Thursday, May 4, 2023

Still Working Toward That Happy Partnership

I had another long day at the equestrian park yesterday. It got really hot, upper 80's, but we took breaks in the shade. 

The day went better than Monday, but a little worse than Tuesday. (I Might be Crazy post).  Tweed showed resistance on the bridge, wanting to jump off of it, whereas, I was asking him to walk off  nicely. My solution was to work him in circles when he jumped off, and then let him rest on the bridge. It worked by bringing his emotions down and teaching him that the bridge was a good place to be, and not hot lava he needed to flee from by jumping.

I followed through with my plan to ride him out and then rest him on the trails. I tied him to a tree, and he didn't seem very concerned.

I rode him for 3/4's of our time out in the woods, and walked him about 1/4th to practice really steep, loose rock hills. He went down medium hills, loose rocks, with me riding him, very well yesterday, and didn't get nervous when he started to slide down a bit. He just went with it. But there was another, very long, steep hill that I thought it was better to practice on without a rider first. (I got some very good exercise walking up and down it. I'll refer to it as Heart Attack Hill.) Heart Attack Hill will be a very good hill to work Tweed up and down when he wants to run back to the trailer. 

During the walking portion of our adventure we ran into a deer, and I let him stalk it through the brush just so he knows he is the boss when it comes to deer. When I remounted, we came across some rental horses in a pen. They didn't do anything, but Tweed went on high alert, so I dismounted and worked him around them. He never fully relaxed, so we will going back there the next time down.

Back at the arena I made a new friend. She was there all day with her two horses for the first time, and she moved her trailer over by mine. She was really sweet. 

We have a lot of work to do with our trot and lope. Still getting used to each other.

I still subscribe to Ryan Rose Horsemanship, and received a new training video yesterday when I got home.  It was on circles with horses, (very timely).  He wasn't a big fan of the circles, and suggested better patterns, but as for the circle, he suggested we not steer them on it, and instead let them take responsibility. We should only be picking up the reins to steer them back onto it, but then release again. 

He actually prefers squares or octagons, because he wants them to move out straight and then see how well they respond to sharper turns on the square, or slight turns on the octagon. Same principle. Let the horse move out straight and only pick up the reins if they leave the line or don't turn with your leg and body pressure.

Our homework is to practice those concepts and make a video. The upper level homework is to do it all with no reins.

Why was this timely? Because I was on Tumbleweed's face too much, steering him in the circle, and he eventually started rooting at the bit. 

I have no doubt that he is bored with arena work, obstacles, trails--everything. He has made his preference clear, and it is to be with his mare herd out in pasture. I remind myself that we are only one week into it, at least the regular training and longer days. Even my trainer, Sarah, always has a rough first two weeks with horses coming back to work. It makes sense. 

We leave them alone all winter to fend for themselves as we wave to them from the warmth of our homes.

Spring comes and we're all, hey best buddy, let's go play out where all the wild animals live!

I have high hopes for spending more time with the horses next winter, thanks to the barn remodel. I'll have a room to warm up in while I groom the horses. I can even work with Tweed in the breezeway now that we won't be storing hay in it. That's 60' x 12'. 

Or, there's always this....head south with my hubby and Tumbleweed someday.

Back to Tweed.  My goal is to have him working all the trails from the equestrian area with relaxation, courage, and partnership. There are many hills to practice our ups and downs--and they vary in steepness and footing. There is water, wildlife, bikes, dogs, joggers, a little bit of everything. It's the perfect testing ground for us.

I feel good about where we're at right now.


  1. You should feel really good about where he is. I admire how you’re working with him. I think I’m being too careful.

    1. I don’t think there’s any such thing as being too careful. I even reserve the right to never ride my horses, if I don’t feel safe up on them. Our instincts are often right, and why rush? The whole process is equally fulfilling each step of the way.

  2. How can Tweed possibly be bored when you have so much variety at your great equestrian park. Silly boy! Nice to connect with a new friend at the park. All our horse friends are about 45 minutes (or more) away. I rarely see them.

    Hmmm, I've never thought about riding an octagon. I struggle with making square corners correctly. However, Koda helps me out so I can fudge it with the best of them lol.

    Love how you are work through challenges with Tumbleweed!

    1. Ha! Yes, there is a lot to see and do for him. I’m seeing more and more pride in himself at some of his accomplishments, too. The car wash is one of his favorites now, and he stands in the middle of it like he’s super tough. It’s fun to see him shine. I think at some point all that shining will lead to a bunch of confidence.

      The women I meet at the park are all so very nice. I run into them over and over and we look out for each other. Kind of a little community. I also run into some of my close friends down there. I see at least one, sometimes many more, on any given day.

  3. So many good trainers out there in internet land! Glad you found one you resonate with.
    I know of several trainers who have a neat trick for getting them to stay on a circle without a lot of guiding: as soon as they drift or drop their shoulder, cut directly across the circle (like riding a D to the other side) and then give them their head again.
    Getting to their mind when they are young is a lot of work but it's the foundation for a safe and lasting partnership. Tweed is growing up!

    1. Now that I think about it, he also said to change direction on the circle. I’ll have to watch the video again. He is one of many trainers I follow. I like to get as many perspectives as possible and see which fit for me and Tweed.

      Yes, getting to their mind is a challenge, especially with one who so enjoys his herd life. He is very good about letting me catch him, loading up, saddling—all of it. That suggests a sort of interest in what we’re doing. I’d say he’s willing and curious right now, but still not totally bought in to why we need to do this.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.