Monday, September 28, 2015

Starting a Green Horse On the Trail

The posts I'm sharing about Cya are going to serve as journal for me, a place to sort things out and reflect back on our progress as we work toward a goal of better communication and cooperation.  Trust.  Respect. Partnership.

I'm not a professional trainer.  In fact, I've hired one to help me train my green horse.  I'll make mistakes--lots of them.  She'll get over it.  Horses are resilient.

Week One:  The Homework

My homework for the week was to help Cya tune in and choose to listen.  My trainer requested that I take her places where she'd be distracted.  But the first day, I worked with her at home.

I filmed this next clip to give you an idea of what I'm doing with the bubble.  Unfortunately, she wouldn't let me come around on her right side and my hand wasn't free to block her from turning in.  I had to stop filming and work on approach and retreat from the right side.  I had no idea I'd let that side become so weak and the other so dominant.

After the arena work, we practiced trailering.

On the third day, I took her to Riverside State Park to do some work in the round pen and then, if everything went well, to pony her on a trail ride. It also gave her practice in the trailer again.

 Walking to her weak side, the right. Much better than day one.

 Asking her to back up.
Doing the lunging to the shoulder.  My foot shouldn't be moving forward like that, but it's a habit.  My trainer requested that I stand in my space and pivot around.

She squared up nicely here.  Back feet aren't perfect, but I was supposed to concentrate on front feet.

There were a lot of people at the park setting up for a trail training program, but Cya did great, and I was able to take her for a trail ride.  It was a lot of fun.  I was proud of her.

On Saturday, I decided to take her through the trail training course that IEBCH (Inland Empire Back Country Horsemen) was sponsoring.  I had talked to them when I was there the day before and they told me it was a self-paced program designed to simulate real things you might find on a trail ride--four wheeler, tents, chain saw, tarps, water crossing, bridges, logs, and other things.  I knew from the beginning my issue would probably be more Cowboy than Cya, but Cowboy did pretty well as the lead horse.  Although, he was not happy about it.  The whole Cya tagging around on all our trail rides was getting to him, and he didn't appreciate that I'd taken him to another wild and crazy clinic. (It wasn't wild and crazy--Cowboy just thought so.)  It was actually a very calm, well-organized event.  Truly a fantastic experience for trail horses.

We went through half the obstacles and then took off for another ride to let Cya (and Cowboy) decompress.  After the ride, we came back in to finish up.

Crossing the tarp proved to be an issue.  Cowboy crossed over, but Cya balked.  Then she put her foot on it and started backing up with the tarp stuck to her hoof.  Of course, it followed her.  She pulled back and I held onto her pretty tight with the rope sliding through and slightly burning my hand.  In the end, she gave up with just about six inches of rope left in my hand.  (I have a small blister to show for it).  I had gloves on before the ride, but somehow I decided to take them off and leave them at the trailer.  I was cursing myself all day for that.

I got off Cowboy to work her over the tarp and kind of threw my lessons out the window (mistake).  Instead of working from that 4 foot bubble and getting her to move forward over it, I did more of a walk and  pull thing.  Not very effective, I might add.

All and all, a good, solid week, and tomorrow I head back to the trainer for a brush up.  I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. You've already done so much with her. I'm impressed! This is going to be fun to follow. And I love how she resembles Pistol. :)

    1. It was a busy and fun-filled week, that's for sure. It will be more difficult once the winter hits. I'm trying to take advantage of fall. Pistol and her do seem a lot alike--in temperament, too.

  2. I've made that mistake (forgetting gloves) ponying once.
    No bueno.
    You & Cya are off to a great start!

    1. Note to self: remember the gloves when ponying your horse over a tarp!

  3. You made a lot of progress this week. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you. She is a smart horse, but some of this is review for her, too. Horses have good memories.

  4. Walking them over a tarp is always a bit risky.
    She sure is a stout filly!

    1. Shirley, she is a big girl. The tarp was ripped up and I think she got her foot in the hole. I'm lucky it came out, and I'm lucky Cowboy stood his ground while I was holding her.


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