Monday, November 30, 2009

A Turning Point

Ive had a bit of a turning point with Milo recently. Ive been having a lot of difficulty keeping his attention on me while riding, and not just that he looks off occasionally, his ears are constantly everywhere else but me. So after consulting with my trainer via phone, she suggested doing some hard concentrated ground work for at least a week, or as long as needed. I started this new tactic on friday with some good results.

Actually, Milo threatened me a few times while longing, but I consider it good because it gave me an excellent opportunity to correct the behavior and keep his mind working and more importantly, focused on me. So at the end of that session I felt the score was Nina: 1 Milo: 0. We both came away from that workout sweaty and tired, but Milo was definitely more respectful and attentative.

Saturday morning after feeding and cleaning I was tired and needing to get to the job that pays the bills, so I just turned him out in the arena and gave a quick grooming. But Sunday morning I had more time. He is really mouthy and childlike and in the crossties he constantly turns his head and chews on the ties. It drives me nuts! Ive tried everything; when its in his mouth rub it back and forth until he drops it, smack him when he tries to grab it, or grab the other tie and pull his head away from it. All of which he associates with being a game. But Mom finally got smart yesterday and put soap on the ends he nibbles on. HAHAHA! One attempt to grab it made him seriously reconsider doing it again and getting that nasty taste in his mouth! Nina: 2 Milo:0.

So we did more groundwork Sunday morning and it went well again. Same rules: if you look away your feet move more, or you change direction, or you sidepass, etc. If you exhibit rude behavior to me, same consequences as before but at a higher level and for longer. So after about a half hour of that I called it good, and had a much quieter Milo leading behind me. Nina: 3 Milo:0.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh, that might be the problem!

The past two weeks or so Ive been incredibly frustrated when riding Milo. His focus has been on everything else but me, theres limited space in the arena cause there are constantly people riding and getting lessons, so I cannot utilize the arena, plus I havent been able to get Milo out of his stall enough lately so hes a big built-up bundle of energy. So nearly every ride has been frustrating, and not getting any sort of training done, so I get off before things get too worse; which isnt getting all of his built up energy out.

But it suddenly dawned on me today - Ive been allowing my horse to not keep his focus on me in all of our other daily happenings; leading, grooming, tacking up etc. Why havent I realized this before? Since July 07 Ive been letting him look at things, be goofy and disrespective, and basically not have to focus on me. I think its because he was a new horse, hes usually such a sweetie, and hey he was still kinda a baby, so I think I let him get away with things I dont let other horses get away with. As my trainer Cathy pointed out to me one day: I baby him, cause he is my baby. Im not firm enough with him and let him get away from things. Not purposefully, but I have been.

So, last night I started a new riding regime. Ive put all the reining training and conditioning on the back burner, and what Ive been doing is just using the time I ride as a time to keep his focus on me. If an ear shoots to something else (like it always does in the "scary side" of the arena, I make him focus on me again; changing directions, disengaging, one rein stop, etc. Once I can get a nice solid amount of time with him really listening to me (this may be only about 4 or 5 steps), I stop him and let him sit a while, rub him and tell him hes a good boy. Than we start again. And once he gives me a really good amount of time, say walking by the scary area but keeping ears on me, I get off and we are done. It seemed to work pretty good last night, and today.

I also incorporated more listening during basic ground activities. He had to be leading with me calmly and without staring at everything else around him, he needed to quietly stand in the cross ties, not staring at all the people and other horses in the barn, etc. So I hope this works. It seems this is a good hole in his training, and should hopefully make everything else fall into place. I only wish I noticed this two years ago!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today's Thoughts

So Im considering clipping Milo again for the winter. Im planning on doing a semi trace clip/pony clip, so pretty much the underside of his neck, chest, and shoulders. He is just getting too hard to keep conditioned with all that extra hair and heat making him sweaty! Any suggestions, comments, or tips on how to approach this task?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saddle Fitting

So Milo made a nice big obvious exclamation to me yesterday. Ive been riding him bareback a lot during the weekdays after work, and as I was saddling him last night for a ride he gave some obvious pinning of the ears and trying to walk away, which are behaviors he never exhibits while saddling. I had a sneaky suspicion that there was some issue with the fit of his saddle, but now Im looking a lot more seriously at getting a professional saddle fitter to come out and check everything out. Its so great how horses will let you know when something is amiss. I will just have the bite the bullet and pay the minimum $75 for the consultation, but his back is worth it. And I'm not highly suprised that his saddle could now not fit him, after all, I got it fit for him back when he was three and at five years old now, I know that he sure has grown and changed!