Ready for action!
Last night, I brought the new flat nylon halter I bought this weekend with me to the barn. I decided that using that for letting Smokey graze was probably the best plan as the rope halter has a knot that hangs down below his chin. With how close he steps to his chin while he’s grazing, that made me pretty nervous. The couple of times he’s stepped on his lead rope (most were when I was unsuccessfully trying to remove the halter I messed up) he panicked a little, so I definitely don’t want him to step that close to his face and lose it and hurt himself or me.
New flat halter is looking good!
I groomed him before we headed down to the arena. I’m still hesitant to ask him through the 4’ gate on the round pen just since he’s still skeptical of a few gates and that one poses the highest risk of him bolting and hurting himself or me. Safety first. We’ll get there, and I know he understands he can get out that way, but I’d like to take it slow.
We went down to the arena and messed around for a while. I even closed the gate after we walked in with him at my side. I led him around from both sides. He is much more receptive to someone leading him from his left side (he would be on my right) than on his right side (with him on my left). Dad was there and took him to lead around to see how he did with someone less experienced and someone besides me. Smokey seemed fine with this and walked along nicely. He pulled a bit when Dad was on his right side, but did walk for him.
The last picture shows Smokey’s pen (top left) and the grassy paddock I typically let him graze in (top right)
I tried, successfully this time, to get him to trot while I was leading him. He got a little rambunctious though, and I used it as a learning experience. I think once he is encouraged to run, he’ll have a lot of pent up frolicking to do. I’m not looking forward to a mustang kite on the end of my lungeline. I guess I better wear gloves!
A large dog ran up to the fence barking and spooked Smokey, but he recovered pretty quickly and didn’t lash out or anything. There were also some kids playing Frisbee that were pretty concerning, but he seemed to calm down very quickly once they left.
I made him stand by the gate and shook it so that it rattled and he shied at first, but once again, stuck his nose out and sniffed it, then walked right up to it and put his head over. Someone knows how to get in and out of places through gates now. I think the initial backing into the panel out of his pen “gate” scared him a little and it’s taken until now to really get over that. I opened the gate with him standing next to me and led him out with no snorting or shyness.
We walked up the walkway to the entrance to the grassy area and walked right down to it. He led very nicely. I let him graze for a while and walk around investigating the various bushes and such. He seemed quite content. There is a patch of grass that he absolutely will not graze on, though. We walked down there, he snorted through all the grass and then spooked and spun around nearly on top of me. He didn’t bolt out of the area (it happens to be a corner), but he certainly did spin. Maybe that’s a good sign, since I want to train him to be a reiner 😉 Thankfully, he didn’t land on me, so I walked him out of the corner. I made him walk on some gravel which he seems to dislike (shocking, I know); I think it’s more the sound than the feeling of it.
I led him back into his pen, which he was reluctant to do, but did with only slight encouragement from Dad behind him.
Today, we start the scary part: learning to lunge. The forward motion and moving away from me are going to be hard for him, I can already tell. When he’s nervous he wants to climb all over me and now I have to break that habit and give him some of his own personal confidence. I think I may have inadvertently made him a little needier than I want by letting him be so close all the time.
For those of you who don’t know what lunging or longeing is, try this link for a basic oveview. In essence, I’ll be putting a super long lead rope on Smokey’s halter and making him move in a large circle around me. This helps trainers get their horses moving, get excess energy out before riding and train all sorts of maneuvering befroe you even get into a saddle.
My training flag came in last night along with my new headstall. I was like a kid in a candy store putting it together with my new bit, curb chain and reins. Tack is so magical, and smells great (when it’d new) too! I think the training flag will be a great asset to have on hand. It certainly will make things a lot safer for me trying to get him to move off from me. I sense that there might be some lashing out the first few times before he learns what I’m asking of him. We’ll see tonight!
The bag of carrots that got dropped off for Smokey at work. Lucky boy! Thanks, Drew!