December 6, 2011

Making Each Visit Count

One of the hardest things about keeping Contender 45 minutes/$7 in gas away from my house is that I feel the need to make each visit count.  I have to keep reminding myself something my mom told me many times growing up, when I didn't have anyone to lesson with and wasn't allowed to ride our horse, that there's more to having a horse than just riding, and sometimes it's the groundwork that counts more.
At least pretend you like this stuff!

I found out that Contender's game of hard-to-catch is not a one off thing, but something he's done the entire time he's been in regular work.  It's turned in to an actual game for him at this point, and it will be a long, slow process to work through.  I never knew about it because the whole time I've known him, he's been mostly hanging in the pasture at Lisa's and was always very easy to catch.  Here, it's like he had one lesson in the indoor and did a "NOPE!"

So, although it hurt a little bit to drive all that way and not ride, knowing I had homework from my trainer to work on, I did it.  He needs to learn that not every interaction with me will involve hard work, or riding.  Tonight involved lots of treats, a relaxed grooming session, some work giving to pressure, moving his body in different ways from the ground, and putting on/taking off the halter many times.  None of this was directly addressing the core issue, but it's indirectly addressing it through making him more comfortable and happy with me, the routine, and the new barn.  Not to get all fluffy and anthropomorphic on you, but it's also establishing my role as a leader in the relationship and someone to trust - something that I know will take time to fully cement.

Now the "little man," as my barn mates have taken to calling him, gets his usual two days off before our lesson on Thursday.  Here's hoping for progress!

(Photo credit again to Austen at Guinness on Tap)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the reminder that it is important to have 'fun' horse visits!