Sunday, February 6, 2011

The next step

I sat on both my horses today.

No, that wasn't a typo. I sat astride my Gwenevere today.

The day started with pulling Coriander out of the pasture and wading over to the indoor to work on circles (we both need tons of practice with those). After some solid work on his part, including not losing his mind when some snow slid off the roof, I brought him back home and pulled Gwen out for some mounting block work.

She had done really well with mounting block work on Friday so I decided to step it up a notch. I stepped into the stirrup and weighted it, she didn't care, so I stood up in it. She still didn't care. I repeated this a few times and switched sides. She still didn't care. I leaned over her back with all my weight. She couldn't have been bothered. Then I put my leg over the saddle and when she still didn't care, I slid onto her back.

She did pop her head up at first, but that's all she did. I immediately gave her a treat and dismounted. After taking a cry break, I sat on her again. All in all I slid on and off her 12 times today, 6 times on each side.

Sadly the event was not without casualties:

My treat bag got caught on the saddle horn when I dismounted. It was on its last legs and was a poor design anyway so I'm not mourning the loss. I think I'm going to make something more like a fanny pack next time.

I'm planning on doing the same routine with her a couple times a week for the next few weeks until she really doesn't care about me sitting on her. Then we'll try for a couple of steps. Meanwhile I'll still pony her off her brother and take her for walks by herself to get her more comfortable with the outside world.

We've taken the next step to making my girl a riding horse!


  1. WooooHoooo! How flipping exciting is that! Good for you and extra treats for Gwen!

  2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    That's totally awesome! Good for you and good for Gwen. Sounds like she did excellently. That's definitely a big step.

    Actually, probably better to have a treat bag that breaks, than one that gets caught on the saddle and won't let go...

    With the several I've started with clicker training, I've just waited until they offered to step forward.

    Usually this ends up being at least several sessions of getting on and off and not going anywhere. And practicing food delivery from the saddle.

    Then when the horse does take 1 step forward, I click and treat. Then we build from there, clicking every time the horse offers a couple of steps forward.
    (which sounds like it's similar to what you already have in mind.)



  3. Yahoo!!! What a good girl she is! Lots of treats for Gwen! And, treats for you, too, for being so patient with her! Congrats on this huge step forward with your beautiful girl.

  4. Thanks everybody, I'm really happy about how well she did. Now we just need to do it again, and again, and again...

    Thanks for the pointers Mary, I'll definitely wait for her to make the first move. And yeah, it was certainly better to have the bag break than not. Yet another issue with the western saddle that I wasn't prepared for. I'll stick with filling my pockets until the weather is too warm to wear a coat.

  5. What a good girl! Congratulations to both of you-it doesn't really get better than that;)

  6. Very exciting - like that she's so calm about the whole thing.

  7. What a great start to riding her. I must teach our horses to take treats from a mounted person. It will be fun to watch you progress from this to riding.

  8. Well done!!! That is wonderful. I went back and read your older posts about mounting Gwen.
    You can be very proud to have made this giant step by taking it slow.

  9. YAYYYY!!!! What an exhilarating feeling. So good to hear this!!

  10. Thanks!

    She's been ready to try again for a while, sadly it took me a lot longer to let go of the fear. The fear is still there but it was losing the battle to excitement and anticipation.

  11. Congrats!!!!!! That's a great achievement and I know is super exciting for you. Can't wait to see those videos of you riding her soon! :)

  12. Video might be a while coming, my videographer is my husband and he's not too keen on me riding her due to the whole "you have metal in your leg because of her" thing.

    I do have plans to put up some footage of Coriander in action though.

  13. Woohoo! Congratulations, that's a really big step for her. I have a hunch you'll be riding her by the spring/summer. Step by step she's getting there. It's so nice you're taking the time with her to do it right. Too bad about the treat bag, that's the most important part of the lesson.

  14. Fortunately I had pockets so I just stuffed the treats in them. Should have done that in the first place I guess.

  15. Very cool! I love that "after taking a cry break." I'm glad I'm not the only one :)