Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Front wheel steering

No more excuses, we're working on steering even if I can only do it in the barn aisle.

Last night Coriander got reintroduced to the bit. I did very basic ground exercises with him. I put light tension on the outside rein and then asked him to give to the inside rein. Sort of a light introduction to contact. I'm glad that I'm doing this with him from the ground first. He didn't have a fit about it or anything, he just isn't very comfortable with it. He still mouths the bit like crazy and stiffens up against it. He actually poked his nose up in the air to try to get around it last night. He never pokes his nose up, so that was different. He did bring his head back down, but I'll definitely wait to climb on his back until that reaction is gone.

Then it was Gwen's turn. She's working with the sidepull and responding really well to it. This is the third time I've worked with her on this, so I started out standing at her shoulder and asked for nose tipping from one side to the other. As an aside- I don't make my horses bend their necks all the way around until their nose touches their shoulder like I've seen some trainers do. I don't see the point of that. I can't think of any situation in which it would be necessary to ride with my horse's head cranked around to the side like that. Is it a flexibility thing?

Anyway, all I was looking for was a nose tip and release in tension from the rein I was pulling. She did so well at that we started on the next step, moving her feet. Standing at her left shoulder, I put tension on the left rein and pushed on her belly at the girth area: asking her to turn with the rein and move away from the pressure. She's a rockstar, she did really well at this from both sides.

Unfortunately the night didn't end on a good note. It was worming day and they were both not very good about it. I think I'm going to have to try the sugar water trick I read about. Fill the worming tube with sugar water and give it to them randomly so they learn that not every syringe being poked into their mouth is full of nasty stuff.


  1. I like your idea of desensitizing them by giving them random syringes of sugar water. Gwen seems to be really coming along! I admire your dedication to both of your horses. Have you been on Coriander before or is everything new to him also?

  2. Thanks, Wolfie. I started riding Coriander last September. Before I got him he'd been backed ~4 times. So I started with him as if he'd never been ridden at all. That meant using a sidepull (bitless bridle). He goes very well in that but if I want to show him someday he'll need to get used to having a bit in his mouth. Plus I want to start Gwen in the sidepull so he'll need his own bridle anyway.

  3. For worming prep-- apple sauce works really well too.


  4. Apple sauce, eh? I've got some of that too...