Sunday, July 17, 2011
About half way through training Bright, a three year old mare belonging to a man in Marrowbone. She is an intelligent, and dominant creature who will try to dominate a human if she can. Like many strong willed horses, she is very alert and spooks at more things than most less dominant animals. The training has gone well. We started her in a round pen. We isolated her in the beginning. I got her moving then taught her that she did not have to fear the halter or being led. We kept it short. Being led got her to grazing, friends, treats and water. Because she was isolated, my coming was anticipated and whatever I did was seen as beneficial. When we moved her to a semi-isolated pasture by the barn, the pattern continued. She comes in for training at a run. We do give her treats, but we also give lots of praise, neck rubs, and scratching.
We started with driving. She has not had experience with the whip. To start her I pushed on her rump. From the very beginning I tried to cue her with the lines and release as soon as she started the move. She now has this pretty well mastered. I always accompany the cuing with the lines with voice commands. I notice she will do many of the moves on voice alone. We use “gee”, “haw”, “up”, “whoa”. and “back”. I use “haw about” for a complete “U” turn to the left, and she now understands that the “about” command means a full 180o turn. We added being saddled and having weight put on the saddle these past few days. Jake got on her the day before yesterday, and she simply inspected him. No resistance at all. Yesterday she gave us a big unload while he was sitting there.
All along we have worked on grooming, spraying her with fly wipe and handling her feet. Now, after a week, she is comfortable with all of them. She stood for being sprayed with fly wipe yesterday completely unconcerned with the process. She gives me the front feet, but I still have to pick up the hinds. I brush her feet with the grooming brush and rap on them with the back of the brush.
The past two days we have begun the process of teaching her that other people can drive her too. She is not nearly as well behaved for other drivers. I have had the problem of creating one man animals in the past. I have had Joe, Jake and Maria drive her. I tell them not to correct, just praise. I want her to think that all people are safe and beneficial.
What I think is most promising is that she has gone through half her training with only one scolding. The second time I tightened the cinch on the Western saddle, she kicked at me. I got in her face for that. Other than that, things have been calm. I do not punish for not knowing or for acting like a horse. We just do things over until she gets them right. We had a bit of a balking problem in the beginning. Everything was scary. Maria thinks she was using it for attention. We just kept working on it. The last couple of days we haven’t seen this at all.
I don’t think I’d call her green broke yet, but I know I have been around horses a lot rawer than Bright is that were released as green broke. I do not think that our low key, non-confrontational approach has added a minute to the length of training time. One thing is for sure, she likes human contact. We would not have had that with a rougher style of training. That in itself will make all future training easier.
Posted by Gerry Barker at 4:17 AM