I have done a lot of ground work over the past few years. She bathes, ties, loads, stands for the farrier, stands ground tied, is good in traffic, loads in a straight haul and angle haul, and has been hauled out to new arenas and trail both alone and with a friend. She has also been saddled at least 30+ times in the last year and will take a bit. While she is certainly not lacking for "ground work" what I haven't done with her is make her work... She hasn't been round penned, long lined or made to do any serious work on the lunge. All of my sessions other than our trips "out" have been short, sweet and positive. The biggest "hole" she has is one that I had intentionally left untouched- she hasn't been sacked out. My #1 goal has been to make sure that Hola retained her really light "feel". I tried really hard to make sure that she was still very willing to move off any driving pressure. If I swing a rope at Hola she will scooch her bum and hustle out of the way. Hola is highly reactive when you ask her to move. What I learned the hard way is that you need forward motion to train. When, ten years ago, I started my colt Keo, I tried really hard to make him "dead quiet"... what I got was "dead". It was nearly impossible to put that lightness and drive back into a horse. Mind you, I talked to his owners a few years ago and they said that horse has never spooked at anything, ever, and you could literally ride him down the middle of the freeway and he wouldn't so much as bat an eye. Keo also won the High School Rodeo championships in breakaway roping... so I guess he didn't get that bad of a start! I am off track:)...
Hola is snappy... like, freakily quick footed and as light as feather when you get her working. I took a lot of time getting her ready for that saddle and even so she did get to bucking pretty hard the first time she trotted and felt it bounce on her back. That is my biggest issue. Hola likes to buck and rear. She has never reared or bucked on the lead line, ever... but in the field she will hop up and buck and fart like a new born foal. All. The. Time. She also loves to run hell bent for leather and fence herself, leaving perfect ten foot 11's (sliding stops) in the grass. Oh, and bonus, she falls down. No, she isn't "out", I've had her looked at by vet and chiro, she just thinks that she can roll back over 180 degrees and not get her legs tangled up. And she doesn't even hit the ground hard, she will wipe it, roll with the momentum, hop up, crow hop, shake and then walk off like nothing happened. She is so athletic it scares me. Why I am starting her?
I don't know if I will start her. It depends on where I get in the next 30 days. My plan is to get her "sacked out" mentally and filled out physically before getting on. She is bigger but still slight and very lean muscled. I want her to pack some weight around to develop some muscle in her back and get her working on the line. We will see.
My biggest issue with her so far has been that Hola has had a really hard time accepting the back cinch (which I have buckled up to her belly).I have done prep work from day one with ropes on her belly and girth line to prepare her for the cinch. The front cinch really wasn't an issue when I finally cinched her up. The first few times she trotted with the saddle she did get to bucking a little but it really didn't surprise me because Hola L.O.V.E.S to buck but with the front cinch she really got over it quickly. Late last year I prepared her for a back cinch again with ropes and the day came where I finally cinched up that back girth. I wasn't surprised that she got broncy on that day but was surprised when she got broncy pretty much every time after... not when you cinch it or even when you walk her out but as soon as that saddle moves around a lot (up and down hills, trot, lope etc.) she will go bronc. My response in the past has been to just pull her around to a stop and send her back out again and usually after a one or two times she quits but if she is wearing that back cinch and something spooks her she will get to bucking again. I cant seem to get her passed it. I don't know what the right answer is... give up and come back to it later or work her passed it.
Here is a summery of our work so far.
July 25th, 2014
Quiet and easy saddled lunge. Bucked when first trotted not after.
July 26th, 2014
Worked with ropes coming off the saddle/dragging behind her. She was pretty reactive which surprised me as she has done this before but never saddled. Started to realize her reaction to things saddled was much greater than unsaddled. Started to get behind her and drive forward rather than stand at center. Bucked when pushed.
July 27th, 2014
Worked with plastic bag/sacking out. Had a panic attack about the bag disappearing from vision around her chest. Found that she wanted to blow up if I encouraged her to stand and look rather than walk forward. Went bronc if standing still when bag goes to blind spot but if I got her moving before putting it there she only bucked a few times and then moved on.
July 28th, 2014
Worked with plastic bag again having her move and follow it rather than freezing. Walked around the field waving the flag under and around her legs while having her move. Threw ropes around, at her. Drove her from behind a little. Small buck, just a couple hops. Moving seems to be the ticket.
July 29th, 2014
Used lunge whip without bag and had her recognize my body intention and move forward/not react to the whip moving rhythmically around her. Threw lines around her body. Had her swing around from pressure on the opposite side of where I was standing. No buck.
July 30th, 2014
Worked with ropes around saddle, swinging at her and having her follow the feel to spin around.
Lunged. No buck.
July 31st, 2014
I cant remember this work or if I gave her the time off but I think I might have driven her around the field and tried to see if I could get her used to the line on both sides of her so that I could long line her but she was pretty reactive about it and my line kept getting hung up in my saddle so I decided to wait and try without a saddle. But this might have been the day before. Grrr! THIS is why I need the journal!
This eve I took Marm out to be ridden by a professional barrel racer. More on that in another post.
August 1st, 2014
Our worst day. I took her out saddled and the first time I threw the line over her back she wanted to go broncy but this time I didn't just pull her to a stop and start again. I decided that enough was enough and that every time she bucked I was going to drive on her hip until she flattened out. It wasn't pretty. She tried to pull the line through my hand but I held (have blisters to prove it) and once she got moving out I also went to fixing the little pull she has had going on by giving her a hard bump inward to get her off of the line. She really didn't like that either.
I also really set her to work this day. She got really worried about it but I didn't lay off after a only a circle or two. She was really worried about having to canter three or four circles in a row and kept trying to quit but I wouldn't let her. I stayed with her until she completed a circle without having to be told and then just waited until she settled down and looked less stressed before quitting entirely. I then went back to some things she knew (following the lead through) and gave her a long in hand walk around the field followed by a 15 minute cold hose of her legs. This was the day I needed her figure that she in the real world she was going to have to suck it the fuck up. Short, sweet, low pressure baby training is over. She is going to have to learn to work. I knew she wasn't going to like it but she needs to figure out that she working doesn't mean she is in trouble. I realize that is my fault... I work her when she is naughty until she quits being naughty and then I quit. Now she thinks moving out means she is in trouble and get's stressed when I make her work for a longer period of time.
|Hola after The Hardest Day|
August 2nd, 2014
Day Off. I would have liked to give her a nice soft low pressure work this day but I wasn't able to make it to barn.
August 3rd, 2014
Didn't saddle. Notched down pressure level to make for a nice quiet no pressure 15 minute lunge. She loped on her own and didn't get jazzed. Going to work back up to some hard works mid week.