Horse Training

100 Days of Redemption: Days 31-40

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Isaiah 44:22

Day 31: We kept it short today. Redemption was more in front of the leg (excitable) which made for easier lateral movements since she was extra responsive. I rode her in the bareback pad and we practiced a new exercise of the day: Leg-yield from quarter-line to rail and then (3) transitions into and out of shoulder-In before reaching the short side.

Day 32: It was a rainy mess today – my friend Tatum rode Redemption bareback with just a halter and lead-rope to cross a creek that came up almost to her chest to get to a pasture where Elek is. She was then ponied (led by rider on another horse) back across the creek. This was a naughty day for Redemption in cross-ties. She wanted to stick with Elek; she wasn’t standing well and acted anxious when Elek went out of sight. Once under saddle, she tried to run through the shoulder on trot circles to be near him.  It’s fine if she has desires and opinions, it was just a learning opportunity that she’s not allowed to do what she wants when working. She responded to reprimands well, and by the end she was listening well enough to practice our exercise from yesterday. She was so good that we started leg-yield from the center-line instead of the quarter-line. Tatum and Elek were jumping, so Redemption and I spontaneously popped over a tiny vertical to see what she would do. She is a smooth and eager jumper.

We cantered both ways, I’m pleased that she’s so responsive and not rushing into the canter. This is the first horse I’ve trained from the start to halt after we canter, and so far it’s really helpful. This leads to an instant reward for her, nice engagement to sit for the downward transition, and completely skips the typical bouncy trot that comes out of canter.

Day 33: She’s been worked 7 days in a row so today was a rest day; I took her treats and we worked on standing and improving her patience after mounting. She has started to try to predict what I will request, meaning she doesn’t want to stand while being mounted. After a few minutes of consistency at the mounting block, we were back to being respectful and patient.

Day 34: Today we rode in the indoor arena and worked on walk-trot transitions, lateral movements, and serpentine circles. I want her to stretch into my outside rein when I ask for an upward transition – this ensures that her topline remains engaged, allowing me to keep her on the bit without having to “start over” with each gait change. Her lateral movements were decent, just practicing previous days’ exercises. Serpentines are an excellent way to keep the horse moving from one rein to the other, as they have to change their bend every few strides.

Thinking Forward

Day 35: This was one of our longer rides: we went across the street to the outdoor arena with Drifter. Redemption picked up easily, she was responsive and forward, though difficult to keep her in the canter. She bucked on 2 occasions when I told her to keep going past Drifter, but then she was attentive and obedient so we stopped to reward

Day 36: After our hard ride yesterday, today we relaxed. I rode Redemption in the bareback pad at the walk only, working on maintaining impulsion and suppling her jaw, poll and shoulders. She is becoming automatic for shoulder-in and leg-yield.

Day 37: Last day before I left for Colorado for a week! It was incredibly cold today, so I did not want to make her work hard. We walked around the farm bareback with a halter; I haven’t ridden her in just a halter since the first week! We just worked on her relaxing and not anticipating anything.

Day 38: First day back after my trip to Colorado. My husband brought Redemption up to the stall for me, and said she was easy to catch. He is not experienced with horses, and has caught Redemption once, several weeks ago, and had to follow her as she initially walked away from him. Since then I have been treating her when caught and working on ensuring she gets an immediate and sufficient reward to help change her perception of what being caught means.

Her teeth were floated, and the dentist agreed on age of 7 years: she has really good teeth but some sharp edges, we are thinking this was her first time having her teeth filed, so this is totally understandable. She’s a lightweight with the tranquilizer, and handled the whole experience well.

Day 39: First ride in over a week! I purposefully didn’t carry a whip, I just wanted to see what she remembered/volunteered. She was good and remembered our lateral movements, but needed a lot of reminders to stay off my leg (move forward without being asked). It was like she was still in vacation mode. Just walk and trot as we got the gears going again.

Day 40:  She had such a good attitude this morning. I carried a whip today and she was darn near perfect: forward in an engaged, thinking way, and definitely more relaxed, supple and obedient after her time off.