Monday, July 28, 2014

Training Ficus: A five Year Old Green Horse

In the past I have just did blog post on a particulate part of training a horse, but have never followed a horse through all stages of its training with comments and videos in just one post.  This post is an attempt to do just that.  We will follow Ficus from his drop off at the Hideout, until his owner takes him home.

Unloading Ficus at the Hideout:

Ficus is a green 5 year Friesian who hardly know how to lead, let alone take a rider.  The below videos are compilation of the days training and do not capture all of the time we spent playing together.

1st Round Ring Session.  Got him to turn to toward me instead of away from in the directional changes.  Had him walk to me in the center of the ring, then follow me around.  Gave him his first leading lesson, he has a long ways to go. Went over the am in the pm, and then worked on his yielding to pressure and leading. For a horse to lead well it must learn to yield to the pressure of the rope, as he learns his job just the shifting weigh on his lead rope will tell him what to do. 

On inspection I see that I misspelled some words in the video, Ficus did not mind. 

Day 1:
You will note that in the pm session I have removed the fly mask, and put on a rope halter.  The reason is two fold:  I wanted to see his eyes as we play, and the rope halter has knots at pressure points to assist in have the horse comply with the applied pressure.

I would like to point out that though I use a Round Ring, and a lunge line, I uses them to teach lessons, not for exercise or to burn of energy, they are classrooms in effect.  Running is a small circles put a lot of stress on a horse's feet and ankles, and though they may not appear to be lame after they do it for long periods of times, I assure you that they have pain, and cannot preform to their optimal if you run them a lot in tight circles. 

It may appear that I am trying to pull the horse to where I want him to go at times, but nothing could be further from the truth as all 170 pounds of me has not a snowball's chance in hell of pulling a 1,000+ horse any place it does not want to go. What I am doing is applying pressure, and keep the pressure on until the horse moves in the direction I am asking, when he do that I release the presure.  We do this over and over again until he learns his job.

Day 2:

We are making progress, both in the leading and the yielding to pressure.  He tends to forget his job whens she get distracted by the other horses across the driveway.  On Day 2 I decided to let Charley dog give her some more distractions. One of the jobs that he has to learn is that when he is with his rider, the rider is the center of his world, not what is going on around him.

Day 3
Ficus got separation anxiety when I led him away for Red this morning, and got very antes and pushy.  We went into the RR for an hour, he is starting to get the hang of how to turn, but still slow to hook up.  Did a little pushing on his side to get him to move, he has a long ways to go on that.  He has already stepped on my foot more time that I can remember, that has to stop.  Thank goodness for soft ground.

Went out to lead him in the pm, and he was having nothing of it, so I went and got the stud-chain, put his leather halter on, and after an hour and a half he is back to where he was on Day 1.  After letting him rest for a few hours we did some lunging on the short  line, had him go over the tires.

Day 4
Because we have rain coming in Saturday I decided to get the first saddling done today while the Round Ring is still dry.  He took to it with no bucking.  I put a little weight on  both sides by stand on a drop rope, and he did not mind.  He was anticy when I led him to the hitching post where he will stand tied for an hour with the saddle on.  Then I will spend another hour walking him around places he does not want to go. Went back to the Round Ring, put the saddle back on him and let him run, after a bit put the  bridle on his (his first bit), and let him run with that.  Then attached the rains and had him flex his neck.  Put on the long line, and plowed rained him for a while. I turned him loose with the headstall on to get used to the bit.  After he had rested a spell I walked him around a bit with a slack lead rope.  

I always start a horse with a Full Cheek Snaffles.  This allows you to put more pressure on the bit to the side without pulling it out of the mouth than a 'D' or 'O' ring snaffles, or even a half cheek, will allow.  As his response to the bit, lighten  I will switch to the 'D' or 'O' as the owner prefers.  Even if the horse is going to have to transition to a curb bit I will start it with a snaffle.

 Day 5
Worked on loose lead leading, leading without a lead, and plow-reining.  Stood in teh saddle again several times.  I need to either make a mounting block or teach him to park. 

Day 6
Rain, no training in the am.  In the pm I took him into the driveway for some leading in a non-comfort zone, rinsed him off with a hose.  Then worked on getting him to park out, a long ways to go on that. 

Day 7 
No am today, but in the pm we saddled up, did a lot of leading in strange places.  Put weight on his sides in the front yard, and mounted him for the first time at the end of the session in the Round Ring.

Day 8
I had to make two videos of today's sessions, because we covered so much this morning. First ride, leadless leading, lunging on the long line, ground tying, and standing untied to be washed. Not all in that order though. Then this evening we went for our second ride, did some trotting, and rode outside of the round ring.  

We did some leading without the saddle.  Took off the stud chain, and he did well without it,  Lunged him some on the long line, he has a way to go with that.  Then led him to the trailer and saddled him with the black training saddle.  Did some more Leading, and then went in to the Round Ring and rode around for about half an hour.  After unsaddling we went out in the driveway and he got rinsed him off with the hose as he stood ground tied.

Day 9
Led his in the driveway pulling the garbage can beside me until he accepted it.  Did some long line lunging.  Then went into the Round Ring and rode at the walk for an hour.  No pm today.

Day 10
Went back to the short line lunging, worked on walking, trotting on command, and whoaing.  Then we went in the RR and road at the walk for an hour, and after coming out for another 20 minutes in the pasture.  Went into the RR and worked on walk/trot transitions for half an hour, then out into the pasture to walk around for another  half an hour.  Then unsaddled and called it a day.

Day 11- am
Introduced him to the tractor in the am.  Spent an hour getting him to accept it, and all the noise it makes.  He did well, but will need to revisit it.  Did some short line lunging, worked with the walk and changing directions for an hour, then cut him loose for a spell.

Went back in the pm to some more lunging for the camera when he went bonkers, broke away, and ran back up to the hay bail (and Red?)  Caught him, had him do more lunging in the pasture, then took into the Round Ring for another hour.  Decided not to ride him today, just played in the Round Ring.

Day 12
After a little ground work we road for over an hour in the Round Ring, mostly at the trot.  We were trotting figure 8s when we stopped.  After the morning session I move the herd into the dry lot, and let Ficus and Red have the pasture.

In the evening I saddle him up in the pasture, and intended to just walk around, but he got lonely for Red and bolted on me three times running back to Red.  We rode for about an hour and a half.  At the end he was refusing to go forward, so when he moved a little in the direction I asked I call it a day.  

After the end of the session I took Red back to the herd in the dry lot, and brought Spooky over for his company.  Will only do ground work tomorrow, and return to saddle work Sunday.

Day 13
Took Spooky away from him, let his acclimate to being alone in the pasture through the morning.

Led and lunged him for over 2 hours.  He is intent upon the herd, and is hard put to keep his attention on me.  I almost put 
the stud chain back on him.  I am not going to ride him again until he can keep his mind upon what we are doing instead of theherd, until then we will just do ground work. 

Day 14
Did a little lunging after saddling up, and then mounted.  He figured out the other day that he could get out of work by refusing to move.  So the first hours in the saddle today was spent disabusing him of the concept.  The next hour we spent at the walk, turning, and stopping.

No pm work today because of rain.  

                                                                 Day 15
Did some leading away from the front fence, and then rode for over an hour at the walk up near the fence line, getting further and further from the fence as the morn worn on.  He was nervous, but did not bolt.

Played  for another 2 hours in the pm, riding for an hour and a half at the walk  with no sign of a bolt.  My videographer is sick, so no video for this evening, we quit right before dark. 

Day 16
Lunged a little after saddling, then did some leading with the reins.  After that mounted and rode all over the pasture for two hours.  He had an issue with a tractor going down the road, spooked when some leaved hit my head as we went under some low hanging limbs, and even spooked at a butterfly that took flight in front of him.  He is concerned with the bushes that are moved by the wind along side the road as we ride by that fence line.  But!  He did not bolt even though he could see Red and the rest of the herd as we walked around.

Day 17
Lunged a little after saddling, then did some leading with the reins.  After that mounted and rode all over the pasture for two hours.  He had an issue with a tractor going down the road, spooked when some leaved hit my head as we went under some low hanging limbs, and even spooked at a butterfly that took flight in front of him.  He is concerned with the bushes that are moved by the wind along side the road as we ride by that fence line.  But!  On the good side, he did not bolt even though he could see Red and the rest of the herd as we rode around in his plain sight.

Day 18 am
After saddling, lunging, and leading for a while I mounted and we worked on going in straight lines, walking along the fence lines, and started trotting for the first time since we left the Round Ring and he bolted.  Was able to put away the whip I was sing as a crop ever since he did the refusal bit. 

Day 19
Saddled, and after a little lunging to tighten the cinch  rode for over an hour.  I was going to quit after an hour, but he decided to refuse forward movement again.  I got the whip I use for a crop, and just with a little swishing in the air behind his rear changed his mind.  Worked most of the day on turning leg cues.  His right side understands completely, however, his left side has ways to go.

No pm training today.

Day20 am
This morning we worked on standing tied, despooking with a small limb I cut off a tree yesterday, and when he tries to eat the leaves off it got stuck in his halter and scared him  half to death as it chased him and keep up with him no matter how fast or far he went.  After that we worked upon walk/trot/walk/trot/stop transitions, as well as the leg cues. 

Day 20 pm

After despooking again with the tree limb we worked upon walk/trot/walk/trot/stop transitions as well as the leg turning cues. 

Day 21
Spent 2 1/2 hours sacking the him out all around the pasture.  The other day he spooked when some leave hit my helmet and made a noise, and yesterday he spooked when my whip inadvertently hit a fence board.  So today we walked all around the fence and trees with me slapping everything with the whip.  We ended the last hour or so playing with a tarp.

                                                              Day 22- am
Saddled up and rode for about 2 hours, a lot of trotting.  Went over the scary parts of the pasture, and ended up with another hour of sacking. 

Day 23- am
This morning was spent in getting Ficus accepted being lead by another horse, that is, being pony around.  This took about an hour and a half, and counts as ground work.  He will need another session before I take him out on the road.  I want to pony him down to a busy intersection and let him watch traffic.

Day 24- am
Saddled up and road at the walk working on straight lines, leg cues, and scary places for over an hour.  Then trotted for about 50 minutes interspaces with some walking.  Asked his to cantor, but he declined.  After the trotting we did a little sacking.

Day 26
There was a day 25 training, but no video.  There was also an am session today too, but no video. This evening we spent about an hour and a half of walking and trotting with another horse in the pasture. 

Day 27- am

Saddle up and rode over an hour and a half.  The first 20 minutes at a trot, 5 minutes walk, 20 more minutes of trotting, 5 minutes if walking, 15 minutes of trotting, 5 minutes of walking, 10 minutes of trotting, and then over half an hour of walking.  

Day 27 pm
Rode an hour alternating between walk and trot, and then a half an hour at the walk.  Worked on leg cues at both the walk and trot.  Started him on the barrel pattern.

                                                        Day 28
Spent an half hour on ground work, including some long line lunging.  Then because it was so windy we spent the next hour and a half walking in it to get him used to working in the wind and the noise it makes with the trees.  It does not bother him too much when he is not under tack, but his world changes when a rider gets on his back. 

Day 29
No saddle training today, lost a shoe.

Day 30 am & pm
More working with getting him walking on, and his accept the tarp being being rubbed all over him. 

Day 31
After getting shod in the morning, we just walked around some in the evening.  As the session worn on and he got tired of it, he started balking some.  Wanting to swing his turns wide instead of the sharp turn I was asking for.  We quit on a good note just as it was turning dark

.Day 32- am
We spent 2 hours walking and trotting, working on the whoa, and turns this morning.  He was very jumpy today, spooked 3 time over what I do not know, but he does have a good sideways jump in him.

                                                                               Day 32- am
Saddle trained for an hour and a half, mostly at the trot.  Worked on leg cues, whoa, turns.

                                                                             Day 33- am
Saddle trained for little over an hour,  The first 20 minutes was mostly at the walk getting him settled down.  He was spooking at everything this morning.  After that most of the rest of the session was at the trot, working on turns, leg cues to do so, and the whoa.  Before unsaddling we went back to the tarp because he had been spooky, and got set down on my ass.  Brought him back to the point you could rub the tarp
on both sides of his head before we quit.

                                                                             Day 33- pm
Saddle trained for an hour and a half, mostly at the trot.  Worked on leg cues, whoa, turns.

                                                                             Day 34- am
We saddled up early, and rode for over an hour.  Worked at the trot for the most part on leg turning cues, and the stop.  After our saddle time we revisited the tarp.  It was near 90` when we called it a session.

                                                                             Day 35- am
Ficus had gotten into the habit of following me where ever I may walk, and has started to turn to follow me when I walk to his side in order to mount, this had resulted in a little dance that we do when I would go to mount.  To expedite our last several sessions I was having Donna hold his halter to keep him from moving as I mounted.  This morning we address the problem, and we spent some  time retraining him to stand as I get my food in the stirrup to mount. 

After that we saddle trained for over an hour and a half, with over an hour of it being at the trot.  I asked him for the canter several times. but he was disinclined to go faster than the trot.  I will be working on that every day we train  until he picks up the canter.

At the end of out riding time I rode him up to the tarp on the gate, had him put his nose on it before dismounting.  Then  sacked him with the tarp a big longer from the ground.

                                                                             Day 36- am
Worked having his stand unheld for mounting.  Saddled trained to 2 hours with an hour and a half of it at the trot.  I again asked for the canter, and again he declined the request.  He is become a lot more responsive at the trot.  His stop and  transition back to a walk are good, but his transition from a walk back to a trot is poor, and need some improvement.

                                                                             Day 37- am
Ficus started learning how to indirect (neck) reining today.  Before that we worked at the trot to walk transitions as after doing those long stretches of trotting he did not want to slow to a walk when asked.  He had improved some what by the session's end, we worked on that over 2 hours.  For about an hour of this we went over the barrel pattern, trotting to the 'rate' point, and trotting away from the barrel. Then the last 45 minutes we picked up neck raining training.  By the time we quit he had the idea, but is still a long ways from mastering it.

                                                                                Day 37- pm
This afternoon we revisited the tractor, and he did quite well.

Last Day
Laura Lee took Ficus home today.

Videographer: Donna Ruth
 Edited by Rexx 

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