Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Training for what we CAN do

So it’s Wednesday, and even though I just posted the week update last night, I’m not sure I’ll have a chance to post again until next week so I figured I’d journal on today.

It was still too wet to do much at the trot in the pasture without being very careful to pick our spots. So I got creative! We lunged at the walk for a few circles and then I started driving him along the long side of the pasture down the fence. It tends to be dryer there and I thought if he could get the hang of it we could trot it. He questioned the shape of our lunge circles at first but got the hang of it. Then we changed the location a bit and I drove him up the slope on a similar elongated circle. Which was good for getting some of his hill walking done. So I was able to pretty much chose the driest, flattest, straightest paths, it wasn’t a crisp and clean process, but it was a success in safe and controlled trotting! This was a really good lesson on transitions since I was asking him to pick up the trot for only 5-10 strides then come back down to a walk. Plus it made him pay a lot more attention to me, so he was keeping to a slower pace than usual too.

After he got some trot exercise in for the day, we tackled the ground poles. I’ve got them set up in different spots in the pasture going different directions, and there are a variety of shapes and sizes so he doesn’t get bored of them very easily. Then we went back up to the upper pasture and got to work on the trail course set up there. There is a schooling show in a week and a half that is very close. I’ve been wanting to take him to a show just to have the crazy show grounds experience and this one has a in-hand trail class. Since most of the shows limit the in-hand classes to under 3, this may be one of our last chances to try it. (That and I’m sure I won’t care much about an in-hand trail class when I can RIDE a trail class instead!) So taking out the days where I won’t be able to get out to see him, I’ve got days of training to prepare.

Although he knows how to pivot and back and side pass from the ground I am guilty of not cueing very subtly. This week we will definitely be working on him responding to just my body instead of taps, pokes, and rope swings. The other goal is getting him to stand square. This problem is totally my fault. I am pretty sure the breeder made him square up whenever she stopped him because he seemed to know it when I got him. Of course as we started working on bigger and better things I got sloppy about enforcing this. Then with the injury and all the hand walking we re-evaluated his manners while leading in general, but I wasn’t about make him stand on all four feet when one hurt. So now that he’s standing on all feet again it is time to start asking for square halts again, but it is SO tedious. Ugh.

It is fun to have a goal though, it keeps me more accountable try to improve everything he does and not just maintain the level of “he sort of does it”! At the very minimum it will give me an arena to lunge in, and a whole new experience for him. Who knows, maybe we’ll even place, it’s not a very big show! ;)

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