02-13-2014, 08:53 PM
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Ok, so I tried again today just focusing on walk and halt.
It started well. It ended... abruptly as the horse in the next arena over fell and died... She has kidney failure so it was a long time coming but was still sad and hard to watch.
I had Louie walk around and stop on various size circles, he did well, he was calm, but likes to come in to say hi when asked to halt; not that much of an issue right now. I had him face the 2nd direction (to the right) just standing there and he flipped out. He immediately started trotting before I was even ready, then cantering, I hadn't gotten my things organized and didn't have control over the line and got a minor rope burn on my hand from him running and pulling the line so quickly. This is him in anticipation then panic mode. He got so startled that he slipped and all 4 feet came right out from under him and he thunked fell on the ground. He was okay but it frustrates me because there were no cues for him to go forward, as we were walking or stopped the whole time until this happened... and that he was so scared that he completely fell out from under himself! I bet the days he was too fresh to ride as a jumper they got off and he was lunged and he could view it as a form of punishment or a place to go bonkers, instead of us working together to achieve goals.
When he does something "wrong" he gets very sensitive and aware.
I let him stand for a few minutes to recover from the fall and to know I wasn't going to punish and treated it as an accident, then asked him to do the same thing we were doing before, going to the left jut walking. He seemed extra paranoid about the stick (trotters whip with the string part rolled up so its just a long stick) so I dropped it and he calmed down. I gave him a bigger circle and picked up the whip again at which point he trotted. I had him halt and relax and walked him off the line for a minute then desensitized him to the whip by placing it all over his body and tapping it around. He was fine with the whip until he fell then was worried about it.
After having the get to know the whip session he was able to walk relaxed again and to the right as well, and even had him do a little trot more walk and more halts. Maybe by then he knew what the goal was.
I do not believe him to be more sensitive to one direction than the other, he was anticipating too much and freaked himself out.
I personally prefer to use the long whip though I do have a dressage whip and a rope on a stick, however sometimes he charges me with the smaller sticks and that is why I bought the longer one. He will gallop full force and abruptly stop a foot or less away from your face, it is basically dangerous and I need to use it for self defense. I am not sure he would do this on the line but I wouldn't put it past him, he is a playful guy, perhaps I should bring all 3 sticks out and just keep them on the ground by me and switch between them as fitting.
Thanks for the advise, just doing the walking stuff was an improvement from yesterday even with his accidental fall in the middle of it all. Always a good reminder to keep it slow.