Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lessons in patience

I wrote this last night in the low-tech way because we - as happens in wintertime on the river - were in the middle of a power outage, so I used Notepad.

Part of what is interesting and entertaining about working with a new horse is learning them, their quirks, and the right things to do to communicate with them in order to motivate them to cooperate with you.

Sometimes it's a true test of patience, stubborness and ingenuity.

Last night I did okay with the first two in that list, but could have used some inspiration along the lines of the altter.

Granted, it was a (to paraphrase Snoopy) "dark and stormy night" and Bar had not been worked in the indoor arena under such conditions, yet. I did what everyone tells me to do and lunged him first and when he stopped and faced me, we stood for a minute and listened to the rain pound down on the metal roof and looked out into the dark outside the arena. He seemed alert, but responded well and wasn't pushy or nervous leaving the round pen.

Then I tried to get on. Yes, call me goofy, but I really prefer my horses to stand still while I get on.

I think we backed around the entire arena 7 times! He'd be standing still, I'd put my foot in the stirrup and he'd start to circle around me. I think he thought I'd give up so he could go back to his alfalfa and leave this riding nonsense to a more reasonable time of day.

Silly boy.

I did finally get on because I knew I couldn't lose that battle. We didn't work very long after that, and then I made him stand still again while I got off. He thought I was mean.

Too bad.

If I could do it again, I would try harder not to get frustrated with him because I know he can sense it and it really doesn't help the situation.

I also wonder about lunging. I know that common practice is to lunge a horse like him (and like Lena for that matter) but I swear it makes him even more wired. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, who knows.

I'm going to try a different approach next time and go right into riding to see if it makes a difference. It may not, but he certainly couldn't be more wired than he was even after I lunged him, so I figure it's worth a try.

I do realize it was another new situation for him. It was the first time riding at night, in the rain and wind, in the indoor arena. He saw Lena and Steve finish up and probably couldn't figure out why he had to be out working alone while she was eating. (Lena has been known to be less cooperative at feeding time as well.)

And I don't even blame him for testing me, that's his job. I just wish I could have stepped outside of the situation last night and thought of this then, rather than armchair quarterbacking myself now. Not that I would have let him get away with anything, just that it might have helped my own reactions which would have in turn helped manage the situation better and helped us both.

Oh, well. All part of the learning curve.

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