March 7, 2010

Shae: 1, Surcingle: 0

I know what you're probably thinking: she introduced the surcingle and he leaped five feet sideways and freaked out.  No, that's not what happened at all.  I did introduce the surcingle today for the first time, and he could have cared less.  I had already bitted him up at this point and he was interested, but only so far as thinking "What game are we playing today?"  He played with it a bit at first, but then stood quietly.  Here I introduced the idea of lateral flexion by clipping a lead shank to one of the bit rings and asking him to give from the approximate position of a rider's hand while mounted.  He was predictably resistant at first, but after just a few repetitions on each side he really understood what I was asking, so I quit with two good ones.

In many classes at the Woods, our course fee comes back to us in the form of a "gift" for our future professional lives.  In T&H II we got to decide what we wanted, and after Sara found some very nice quality leather surcingles for 50% off, we chose that.  So I took advantage of the relatively quiet barn environment to introduce it to Shae today.  First I let him check it out, sniff it, and make sure it wasn't food.  (In case you were curious, it's not.)  Then I set it in place on his back without cinching it, and he could have cared less.  He was interested, but not scared.  Next, I cinched it loosely, but still tightly enough that he would know it was there all the way around his belly.  I expected some sort of reaction here, but he just stood there, looked back at it and then looked at me like "Okay, now what?"

I let him chill out with it for a few minutes, and then put his halter over his bridle (making sure there weren't any weird pressure areas, especially around the bit) and led him outside.  I wanted him to get used to the idea of moving with the bridle and surcingle on without the pressure of wondering what the bit was supposed to do.  He was generally okay, but got angry when he slung his head around and realized I wasn't having any of it.  We walked until he was quietly walking next to me and ignoring the surcingle and bit.

I put him in a stall two stalls down from his still wearing the bridle and surcingle, just to give him some more time with them, and proceeded to clean my stall.  Before I did so, I checked the walls and made sure he couldn't get anything caught on the surcingle.  When I went back to check on him 10 minutes later, the surcingle was laying on the ground and he was looking up at me with that typical mischevious pony face.  I hadn't heard any struggle, but there was the surcingle laying on the ground.  I put it back on his back and went to tighten it again (which he did not mind, thankfully) and I discovered he'd broken the buckle, which is not one solid piece as I thought but actually made in three pieces.  So the surcingle will be going back tomorrow.  Shae: 1, surcingle: 0.

I ended with a very relaxed grooming session with him tied to the wall in his stall.  I have to say, it was the first time I've seen him really relax.  He's always so interested in everything, but for the most part he just stood there staring at the wall with his ears in a relaxed position.  He did spend a few minutes trying to figure out the knot that held him to the wall, but that ended as soon as he figured out he wasn't getting anywhere.  Another glimpse of what he'll be when he's can't come soon enough!

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