December 9, 2011

Friday Lesson Wrap-up: Breakthrough!

My heart sank a little when I got to the barn a few minutes before my lesson and realized that Contender was still out in his field.  I was ready to accept riding Adagio when we managed to get him to run up the track toward the main barn.  I followed, slowly, and stopped a few feet from him.  Every move I made was electric to him, and he was snorting and clearly enjoying himself.  Cautiously, I held out two of his favorite apple treats, and he sniffed them like I'd poisoned them and tossed his head, but didn't walk away.  I held them out a wee bit further, and finally, he took them.  I then turned around slowly and walked away in order to stand several feet from him, facing away.  Rinse, repeat, two more times, and on the third time, he was relaxed enough that I decided to scratch his cheek.  Then his throatlatch.  Then his neck.  Finally, I was able to put the lead rope around his neck and the halter on his head with no fuss whatsoever.  MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH!

I don't expect the hard-to-catch thing to go away overnight, and it's not like he was easy to catch this time - we still had to herd him somewhere in order to catch him, but being able to approach and halter him at liberty was a major step in the right direction.

The lesson ended up going just as well.  So well, in fact, that she asked, "How many times has he been ridden since our last lesson?"  The answer, because I didn't ride on Monday, was once, the day after the lesson.  "Very impressive, especially for only having one ride in between."  His "hopping" was much reduced, my body position (besides my stupid left hand!) was improved, and we were working together as a team better than ever.  We did some shallow serpentines, some shallow serpentines that incorporated approximately 12m circles, some rudimentary turns on the forehand, and lots and lots and lots of transitions.

His canter is definitely going to be the most difficult gait to tackle.  Due to youth, inexperience and a lack of muscling, he tends to launch himself into it, but then settles down into a really nice, rolling canter afterward.  I find it very easy to sit; it doesn't move the rider much, but his legs are doing crazy things underneath me!  Love those Cob gaits!

With each ride, I get more and more confident that I made the right decision, and that's a great place to be.


  1. I think you will fix that little problem quicker than you plan. Cobs are quick. We could barely catch Rosemary for her vet check and not even a month later she was coming to us from an open field of grass. We just bring treats and scratches at random times during turnout. They love attention.
    Comrade and I are still working the canter too. Lots of transitions to get him to use his hind end.

  2. Lovely pic of you and Contender! Despite your left hand! Enjoying hearing about your lessons.