Monday, February 14, 2011

Yesterday I rode Scout again. He's still having trouble moving forward, but we did make progress. I even opened the gate from his back (no fancy moves, just a reach and shove) and took him outside the round pen for a few minutes. He was more interested in moving out there. When I asked him to go back in he really didn't want to, but as soon as we were in the center of the round pen I dismounted and called it a day.

The thing that seemed to work best to get him to move forward was to use a whip to tap behind my leg when he didn't move off with my initial cue. Eventually I dropped it (by accident) and we went back to a walk that had more stop than go in it. I don't want to ride him again like that until I've tried something else. I feel like I'm creating a problem. But I will carry a riding crop next time I ride, just in case I need it. He can't be getting away with this.

I looked around online for ideas on how to deal with horses like Scout, and there are two schools of thought. One, the most popular, is to use gradually increasing cues and a crop to convince them they have to move forward. I am willing to do that, but I like the second idea better. Find a way to motivate the horse to want to work with you, don't bore them to death, give them a job if you can. I wish we had cows to track. :)

As we've been doing round pen exercises, which must be exceedingly boring for him, Scout has been getting less and less happy about working with me. Today in the pasture he went wide around me rather than come to greet me. Granted, there was feed across the pasture behind me and he was in a hurry to get to that, but it's odd for him to not want to at least say hi. So I think, for him, the boring repetitious work needs to stop. I need to start mixing things up and giving him other stuff to think about. Working outside the round pen and taking him on walks to explore. This will be a good learning experience for me, and I'll have to become more creative at coming up with fun things for the horses to do.

Oh, and there are actually more than two ideas on how to get him to go. I'm going to try having him follow Tonka. I know that will work. Once he's comfortable with the feeling of moving with me on his back maybe he'll be able to move out on his own.

Strangely, my daughter is very eager to ride Tonka and help me out. Normally she doesn't like to ride. I'm excited to have her try it, maybe she'll get back into riding again. She's never ridden a horse as well trained as Tonka. We're going to start in the round pen, and I'll have her ride Tonka for a while first to make sure they get along. It'll be a ways off though, the weather just got wetter again.

Yesterday I did do something new with Scout, and it had his full attention and didn't bore him in the least. But he didn't like it. I put a bit in his mouth for the first time in quite a while. It's one I haven't used with him before, similar to this one:

He really, really didn't like it. I don't think it was this specific bit, I think he was just doing the normal colt thing, trying to get rid of it. After a while he carried it without fussing, but when I hooked up the reins and asked him to give he got very fussy again. So when he was thinking and trying I quit. He was happy to be rid of it. I think I'll work on that some more today. Should be easy enough, I don't even have to get him out of the pasture for it if I don't want to. If he doesn't seem to be getting the hang of it I'll try a different bit, in case the thickness isn't right for him.

I forgot to take a picture of Scout until he was half untacked.
My sister pointed out that this saddle sits low on his shoulder. I think part of that is that he's downhill right now. And it is probably too wide. As far as I can tell it isn't pinching him anywhere though, and I have him double padded. I'm going to try the other saddle on him again and see if it might be worth trying. I don't think it was a fit at all though. I can also try some other pad ideas.

But my gut feeling is that the saddle is fine, and it's his mind that's stuck.

This guy was very busy while we were riding. He did not get to come inside with me afterward.


Linda said...

It seems like with Cia those first steps were taken off of the circle. Seems like we did lots of jerrymandering until she understood the forward cue. But she did know enough to move away from the outside leg pressure when held in slightly with the opposite rein. When she'd take that first step, I'd open up the gate--so to speak--with my hands and let her take a couple forward steps while giving her a little pressure with both legs and clucking.

So interesting about your observation on Scout.

Kate said...

Try some focus exercises - riding point to point, either inside the round pen or outside - he'll pick up your intent perhaps. Also, if he's sticky, no reason not to use the whip to reinforce the leg cue so you don't have to up the leg cue, but you might try whacking your leg or chaps with it instead of touching him with it - this might startle him into paying attention to the primary cue. I expect he just isn't sure what you want yet and will figure it out - it's nice that he's pretty laid back.