This past weekend, Smokey made a great deal of improvements and had some less than stellar performances.
To start with, Smokey has been longeing in the arena without the round pen for a while now. After trying it with another horse in the arena with him and having him bolt towards it every time he faced it, I thought we needed to take a step back and make sure we were being controlled on the longeline a little better.
He’s also pretty anti-western saddle, but didn’t seem to mind the English one too much. I may have to take a step back on that as well and see if we can get the explosiveness that comes with putting the saddle on him back in check.
I’ve found that he usually has one really try, bad day before he really grasps that whatever I’m asking him either isn’t as bad as he pretends or regardless of how bad it is, I’m still going to make him do it. After our epic arena leaving battle a week or so ago, he leads in and out of the arena with minimal fuss.
So last weekend, we longed in the open arena quite a bit. It actually makes me more comfortable that I can move around more and am not as cramped for space with him and his rather powerful hind end. He really hasn’t offered to kick much and when he does, he works up to it so much that you can see it coming from about 5 miles away. And yes, after he does it, he still stops and looks bewildered for a few seconds before moving on again. I try not to get him to this point, but sometime that point is reached simply by letting him trot it out on his own. Who knows, he’s a strange pony.
On the longeline a few things happened. One, we have almost no attention coming from Smokey to me all of a sudden. He’s gotten pretty herd bound and when his mare is out with him, It’s nearly impossible to keep his attention in the ring. Shaking the flag at him just irritates him, so it’s a fine line between keeping that ear on me and keeping those back feet on the ground.
He’s also been doing a lot of spinning out of the longeline and trying to stop at various “corners” in his circles. I think this is an evasive maneuver to try to get me to let him back out because generally when I ask him to move on, I get a rather large bolt to the other end of the line and then a nice trot again. I think this is something we’ll just have to work on. I’m getting more and more aggressive about trying to keep him moving in this respect, so we’ll see how it goes.
The saddle causes him tons of agony, apparently. He literally acts like it weighs thousands of pounds and his back is broken when I put it on. Legs are too hard to pick up and he really just can’t right now, mom. Right. So we’re slowly working up to that. I haven’t gotten on him in a while since the round pen is down and I don’t want to find out he actually knows how to buck or bolt while I’m on him yet – Especially when we’re still going bareback.
I’ve been trying to reward him with carrots more frequently since he seems so food motivated. I bought the carrot “chips” that seem to work well since I don’t have to feed him and entire carrot at a time, then. He doesn’t quite grasp that he needs to bite off pieces for him to get some on big carrots, so I’ll have to help him out. Speaking of, maybe it’s a teeth thing. I still need to get the vet out to see him and do his teeth. I’m sure that’ll be an experience.
It’s been raining or I’ve been busy all week, so I haven’t been to see him yet this week. I expect I’ll go tonight and work him and measure his feet. I’m going to buy him some boots so he doesn’t walk barefoot on the gravel anymore. I think it’s taking a toll on his feet, so if I can keep from putting shoes on him by buying him some boots, I’m more than happy to do that. I’m eyeing the Cavallo Simple Boots. Sport boots sound like they’re for narrower hooves and though his are small, they’re not particularly narrow.