Sunday, March 16, 2014

Aiden Assessment

We've had Aiden and Oliver for just over a week now, and things continue to go well. For the first several days, I worked with Aiden and Brian worked with Oliver.

Aiden has a sweet temperament with a slight inclination towards anxiety. His initial pushiness and tendency to want to walk on top of you have not resurfaced since the first day. He enjoys facepets and has an endearing habit of nickering when he sees you coming.

Our groundwork has made consistent progress. I can now move all of his feet with a light ask, disengage front and hind, and have him walk off in both directions without causing him any worry. It's a little harder for him to disengage in one direction than the other, but we're practicing and he's already gotten a little smoother.

Although not spooky, Aiden can get anxious about environmental factors. Most particularly, other horses coming into the arena have an impact on his ability to stay focused on his rider. Two rides in a row, we were joined partway through by a rider with a horse that's fairly dominant in the stall herd. As soon as the new horse arrived, Aiden really wanted to keep an eye on him at all times. He'd try to crane towards the other horse no matter what direction we were going.

I worked on trying to re-engage him in ways that were supportive, but it took a few attempts to find something that worked. After a circle proved to be not enough of a challenge and a small figure-eight proved to increase his agitation, I was able to get him into a pretty good rhythm working on a rectangle - going forward, left, back, right. Once I was able to get him back with me, the extra horse became less of a distraction.

Aiden also has some anxiety about the bit. He has a tendency to want to escape backwards when you ask him to try something he doesn't know the answer to. Every now and then, he'll go the opposite way, and fling himself onto pressure.

A few rides in, though, this is improving. I've been working a lot on softness, starting with asks so light the only thing he feels is a little rotation in the slobber straps, and waiting until he breaks at the poll. He's starting to relax. Our last ride, he would soften to the bit both standing and at the walk with good consistency. His mouth was also really busy the first ride, but by the third it had quieted down a good deal. So hopefully that means he's starting to trust that nothing is going to bite him in the mouth.


So, I remain pretty excited about these guys. It's great to see Aiden's confidence increase each day. The main thing he needs to do now is put on some weight. We're supplementing his free choice hay diet and making sure his work is super light for now. The first couple days in the new herd, he got a little thinner, but as of today he seems to have started to move in the other direction.

We also measured him. He's a solid 15.2. Which means he's our tallest horse.


Horseback Hours YTD: 42:50

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