I believe that tonight I may have learned my most important horse lesson EVER. The slow way is the fast way. I didn't start my afternoon with thoughts of a huge shift in training dynamics. My way has been the time pressured way. I have to get this done today because I want to do this tomorrow. A set of blinders were ripped off my eyes and I saw something clearer than I've ever done before. It wasn't even a self-discovery that can be credited to myself. My husband who has the patience of a saint (especially with the animals) was observing my trying to get Phebes through "THE CURTAIN OF DEATH" from the ground. She was frantic, she was pulling, she was pushing...you know, normal Phebes. LSEGH says just stop a minute. Let's think about this. Try lunging her a little ways from it and then take a little step closer each time she makes the circle. Yes....like getting them into the water for the first time. I thought to myself Phebes is frantic and afraid, that is no way to approach a new obstacle with that level of energy. Another cog had clicked into place. SLOW IT DOWN. So we walked some circles, and we reversed, and we walked more circles, and more, and more, and more until she was willing to tentatively touch "THE CURTAIN OF DEATH" with her nose. We finished the session by weaving through it, just barely touching those things. Phebes was standing there yawning, and intermittently touching the shower curtain, and then the pool noodles with her nose. It was the best session we have ever had. She was calm, and I was calm. And you know what? We got it done. The old way would not have got it accomplished before I reached maximum frustration. You see, what unhinges me in a training session is being pushed by the horse, and this usually occurs because I HAVE PUSHED the horse too FAST. Some of you may be yawning and thinking "dumb woman, we already knew that about you." That's okay. But I really didn't realize it about myself. Until today. You can give me a blue sticker, because today I finally GOT IT.
Journey had a training session too. The slow way. And we are getting it. Though the rope is still like a piece of well cooked spaghetti, it is becoming easier. I did it (I hope) the trainer's way. Guess what happened? Journey stepped over, and yielded her hindquarters very calmly. Michaela may have to make some alterations in style...but I think before we go back we will have it down pat.
The Obstacle Course
LSEGH raised up the five caveletti thingies today. The guidelines said they had to be at least six inches. We have them about seven. I figure it will teach the mares to pick their feet up that little extra bit. Anyone know how to get Journey to clear that very last step where she clicks the board? Or will she naturally get better about picking up and putting down those hooves?
I climbed a ladder and risked bodily injury today hanging THE CURTAIN OF DEATH from our old Catalpa tree. It is three obstacles in one. A blowy old blue tarp, then a row of Pool Noodles dangling from knotted ropes (to simulate vines) and last but not least a clear vinyl shower curtain that I slit so it has pieces that flutter this way and that. While Phebes was sure her life was coming to a quick end, Journey was doing her best to tear the thing down! Cree was neutral, just watching all the goings on.
The next project will be a jump. I've always wanted one and Funder you'll be proud of my ingenious creativity. I'm going to purchase four bags of the fluffy stall bedding that is compressed and wrapped in plastic. Then the bags will be wrapped with black trash bags, and duct taped into big black bricks. I'll put two down longwise as the jump, and one on each side as a barrier to block the horse trying to dive to either side. I think these will about meet the height criteria of an eighteen inch jump.
Still to build:
The gate obstacle, the wooden bridge, the mailbox, a square box for the front end, hind end movement . Too save on money I will probably put these out in the woods so I can utilize trees instead of having to set posts.
My two long days are coming up....so I might be scarce. ~ E.G.
Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance
Favorite Links for training, gear, and memberships!
- National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering
- HOW TO CMO
- What is CMO?
- Old Dominion Endurance Rides
- Renegade Hoof Boots
- Riding vs. Racing a discussion with the Duck.
- Trumbull Mountain's INTRO TO ENDURANCE RIDING
- Principles of Conditioning
- Conditioning the endurance horse by SERA
- Short Article: Feeding & Training the Endurance Horse
- Feeding the Endurance Horse, Swedish Author
- Preventing Dehydration In the Endurance Horse, Ontario Competitive Trail Riding Association
- Jim Holland's fantastic training links here!
- South Eastern Distance Rider's Association