Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Discouraged, but have a plan

Blogging is a lot more fun when you have something to brag about.  My wee mule is not working out quite as smoothly as I had hoped.  I go to mount up, and he won't stand still.  Unfortunately with my synthetic Steve Edwards saddle, getting my foot in the off stirrup is a pain in the ass.  So Jasper decides to do a mini-bolt, and I try to stop him, which gets him more worked up, which is just a vicious circle.  Last couple rides lasted 30 seconds or less, luckily with a planned dismount.  :)

So I took him back to kindergarten and asked him to stand still at the mounting block.  It took a LOT of times repositioning him, but he got to where he could stand still.  The last couple days I've been ground driving him around the round pen, asking for a lot of stops.  He got to where he'd "whoa" with just my voice, before the rein cue.  Nice.  Then we added some changes of direction and I found another difficulty.  He doesn't like to switch eyes and find me on his off side.  That got smoother and eventually we did a bit of walk, trot, walk, whoa.

During all this, I decided to go back to the hackamore and see if that would help, but actually he was more willing to lean on that than he was the bit.  Either way he was emotional and reactive, so we went back to the bit.

Today when I was disconnecting his driving line on his off side, while standing on his near side, he spooked when I reached over his back.  More change of eye trouble, I suppose.

So I have a plan.  I'm going to take him off the pasture.  He's getting fat.  We all know fat horses are sassy.  I'm going to continue working on standing still, and "whoa" with the bit, a fair amount of desensitizing (especially things above, behind, and switching sides) and I'm just going to have to cowgirl up and get through this.  I'm also thinking about having someone at his head when I do decide to mount up.  That's cheating, I know, but it might make us both feel better.  I have also considered taking him to a (somewhat) local mule trainer and getting some pointers. That will have to wait until I get my daughter's root canal and my year's supply of hay paid for.  In the mean time, if I want to ride a good, predictable critter on the trail, I can ride my colt (who is looking like a better ride all the time). 

Lack of time, and the fact that I've been sick most of my days off this spring, are not helping.  Some days, especially Fridays, I get home from work and I'm so tired I just want to lay down and die.  But I'll have to quit whining and just do it.  I really do like Jasper a lot.  He's a real sweetie when we're not "working."  We just have to get to where working is fun, not a big ordeal.  We have a few years yet before either of us is too old to try anymore.  :)


Kate said...

You'll get there in time. He sounds like a fine equine who just doesn't know enough yet to feel comfortable.

Judi said...

Your plan is a good one, and you may want to add clicker training to it. My sister had a similar problem when she got her new horse, and by using a clicker, she fixed it in just a couple sessions. He has been neraly perfect for standing for anything ever since.

Keechy said...

Hey another clicker fan! :) My sis has a HUGE Irish Draft cross 2yo and she can do anything with him because he is trained to stand nicely via clicker training. Her not-very-horsey hubby can also handle him daily, do blankets, lead in from paddock for dinner, the works. He walks along being led with his nose near the ground looking to earn his treat, he stands for the farrier beautifully, self loads on the float (trailer), and on and on. He was half feral when he arrived less than a year ago and it's all been achieved quietly and calmly with clicker training. Who needs to argue with an over-16hh 2yo black tank? Clicker is the bomb!