Thursday, January 17, 2013

Equestrian Discussions: Favorite Thing I've Taught My Horse

Discussion Question: "What's your favorite thing you've taught your horse to do?"

Hmmmm.....

This is a very difficult question to do.  Most of the things we've worked on haven't been neat tricks.  When I bought Orion, he needed a lot of work in the way of building ground manners, more than anything else. 

He also needed to build a bond with someone, namely me, and we have succeeded *idiotic grin and happy dance ensue* but I can't say that's something that I've actually taught him.  He had to choose to be a part of that himself.  

I love lunging him.  We do it for different reasons depending on what's going on - warm up, discipline, getting out antics before a ride, etc.  But that's something that Liz taught him when she had him, not me.  

It's actually really hard for me to answer this question, because in the time that I've had him, I feel like I've mainly built on things other people have taught him.  

One thing that I've worked with him on that's made me really happy is walking and stopping when I do, with me.  I don't know if anyone worked with him on that one before, but I do know that he sucked at it, so I feel safe in saying that I taught it to him. (Though ironically, he sucked at it again on Friday when I was out there, and it made me realize we need to do a refresher course, for both he AND I. I let him push me around too much, and that needs to change.)

I spent most of one day just walking around the paddock with him on a lead, randomly stopping without warning, and put up with him running headfirst into my back until he figured out that he needed to stop when I did.  He made the choice, without a prompt from me, to walk beside me with his head even with my shoulder.  It was something I was going to ask for to build onto his epiphany of "stop when she stops", but he did it before I even asked.  Along with him running me over when I stopped, I had been getting tired of him dragging his feet and plodding along two feet or more behind me when I led him anywhere.  He would hang back, and when I stopped, he'd keep walking and either run into me or walk past me.  That day we cured, albeit temporarily, both.

And for the record, I say temporarily because I noticed to the other day that he was running me over again.  Up until recently he's been good, but I think maybe lately we've done a little too much playing and not enough working.  I wonder if he's lost a little bit of the respect he'd had for me because I've seemed more like his playmate than his partner and leader.

Oh well.  Something to work on again, but it's something that I have a little bit of an idea how to do since I did it before.  Plus, I'm always open to learning new ways of doing things and seeing what works and what doesn't for both of us.  I loved what Liz said on the last discussion post, about her horses respecting her space.  It really is one of the top things they should know, and it made me realize that that should be one of my top priorities with Orion.  He's a good boy, but he has such a stubborn, headstrong streak, that it's something he really needs to remember above all things, or I or someone else might end up really getting hurt one day.  Whether he meant to or not, he's a big horse and we're little.  Not a good combo with a horse that doesn't respect space.  

One more thing to add to the New Year's Resolution list.  I told you guys I'd add more!

For Thursday, January 24th: "What training technique(s) do you believe in? What led you to it/them? What methods work best for your horse, and why?"