March 29, 2009

My funny horse

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it
(Rita Mae Brown)
Hello? Anybody home?

Those of you who have read earlier posts on my blog know that I use treats when I train.
A while ago we were working to get the trot extensions to function better.
They are now coming along nicely.
As the spring is approaching, so is also the show season.
I decided to ride through some of the program exercises on Fame on Wednesday last week.
Most of it worked out OK, but every time we were to lengthen the canter on the diagonals she happily kicked in the turbo and turned deaf when I asked her to collect at the end.
So what should I do?
She clearly wasn’t listening.
I don’t like to get rough with my hands.
So I opted for a positive approach.
Next diagonal when she took off I took hold of the reins and planted my seat firmly in the saddle, but once she had listened and stopped she got praise and a treat.
Repeat, repeat.
And the result was still turbo on the diagonal, but collection and stop at the end.
No rough hands, no tense horse.
Could still be better, but a large improvement from where we started.
So we rounded off for that day.

Next day we also worked in the arena.
When I started to warm up in trot/walk Fame offered canter several times.
I scratched my head and wondered why.
And then I got it.
She got treats while training canter yesterday!
And don’t tell me that:
1) horses are stupid
2) treats doesn’t work
I just had to laugh out loud. My funny, wonderful horse.
So we did some canter that day too.


We had lovely weather in the weekend, so I took Fame out trail riding again.

We still have lots of snow, and we got some more on Friday.

Crossing the creek

The gravel road on the other side of the creek in the bottom of the valley is having a long strech open to the sun.
It was bare from snow, and soft on the surface.
Fame and I looked at the strech in front of us and were of one mind. So we happily cantered away. Sun was shining, and the wind was mild - it was springtime for sure...
After that we had a short detour up in the hillside for some more canter work, and on the way down we met my daughter and her pony on the way up.

What is she doing up there?

Yes, she is riding in a T-shirt, stupid thing.
I was riding in wool underwear, a fleece pullover and a down vest.
No comments.

Look at my sleepy turbo-horse in the sun, lol!
Charlie is having his optimistic looking-cute-and-maybe-it'll-turn-up-some-carrots-look on his face...

I used much time in the weekend to look for a good deal on a new computer as my old one is beyond rescue.
I finally found one Dell computer that they had a very reasonable weekend offer on, so I ordered it.
Downside was that I won't get it until April 10th, which they didn't inform me about until the order was placed.


OnceUponAnEquine said...

Young women seem to handle the cold much better than us..em..mature ladies. My stepdaughters often where flip-flops in the snow. My toes would freeze and fall off.

Beautiful pictures. You have some incredible trail riding there. I don't know if your friend will find anything as nice around Denver, although Colorado is a beautiful state. I'm not having much luck finding a rental stable. I think she'll need to ask around when she gets here. One co-worker suggested Wild West Ranch in Arvada, Colorado. He's not ridden there but says it looks like it might have some nice trails. But I don't know anything about them or their horses. I can't tell much from their website

OnceUponAnEquine said...

My co-worker just said he went on a nice scenic ride at a stable near Glenwood Springs but that is a couple hours drive from Denver.

There is a big park called Garden of the Gods about an hours drive south of Denver. There is riding in the park, but again, I've not ridden there so can't tell you personally what it is like. They have a nice video on their website:

Rising Rainbow said...

I think people who think horses are dumb don't really know horses. It doesn't surprise me she'd want to canter after getting rewarded with treats.

A T-shirt in the snow is probably way too cold for me. I'd be wearing lots more layers than that. LOL

Irene said...

Vilka underbara naturbilder! Tycker din dotter är störtskön!

HorseOfCourse said...

Thank you, OnceUpon for your help and efforts!
I will pass it on, I am super grateful for your input, kudos!
When it comes to scenery, I believe Colorado has more to offer than we have here.
I still have vivid memories from that TV-serie from many years back, you remember? I am a bit envious on my friend though, as I've never been in the US.
In the meantime I am enjoying your marvellous pictures!

And yes, mature ladies freeze.
Whenever I see my daughter I hear my Mum tell me to put some more clothes on inside me, so I try think twice before I say the same, lol! I seldom got cold in her age either...

And Rising Rainbow, thanks for commenting!
No, horses are not stupid.
My horse offered some really good canter work in the training today, so I am very happy. Maybe due to the extra work last week.
I'll try and blog about it separately.

And Irene, thanks!
I used to ride together with my daughter a lot, which was great fun.
Now when she is 14 I am not desired company anymore *sigh*

Pony Girl said...

I was wondering about the t-shirt and the snow, LOL! :)
I like the first picture, I have gotten some of my horse that way. He's looking for treats!
I find it interesting that you train with treats. I give my horse a lot of treats for positive reinforcement, such as in catching him (he can be challenging.) I think I read that Linda Parelli uses treats in training?

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for commenting, Pony Girl!

I have no "scientific" approach to the use of treats in training.
The reason for me starting to use it was down to a bit of curiousity I believe.
Can I make use of it?
In what way?
And it all went from there.
I believe it is with treats as with other methods; it all comes down to what horse you have, and what specific issue you have to handle if it is a useful tool or not.

I my eyes the two main advantages are:
1) the possibility to cue at a specific moment.
That is what differs it from the loose cinch/girth, long reins and the scratch and
2) the level of reaction.
You can praise or pat too at a moment but the difference in reaction to a normal praise and the "treat-praise" is large (at least on my horse).

I don't believe that my horse would have offered canter day two just for a pat, lol!