion to every transgression. There was going to be no forgiveness, but no punishment either. Only logical consequences.

Brian and I also decided to be a bit more independent than we've been lately. The big pasture is 13 acres with lots of big rolling hills. That's a lot of space for two horses, and we ride together a lot. After we rode out into the pasture together, I told Brian to feel free to do his own thing. Because I was going to address the prancing issue, which meant I probably wasn't going to be covering a lot of ground.

Sure enough, as soon as Bear walked off Steen started to lose it. He wanted to trot off in pursuit. I dusted off my one-rein stop and soft feel and every time he shifted from walk to jog I stopped him with one rein, then let him stand for a minute, asked for a feel, then told him to walk.

It was a hard ride, though I am happy to say at least I think it was harder on Steen than me. He was upset about being separated from Bear, and upset about having to listen even though he was separated from Bear. But I was mentally prepared. I didn't care that it took 15 false starts to get from the bottom corner where Brian and Bear left us to the top of the hill.

Once on the hilltop, I asked for a trot and that was horrible so we kept at it until he relaxed and gave me the semblance of a normal gait. Then we loped a while and that was ok. He was veering a lot and being lazy in the turns, and once he stumbled and I thought he was going to fall over.

Finally he calmed down on the hilltop and I turned to ask him to head home. He tried to pick up the trot a few more times on the way home, so again I worked him pretty hard right in front of the gate that leads back to the outdoor arena. Here he finally settled and was giving me a really nice trot. He transitioned down to the walk when I asked, then walked without charging or getting pushy back to home. So although it was a rough ride, I finished up feeling like we made some progress.
Ride Time: 1:10

I was curious to see if all my hard work paid off at all and I must say I was impressed at the change in Steen today. We did a similar ride to yesterday, except Brian and I stayed a bit closer together. Steen was a different horse. He didn't pick up the trot unasked a single time. I never had to employ the one-rein stop. We started with backing half circles around each other, went from there to the hilltop where we trotted some patterns and I also got off to just pet Steen and let him rest for a while, and take some photos of Brian.

At the trot Steen was a little braced up and nervous, but he did relax as we kept at it.

Then Brian and I worked on an exercise where we mirrored each other stopping and turning along the fence-line, but Bear wasn't super into that so we stopped before too long. Finally we headed home and Steen walked like a champ all the way back to the barn.

So, those last couple of rides were pretty tough, but hopefully this was just a hiccup and our future rides will be more like today's.
Ride Time: 1:00

Horseback hours YTD: 75:25

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