July 16, 2015

May 18, 2015 -- Patience, Persistence, and Praise

Yes, I borrowed the title from Jessica Jahiel. I think it applies very well to what I did today.

But I'm getting ahead of myself; I should start with introductions.

Those who came here from the HGS forums will likely know me. Full-time student, mom of one, and keeper of two dogs, a cat, and a very special filly. Gossip is the second horse I've owned since foalhood, and this is starting out as her training log. She's a dun yearling QH filly, standing 14hh at the moment. Our eventual destination is the dressage ring, but first we have to go through all of the steps you'd expect to get there. I've been going to school 3.5 hours away from her, so we're a bit behind the training schedule according to some people, but I have faith that we'll get there... with the 3 P's listed above. :)

Gossip is going to be shown at halter in July, not by me but by a junior who actually knows what she's doing (I've never shown a young horse in halter). Step one appears to be to brush up on her leading, which is sometimes easier said than done with a brave, opinionated youngster. I absolutely don't want to train her by force and domination, and sometimes she has her own ideas of what we're going to do today.

Some of you may have read in her thread in Horse Chat that we had a bit of a training hiccup last week when the herd spooked and I lost control of her. Today's lesson was that yes, I do have control of your feet. Unfortunately we don't have access to the round pen at the moment, since some of the panels are temporarily serving another purpose. Regardless, I wouldn't be round penning her in the traditional sense of the term (no running in circles for her young joints), but it would be a confined space away from the rest of the herd where we could practice and try new things. Since it's out of commission, we worked in the big field. Today Gossip tried planting her feet when she didn't want to go where I wanted to go. I had her on a longe line instead of the leadrope in case of another spook, but it wasn't necessary even though it was quite windy again. Got to love spring for the wind! She yields to pressure sideways and back very well, so each time she got "stuck" I turned her by moving her hips. Then we'd make a loop and resume our original direction. It took some doing a few times, but we wound up going everywhere I wanted us to go. You can plant your feet or you can come along, but eventually I'm going to get my way.

Patience and persistence! And every time she gave me the right answer, of course there was praise!

I know that I can't expect a yearling to have the attention span of an older horse, so I try to keep our sessions short and positive. Today, as soon as I took her halter off Gossip laid down. She then flopped on her side and closed her eyes with a big sigh. There's a picture on her thread. Apparently learning to be a good citizen is hard work!

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