Max has been with me for 2 weeks now and we are really putting a lot more pressure on him. His workouts have a lot of exercise in them and now there is also a great deal of expectation placed on him. I now have him wearing a bridle and bit. I am also expecting immediate response to the rein if I pull on one rein. I never want to pull hard on a horse's mouth. This will only result in a big fight which I am destined to lose. Instead, I ask with the rein, and if he does not respond to the rein, then I immediately require him to yield the hind quarters.
Today is Day 15, the two week mark and Max gets a day off. Simple turn out and he gets to laze around and eat. Back to work tomorrow.
Today, Max was subjected to a lot more pressure than usual. Since tomorrow he is getting a day off, I decided to give him a pretty tough workout, both physically and mentally. Physically, I warm him up and then canter and trot him for about 10 minutes. 10 minutes may not sound like much, but it is pretty strenous to keep up a good clip for that amount of time. Next we worked on having him work with a rider on the Lunge. The last time I saw him buck was on the lunge and I wanted to make sure that we worked on that area.
Today I have continued to work on Max's lateral flexion. He is definitely improving and I believe that in the next couple of days, we may be able to work him into a bit. In the meantime, I have started work on Hindquarter control. This will teach Max to be sensitive to the leg as well as be able to engage and disengage his Hindquarters.
Today, Max got to show off what he learned. Unfortunately, I do not have any videos but it was basically a test. He has been with me for 12 days, and he has learned voice commands, he has learned to take a rider bareback, he has spent time getting in shape, he has lost excess weight, and he will come to the fence to pick up a rider. He has been introduced to lateral flexion and is coming along in that area but is not entirely compliant yet. Thus, I do not believe that he is ready for the bit. Other than that, he is doing well. Tune in tomorrow for more videos and more work being done with this magnificent animal.
Today Max was given a standard workout with lateral flexion in the morning, this is a good workout and excellent training and Max is slowly improving in this area. However, I have a problem. Max's Lateral Flexion is really not good enough yet to be reliable for any serious riding. If I were to ride him and ask for a flex of the neck he might obey, or he might not. If he does NOT obey, he learns that disobedience is an option and it might become a habit. On the other hand, Max was brought to me because of a bucking problem. Thus it is incumbent upon me to spend a lot of time on his back so that he learns to tolerate people riding him. So the bottom line is that I need to ride him but not ask for a flex until he is good with flexing. The solution is of course to start teaching him to respond to the shift of the riders weight. And of course in this process, reins are really not needed so I dispensed with them.
Today's work is a bit boring. Since he did not do as well yesterday with the Lateral Flexing of his neck, Max got worked considerably today on this particular issue. I also started working on getting him sensitive to the riding aids. I started getting him working to the voice commands for his changes of gait. Now I am introducing the leg aids to him. I do this initially on the ground so that I can easily and safely teach him what the leg pressure expects of him.
Today I had planned on tacking up Max. However before I move onto any stage of training, I do a few tests to make sure that the previous stage has been complete. Before putting on tack, I wanted to make sure that Max was compliant without it. This is in keeping with the basic approach that until the horse is obediant to the reins WITHOUT a bit, I will not put one in his mouth. For me, the bit is a tool for fine communication. It is NOT to be used to force obedience. Unfortunately, if the horse is not compliant to the halter and lead rope, then the bit will become, an instrument that forces obedience by default.
Today I really wanted to work a lot more on Max's lateral flexion. He is not coming along as much as I would have liked. I will have to really devote more time to this skill. Without it, I really do not want to go to the canter, nor do I want to go to the bit.
Today Max took the opportunity to sow some wild oats and be very disobedient. When put on the rail and given voice commands, he was reluctant to obey and would pick up the Canter without waiting to be told. Today I also worked him on the short lunge and he was not very obedient there either. It took awhile to convince him to be compliant and eventually he became good and I was able to go ahead and get on him and make some mounted progress.
Today, Max continued his training with regard to voice commands. His compliance is poor at liberty but fairly good on the short lunge. In this series of videos, he is shown learning and practicing lateral flexion of the neck.
The first time I saw Max, the exercise rider got on him bareback and he immediately bucked her off. It was a fairly violent episode and the rider was injured. Thus, it is important to me that Max be trained to accept a rider bareback. We spent most of the first day introducing voice commands to Max. He is still learning them, and is not completely reliable. Although the videos of the past few days make him look like a star pupil, I would still not trust him in a larger arena or on the open trail. However, reliability to voice commands will come with time. And while we are working on that, it is important to start getting a rider on his back.
In the mounting process, I really want a mechanism whereby I can ask a horse to present himself for mounting. When the horse fully understands the implications of this command, then I can be reasonably assured that if he obeys, he probably has no objections to being mounted. To this end, I teach the horse to bring his hindquarters over to a fence so that I can be very comfortably above the horse before I attempt to mount. This also give the horse a safe way to become accustomed to a human above him.
This video shows the same lessons of trotting, cantering, and then stopping with Max moving to the Left. His stop is pretty good and shows a great deal of Impulsion. However, I am still concerned about his straightness. Although this may be something that I can overlook in a green horse, it is something that can become a habit if not addressed early.
This is Max's third day at School. He has learned to give the walk, the trot, the canter, and the stop from voice commands. However, he has not learned to skip gaits. In other words, we have only performed one transition up or down. From the walk, to the trot, or the trot to the canter. And downward transitions have only been from the canter to the trot, the trot to the walk, or the walk to the stop. We have not skipped gaits such as going directly from the walk to the canter, or the canter directly to the stop.
In this exercise, it is my intention to teach the horse to present himself for mounting. A rider should be able to walk him up to a fence, climb the fence, and then ask the horse to present himself for the rider to mount. Nothing is more irritating than the mounting block dance and if a horse does that, then, it is a clear indication that his education is deficient.
Today Max had to learn to trot with greater impulsion, as well as stop more reliably. He is learning his movements nicely according to voice commands but still has a long way to go. This video has him moving from the walk to the trot, and then the canter, and then back down to the halt. He is also an affectionate boy and when he stops, he has a tendency to turn in to the middle and come to the trainer. This will be another habit that must be stopped in spite of how cute it is. I am very pleased with his progress today although I would prefer that he be a bit more confident in his movements.