Monday, March 23, 2015

Back to bootcamp

Saturday morning after the last snowstorm
This week marks the start of our return to bootcamp. With the ever-growing amount of daylight hours, it is finally bright enough and warm enough in the mornings that I can drive out to see Charlie before starting work (and the snow is almost gone!). We both need to get back in shape in order to enjoy the really nice warm weather once it rolls around. I have big plans of doing lots of trails, jumps, and fun rides this summer, and today was a great start toward getting us both back in that routine. 

I can work with this!
Although I had planned to start working Charlie today in side reins and not actually do any riding, he was so darn cute and calm when I went out to get him that I said screw it. If he's got a brain today, we're doing something fun! So I hopped on bareback with his rope halter. We did nothing but walk on a loose rein - well, no rein actually - as I felt trotting would have hurt his back (and my butt!), but it allowed us to refresh our neck reining skills and practice seat and leg aides.

Perfect start to the day
After about ten minutes I got off and the rest of the lesson was on the ground: walk on, whoa, back, all of it done while walking in a figure eight pattern to loosen and strengthen the muscles in Charlie's back and neck. Throughout it all I kept minimal, if any, contact with the lead rope, mainly leaving it looped over his neck. Charlie was content to follow wherever I went, stopping when I stopped and only moving forward on a kiss, which is exactly what I wanted. In tune! When I asked him to whoa and stand, he did (yay for remembering last week's lesson!).

Along with the walking, I did a lot of this ground tying reinforcement today and was able to get much farther away from Charlie than I had during our last session, and for extended periods of time. We will keep working on this a little bit each day, because I want any horse I'm working with to know that if I request him to "stand", particularly if the lead rope is dropped straight down, he must stay wherever he is until I release him. 

Sometimes being good calls for some comic relief
I have found that it is beneficial to leave the rope hanging during this training as long as your horse is past the point of flinging himself away from pressure (see our previous lessons here) and he's already mastered standing still with you holding the rope. The main reason I like it is that if your horse does try to move with the leadrope dangling, he'll inevitably step on it and end up stopping himself. This reinforces that in order to avoid that pressure, he should not move his feet.
I'm looking forward to doing some more of this and hopefully integrating some longeing tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Finally some Charlie-time. Looks like a nice way to start off.