Thursday, April 26, 2018

What a Difference a Week Makes

After I realized Leah's refusal to go forward was a behavioral, rather than a pain, decision, I decided to address it calmly, but firmly on Monday morning.

My response was simple: when Leah would try to stop with her head held high, I'd anticipate it, catch it before it happened, turn her into a circle, and ask her to yield her hindquarters, then return to the line we were walking. I had to do it about ten times, but soon I was able to move on to picking an imaginary line where I wanted her head to be carried, and if she raised it above that line, I'd circle her again.  We also practiced stopping, with her head in a lower position--and backing.  She responded to that intervention very fast, and we soon had our partnership back.

Yay.

That night, I went back out to see if she'd partner with me even when the mare herd was grazing outside of the arena.

She did.

The true test, of course, was the trail, and we did that yesterday.


Leah did great!  I give her a 90%!  (Less than 100% because she did have a couple of refusals on trails she knew were steep and difficult.  She was like, I'd rather not.)

The trail to this view was one of those trails, but boy was it pretty on top.  We stopped and let them graze as a reward.  In fact, my friend's horse is very green and had a bad experience at the park last week, so we really wanted it to be positive for him.  I thought it would really help him to pause a lot on the trail and let them graze until  he would relax--then expose him again--then pause, rest and relax, etc.  It worked very, very well. He had a positive experience, and so did Leah.


My friend took some pictures of us.



Today, we're going to explore a new stretch of trail at Riverside State Park, Inland Empire to Deep Creek.



When I left for the ride yesterday, I let Little Joe and Cowboy out into the big pasture for the first time.  The mares weren't very happy.





10 comments:

  1. Looks like you've figured out how to "help" Leah remember her manners about refusals. Good for you, it will sure make things go easier for both of you.

    Great pictures! What a beautiful trail to ride. I wish we had something like that around here.

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    1. I’m very lucky to have trails like we do here. I went on another ride with her yesterday and she crossed a wide, rapid creek. So, there are many training opportunities, too. She really seems to be back on track.

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  2. Such a pretty trail. I'm glad your technique worked with Leah.

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    1. Yes, me too. I spent a few days really worrying about it and whether we’d get past it. Now, looking back, it seems silly.

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  3. That trail is stunning! I'm glad that you were able to work through things with Leah.

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  4. Looks like the fixes with Leah are getting easier all the time. Good work!
    Beautiful trails, bet the new one will be just as gorgeous.
    Those mares.....

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    1. You’re right about the fixes getting easier. The question of pain versus behavioral is such a strange delimma though. I looked at the circumstances and thought it was behavioral, but it took me a while to figure out. Somehow, I need to get better at that—if that’s even possible. My trainer said she addresses pain first, then behavioral.

      In any case, it didn’t set us back at all, so all is well.

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  5. We haven't got a single blade of green grass! But the snow is gone, so I'll try not to complain. Took a long ride all around the quarter today, found a few squishy spots, a couple of puddles, but mostly dry ground. Seeing some pussy willows in bud were a highlight - the best part though, was when we're almost back to the barnyard, just casually pushing buttons & enjoying Padres' little spin, some sidepassing one way & then the other, a bit of fancy foot work from the old boy, so love that horse. Big smile on my face the whole ride.
    Love your pics - you always look so pretty.

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    1. Padre sounds like a joy to ride! Golden!

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