Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back To Basics with Rosie

Something I've been a bit embarrassed to discuss is Rosie's ability to walk all over me... literally.   She just has no concept of personal space, I don't think it's a lack of respect as there is absolutely nothing mean about her.  She just has no clue what I'm asking.  She was NEVER EVER taught this...

Backing up.. She does back up, but you have to tap her the front of her shoulder and she will pick up and move a foot... at her pace.  Nothing quick or snappy.  If I get more intense she gets confused... not frustrated... confused is the right word.

She's fidgeting when grooming, she stands still to be saddled, mostly.. ok not much at all.   She does NOT stand to be mounted.  It's all very frustrating because other than this she is the most awesome horse!!!   My trainer claims "She's young you can't expect her to stand still?!?!"

My answer to this has now become  "She's 6 yrs old - when will she learn to stand still???  When will she figure out she can't walk forward into my space?"

Rosie is almost (if not at) 17 HH and she's right around 2000 LBS.  It's time Rosie stands still and MOVES out of space when asked.

So I called my friend who rescued and trained Bonnie.  Explained what was up and asked for advice.  He's a great "natural horsemanship" guy, but he also is not afraid to go out side of that box.

So here's the deal.. I can not move this horse backwards... I can't be "the post" because if she stepped on me she's GOING to break something!  But she WILL move sideways away from me.   She DOES lunge... and she is LAZY!

My friend told me to give up on the "backing up" for now.  Just get her moving in SOME direction except FORWARD when she evades.

So I cleared the barn isle of anything that wasn't bolted down.  I told the manager that unless he heard me scream CALL 911 to ignore any loudness from me (he laughed and said "good luck").  Pffttt!!!!

No cross ties ~ Dressed in Super Stiff 4 Knot rope halter with a 12 ft lead with popper on the end, and my carrot stick in hand.

Rosie learned quickly (took one time) that we stand still while being brushed OR we go sideways down the isle with mom tapping us incessantly, and aggressively waving her arms at us.

Next saddle... I stepped back and took a deep breath, closed my eyes and envisioned saddling/girth tightening without a fight.

You know what ... she didn't move a muscle except her tail to swat flys!!!!!

I left the rope halter on under her dressage bridle I wanted to be able to immediately correct her if she stepped away.  Kind of hard to do that when you've got NOTHING attached to the horse except rope tied around the neck.  She did raise her head out of my reach.. something she has ALWAYS done.  Nice thing about rope halter.. those extra knots are on sensitive spots.  Just pushed on them gently and the head came down.  She got a treat!  We did that a few times before I asked her to open her teeth to the bit.  Which she does quite readily... it's HERE that the head goes up so I can't get the bridle over the ears.

Then out the door to the arena... and the B-52's.  I told her ~ be good and do as I ask this will be quick!  I promise!

Open the gate. she walked thru ok but then tried to run me over when I was closing it... immediately I forced her to yield hind quarters until I got 10 good step overs.  I patted her, then turned and fiddled with the gate.  I'll be, she just watched me!!!!

Off to walk the course... 3 steps - halt - 2 steps halt - around the barrel halt.  Ok..

Queue to backup she shifts weight, turns head to the right and steps FORWARD! ugh... I very quickly sent off at a snappy trot close enough I can tap her butt with my carrot stick.   Keep it up until she licks her lips relaxes.  Stop her and don't approach her.  She moved toward me again.. so once again... around she goes.. this time I demand a canter.  A draft can canter, but not on a tight circle.. it's very difficult.  I don't relent until she's made 4 circles one way.. change direction and 4 the other.

Stop ~ she's starting to heat up a bit... but this time she just stands and looks at me!!! I am sooo pleased!

I pat and praise and help her swat flys.  Then ask for the back again WHAMO!!! three steps quicker then she's ever done it!  LOT O'PRAISE!!!!!

Next hurtle... mounting... I use anything I can climb on to get on her... today was a chair.  I was ready to make her hind quarter yield or lunge again at the first step away from the chair...

NOPE She stood ROCK SOLID!!! Even waited for my queue to walk on!!!  Again hordes of praise as this was a first!

I asked for a stretch out and down at the walk - on the buckle down center line.   I collected and at X I asked for side pass for 4 steps... I got it!  I asked for trot, she wanted to rush so I half halted with one rein (almost like a one rein stop, but I didn't stop her).  Walk/trot/walk/halt/trot transitions for about 5 minutes until things were snappy and consistent and half halts were done correctly with core muscles and wiggle ring finger no more rein.   The rising trot both directions on 20 meters... called it day.

Untacking and post ride groom she stood perfectly still  *grins* untied, lead tossed over my shoulder!!!

Going back tomorrow evening for more fun and games!

 I open to any suggestions, things that have worked for others...


  1. Oh man Jeni!
    I am so smiling and happy for you!!!!
    You know..."Boring them with the Details" is truly the key. If they step three, that were not asked for...whats ten MORE? If they Move in on you...move them away...oopps ,did you run into my elbow flapping?! If they step away from the mounting "Object"...move em back and back and back...
    My sissy tells it like this," I have all day and night, and someone will bring me refreshments if I want!"

    You did excellently!She probably really enjoyed using the brains cells today!!!
    If you are mediocre..so will she be..if you are concise...yup..so can she be!

    I had a difficult time being firm with my mare at first...but, I had too..she still does test me too...but I usually just pick up the training stick- that does it. If not, I whack it on the ground once. That makes her blow out her nostrils and relax, "okay- I'm under your guidance now...I won't lead you!"

    Keep it up, it will be safer for all involved!

  2. YOU ROCK Jeni!!! AWESOME job with her!! I am so glad you got all of that accomplished! DD's mare doesn't like to stand real still when she is being groomed I can usually hold my hand up on the side she is trying to move to and she'll stop. But she is still for mounting etc. so I won't complain about the grooming steps!

    Can't wait to hear more progress with her!

  3. Nice stuff! You'll enjoy the "Boundaries" horse when we get to that post - lots of good stuff in there, but it sounds like you're on the road already.

  4. Jeni, great work! Isn't it wonderful when they "get it" and do what is being asked of them? One of the first things I taught Gilly was to stand while being mounted and to come over to where I am standing so I can mount. If we are out in the woods and I get off, I can stand on a rock or stump and ask him to move over to me so I can get on, he does. It's, to me, one of the best things I have taught him!!!
    Can't wait to hear more!!! :-)
    Good job!!


Happy Trails!