If you remember in my last update I was exploring the strategy of being, well, obnoxious, with Mr. Dashing. This has continued to bring both progress and trust between us. Read below to see what we accomplished in WEEK 3.
DAY 11: I took Dashing to the outdoor arena to play again. As I am introducing new things (tools, new environments, exercises etc.) to the babies I try to remain consistent with it until they have made progress and worked towards acceptance. This was day three in the outdoor arena and Dashing finally made the shift and became both focused and comfortable out there.
I feel like Dashing is close to ready for the saddle. With that said, he is a big boy and the possibility of having to play approach and retreat with throwing the saddle up and over was a bit daunting. Remember, my hope is to over prepare them so much that the event is a non-event. With Dashing I feel like he isn’t ready for the whole enchilada yet, but definitely needs more cheese. I was able to borrow a surcingle from Erin and use this as his first experience with the cinch. I would normally use my Parelli bareback pad, however it somehow got lost in my recent move.
Dashing did great with the surcingle and was able to find rhythm and relaxation at the walk trot and canter.
DAY 12: Dashing had four days off and today he just felt different. Better. Like he had been studying his homework while I was gone. I was still committed to not tiptoe around him and made sure there were no “uh-oh” s left in there. I also checked in with our “Catch Up to the Shoulder” game to make sure he was thinking about yielding forward to pressure and not pulling backwards.
It is important to me that every horse I touch has good habits with leading and yielding off of the halter. I teach them this with the “catch up to my shoulder” game. You can view a video tutorial on this below.
Then, I put the surcingle on for the second time and he was great once again. I decided we were now ready for the whole enchilada and saddled him with my western saddle. He was great with this process and stood like a gentleman as I set my cinches. Once I sent him out he put himself through the paces and there were no bucks or big events. When he began to canter he got a little Right Brain and was going faster than his balance could manage. This led to him banging into the wall for a few strides. Thank goodness I teach the horses how to “shut down” because I was able to walk backwards and draw him in before he got too out of hand. I then let him standstill till his heart rate came down and repeated the task until he could canter without getting emotional. We did this both ways.
DAY 13: Both Lamarck and Dashing have been doing so good that I felt ready to shake things up and test our relationship once again. I had Maria work with Dashing as I worked with Lamarck. Dashing was a bit apprehensive as she approached to halter him in the field but quickly settled in. She brought him into the cross ties, groomed and tacked him with the surcingle with zero issues. I was so proud to watch him learn to trust with another person.
Valhalla has a mini playground with some hills, and various size logs to work the horses over. I saddled Lamarck right off the bat in the round pen and he was SUPER. Didn’t even flinch. I then joined Maria and began our trek. Both of the boys were very brave as we crossed the threshold of the place they have known since birth. There was one point where both of the boys got a little tight, simply stopped and raised their heads in typical prey animal fashion. Once they had settled we continued on and entered the large playground. Similar to our initial introduction of the arena; we allowed both the boys to explore the new environment until they were confident and in a learning frame of mind. We then went through our seven games and were able to incorporate the hills and logs to spice things up.
DAY 14: I put my western saddle on for the second time. Today there happened to be a ground pole in the round pen and it was great to watch Dashing figure out how to maintain gait & direction and look where he was going. Once this was working we went to the indoor arena and played on the 45’ line. It was a very crisp and windy day and Dashing was tight. On our way too and from the round pen we played in the puddles. This is a great and practical application of the squeeze game. Despite of his initial tension, we found a good place to quit and went back to the round pen where I mounted for the second time in the saddle. This time I felt confident to have him move off at the walk each direction and do a change of direction. He was easy to guide over the ground pole as well!
DAY 15: Lamarck and I joined Maria and Dashing for another outing across the road. This time, I put my western saddle on Dashing for Maria before we led them over to the playground. Once again Maria did a great job of acting as a calm but clear leader for him and was able to play all seven games with him using the logs and hills. I was so proud of both of them and how they navigated learning to communicate with one another and quickly developed both trust and try.
You should know that these babies are for sale. Below you can view a sales video for DASHING.