Here’s the deal: on the weekends I’m out of touch with technology because I have about a million irons in the fire right now that need to be wrapped up. So I’ll give you the down and dirty for the whole weekend at once!
I skipped the barn for a date night on Friday night. Man, those tacos were delicious!
Saturday morning, photog extraordinaire Jenn came out to help and shoot pictures and videos of our training. We had a full day of work followed by some new experiences.
Stand back! This is a very wild horse!
Jenn took a bunch of great photos (and I took some terrible ones) but they can all be seen here. There are also videos on her YouTube page here. Once again, don’t judge me too hard on some of these. It was a million degrees out and I have my shortcomings. Don’t worry, I won’t pull on him like that ever again after watching it. I deserved to be kicked at at some point in during our session.
I started out by immediately saddling Smokey up. I figure we’re going to have to do it someday, so we should start sooner rather than later since I’ve babied him up to this point about the whole mess. So on went the saddle pad followed by the saddle, neither of which he had seen since Thursday when he was being such a grump about both.
He didn’t even bat an eyelash to either, and only kid of side-eyed me when I put the girth on. I led him around on the lead a couple of circles before I sent him out on the line just because I think it’s important to get him focused on working before really delving into it still. He takes a minute to pay attention and if I can avoid any longeline stupidity, I’d prefer not to teach him that it’s ok.
I sent him out on the longeline and let him walk a few laps and then asked for a trot. He was super quiet and really comfortable going both directions for me. He was also mostly over his distaste for turning back to counter clockwise. He would still force me to get way past his shoulder and show him the training flag, but it wasn’t the battle we had had on Thursday. He was pretty free moving and willing, so I kept him going both directions for a while and got a good sweat working on him before I reeled him in.
We’ve had such an issue pushing for the canter that I’ve decided not to try to ask for the saddle AND canter at the same time yet. So I removed the saddle and pushed him back out again. I let him cool off some at a walk and catch his breath and then asked for a canter. Man… He really doesn’t like doing that. I think the heat (it was approximately 11 billion degrees out) and not fully being comfortable cantering really gets his hackles up.
I got him to do a couple rounds at a canter going clockwise, but he never really got it together going counter. He also caught on to the fact that I would make him change directions quickly and get the canter that way, so he started refusing to break to a walk or stop after a while. I, of course, wasn’t keeping it together really well in the heat either and got a little testy with him and yanked on his head a few times. Once again, I’m growing here too, so forgive me my trespasses against my horse. I’ll make them up to him, I promise.
We dawdled around with the canter for a while until I realized he was done. Too hot, too tired, too unfocused? All of the above. I decided to ask for a couple of trot circles and call it a day. Jenn took over to help him cool off and learn at the same time!
Yes, he tries to kick me, and for good reason. I’m sorry, Smokey. I won’t do that to you again.
There are a few things that I just fall somewhat short on and one of them is teaching flexation and foot placement, both of which Smokey is in dire need of. That horse stands on himself constantly. I rue the day he ever have to have shoes because they’ll get pulled probably twice a day. I’ll have to have an in-house farrier. Either way, I’m not real great at it and don’t know how to push him in the right way, but thankfully, Jenn does.
I had Jenn push him around for a while so he could cool off before we tried to bathe him and keep his mind engaged. She did an amazing job! After last time she pushed him around, he was much more pliant when I fumbled through it and this time he showed he had retained some of her previous lesson and was mildly more willing to give her some extra effort.
She pushed him all over the arena and backed him and moved him forward and it was ll pretty great. I took a million pictures trying to make sure I got at least one decent one and just generally interfered with my presence and lots of “Oh lookit you, you silly, fancy, adorable pony, you!” I’m really pleased that he’s willing to do some moves off of pressure already and I think it will make learning leg pressure cues a little easier down the road. Jenn was working on spinning him on his haunches with pressure that was moving from his shoulder back towards his girt area in hopes that maybe he’d spin like a reiner. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there one day! Any progress is good progress!
Click it and watch Jenn do fancy things with Smokey!
After Jenn tired herself of pushing around a 900lb sack of potatoes, we took him up for a bath. Jenn’s very expensive, very new camera headed back to the truck for safety purposes and because I needed both her hands to hold Smokey while we introduced him to the hose. He was pretty calm about the whole thing, all things considered. He didn’t spook as I unceremoniously unraveled the hose and was relatively curious of most things.
I found a spray type that seemed to be the gentlest and started there. I aimed at a front foot and slowly turned the water on. He lifted it VERY quickly, so I moved to the other – another rapid foot removal from the path of the water. You would have thought the hose was spraying lava the way he moved away from it. We took a while to figure out how the hose worked, mostly by mouthing the spray nozzle and watching me waste water into the gravel. He seemed kind of thirsty, so I sprayed the hose at the side of his muzzle. He actually took to it pretty quickly, letting me shoot it into his mouth and chew/drinking it. He also kind of sucked it out of the side of his mouth too.
We got a bucket and filled it up and let him drink it (he drank it all). Note to self: give the boy some water when it’s hot out and we’re working. He might actually work better for me then. All of this didn’t really get us far with getting water onto his body, so I refocused on that. I took the nozzle and rubbed it on his neck and then turned it on just slightly to get him wetter and wetter each time in one small area. He really didn’t like the water running down his legs and would lift them when it made it that far. Aside from that he was nervous about it but not stepping away, generally.
We got to the point that I could soak his neck on both sides, including his mane, and I pushed it a bit farther. I REALLY want to bathe him. I feel like rain rot would be helped and the dandruff I found in his mane might need to be taken care of (nothing serious, just annoying, fear not). So I put some beachy smelling shampoo on the rubber curry comb and did his right side and front leg. Then we hosed that off. I did his left side shoulder and neck but he started to get pretty fried from everything, so I hosed that and called it a day. Half a bath isn’t a bad start. Rain was in the forecast, so it was pointless anyhow.
We let him graze some while we chatted with Mary and Anna, then put him back out in his paddock. All in all, he made some great progress and it was a generally good day. I’m still learning where I can keep pushing and where to stop before we hit a wall in our sessions.
On Sunday, a couple of out of town friends came by to see Smokey. In a set of embarrassing moments, he basically decided he didn’t want to come in from the pasture and gave me all sorts of problems on the leadrope. First, he made angry faces at Misty who was out in the pasture with him. Mind you, Misty is a very large mare and Smokey is a pony sized retard. Not a fight he should try to pick. After passing Misty, he would stop probably every 5 feet and make me pull him back into motion. Generally he gives in to pressure on the halter after a while, but this just wasn’t working today.
I backed him, pulled on him, spun him around, pushed him and tried to tempt him with praise, but nothing was working. Thankfully, he finally decided that he would be ok with working today and came with me about the last third of the way without an incident. He was plenty pleasant in the arena. Amy fed him a carrot and he was friendly enough after that. I didn’t get to work him since it was about to storm and the thunder was getting closer and closer. I turned him back out and we headed out for the day right before it monsooned on and off all afternoon.
Today, I hope that I’ll get to do something with him, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s been raining all of yesterday and most of today, so he may have floated away by now. Either way, I’ll stop in to see him and maybe get to play today. If not, my next chance is Wednesday.