Mission Impossible: Outsmarting Brock

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Mission Impossible: Outsmarting Brock

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    06-24-2012, 06:58 AM
Mission Impossible: Outsmarting Brock

I've introduced Brock elsewhere on this forum but I decided a journal might be the best way to record all this as he's coming back into work next week.

A bit of background: when I got him he quickly proved to be lacking in social skills with both people and other horses. Despite that, he's a very quick learner and super clever. I couldn't leave him tied without supervision as he'd undo his rope or unclip himself. His main aims are to stand around eating and avoid work at all cost. He is also very interested in mares, territorial and aggressive toward geldings and stallions.

In saying all this, he has come on heaps since I did daily groundwork sessions with him. He now will follow me at my shoulder (he was dreadful to lead at first), if I put his headcollar on I only need to lay the rope over a fence rail and he stands til I ask him to move. Rugging, grooming and saddling are now simple rather than an extreme sport.

When I saw him on Saturday to my surprise he saw me, slowly walked up to the fence, put his muzzle near my ear and just nuzzled gently for a few seconds before stepping back. I stopped him from nudging and other rude behaviour early on but this wasn't rude or demanding, it was just a nice hello.

He's a lot more settled out in the country so I'm really looking forward to starting proper work next week. I'll start with some groundwork to make sure he remembers what he learned before then do some simple straightness work, get him forward, and then turns. His lateral mouth is fairly insensitive after a spell so I'll get him listening to that too so my one rein stop is working. Otherwise things can get a bit scary when he objects and goes for a buck...
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    07-01-2012, 02:26 AM
Ok, didn't end up riding Brock today because he wasn't there. In his place was the Evil Horse Of Doom.

Groomed him, did some groundwork (not as much as I would have liked because there wasn't a roundyard) and generally just worked on getting him to move his feet - with mixed success. Desperately need to get a driving whip again, he completely ignores any other. Also considering sending him to the trainers for a few weeks because without a small arena or a lunge yard it's very difficult to make much progress.

Leading him was hell, my friend and I took it in turns because he'd wear us out with his prancing and spinning. He's just got so much power and knows exactly how to use it. So it's like he's gone right back to where he was before I started with him, a few months ago he quietly led on a loose lead and behaved himself, after ages spent doing groundwork.

Didn't help that there were geldings showing off near him that he wanted to fight, either. He was attempting to run down fences to get at them. I was told by my last vet that they aren't able to import rigcalm or similar to Australia but that I could try a very large dose of what they give to male dogs. I'll see if I can get some and the correct dosage from the vet nearby and hopefully that'll help settle his testosterone levels.

It was such a joy being with my friend's horse Star after the Evil Horse Of Doom. Quite relaxing, even though she's a feisty, excitable young TB.
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    07-17-2012, 03:52 AM
So, heading down this weekend if I can get a lift. I've got a work plan in place (yay!):

1. Liberty work (get him focused on me) - 10 mins
2. Leading, yielding the hindquarters, backing up, changing direction (re-establish dominance) - 1 hr (I'm envisaging LOTS of arguments)
3. Lungeing (re-establish voice and hand commands) - 10 mins
4. Picking up feet - 30 mins
5. Saddling and unsaddling - 10 mins

Depending on how he goes over the next few weeks, if I see progress in an area the time spent on the exercise will shorten although I don't plan on removing any of the elements bar the lungeing once he's more responsive again. Step 5 will then include a riding element between the saddling and unsaddling bits, and that'll require a whole new work plan on its own

Please feel free to suggest anything else to do with him. I don't have access to a roundyard or enclosed arena so my groundwork exercises are limited to paddock liberty work and stuff that can be done on the end of a rope. At the moment I'm just trying to re-establish dominance, get him moving away from pressure, and work on some of his fundamental issues (like picking up feet, which he knows perfectly well how to do...and how to not do) but there's plenty to fix (I have a list somewhere!) so it'll be a long road, especially once the ridden stuff starts...
    08-26-2012, 11:37 PM
So, another update.

As you would have seen from one of my other threads, it looks like I might be selling Brock (or leasing, if I possibly can) because I'm moving to Victoria. Very exciting/scary/adventurous decision here, and it involves giving up a lot of things (family, current flat, my routine, friends, possibly my job or even my career) in the name of love, but the hardest by far is giving up Brock, even though I'd toyed with the idea of selling him before. Actually getting to the point of advertising is awful, I've written and rewritten the copy for the ad and still not had the courage to post it up.

I have a fair few nice photos of him thanks to a friend who is way better with a camera than me, but no good confo photos to use for the sale. So I went out yesterday with that in mind. Brock is usually pretty annoying to photograph still as he usually turns toward the camera, but I taught him to look ahead while I took photos (pointing and saying "look!", which I actually did more in frustration than as an actual command, and didn't at all expect him to do it, but he did - I swear he understands English...).

Anyway, here are the two I got. Ugly as anything because I'm a terrible photographer, but this was really only a practice session (the light disappeared way too quick to have enough prep/grooming time) so I hope to get better ones next time. Luckily he has lost most of his winter fluff and his beard isn't as obvious, and he's always shiny.

(Warning, fugly horse photos coming up):

Note the random left side bulge in the second photo LOL. He'd just stepped his foot underneath him and his stomach swung out. Yes, that's how big it is (although he's lost most of the fat over the ribs and the butt crease is no longer there, so I'm thinking this is mostly a grass belly now...).

Anyway, going to get more/better photos next Sunday and try a few other things: braiding his mane, having his mane lie on the wrong side as it is lovely and long and silky now, a back end shot if possible, one of him tacked up, one of him led in hand if possible, and a few ridden shots too. Might even try and get some videos, his paces are really nice and I'd like to show them off (his redeeming quality LOL). I'll also be putting him in his "nice" headcollar (black with brass buckles) for the confo shots.

Not that I'm expecting to put all these up but I'd like to be prepared with as many photos as possible because it's not very easy for me to get down there and take them.

Does anyone have any suggestions for presentation? Should I clip his little feathers or leave them? Should I oil his hooves? Anything with his mane and tail? Should I try and get a head shot with the bridle on? Any special shots? This is all pretty new to me...

    08-26-2012, 11:49 PM
I would give him a good once over and thorough groom and trim session for ad pictures.

If it were me looking for a lease, I would be instantly drawn to a horse who is groomed and presented well.

I wish you luck in finding the right leasee/owner for Mr. Brock!
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    08-27-2012, 01:10 AM
Thanks for the reply, BarrelWannabe! Yep, going to be giving him a full wash and groom! Won't be doing a clip as it is still pretty cold at this time of year and in any case I don't own clippers (or know anyone who does) but I can trim off any excess fluff. His mane sits to the left (so on the wrong side) - would I be best off braiding it?
    08-27-2012, 02:07 AM
I wouldn't clip him, but braiding would be great to show off his neck.
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    08-27-2012, 03:31 AM
Yeah, he's pretty cresty but has a thick neck - I was thinking perhaps lots of smaller dressage plaits looped and set to the side with white tape might be flattering for his...err...chunky neck. Going to trim his tail so it's got a nice end and try and get a shot without the wind bothering it. As you can see in the second photo, it's down to his heels!
    09-02-2012, 05:06 AM
Brock was awesome today, think he's trying to convince me to stay in Sydney. I spent aaaaages braiding his mane (because I'm terrible at it - I was never good at barbie dolls either, too busy playing cowboys and bandits LOL). His saddle fitted fine (yay!!) and so did the roller. I didn't have my helmet with me so we did a heap of led work over poles and obstacles which was really good prep for what I plan to do next time.

Managed some nice shots eventually so thought I'd share. The girl in them is Star's lessee, Laura - she didn't mind being used as a human model but I've tried to crop out where possible anyway to keep the focus on my fat horse.

    11-04-2012, 09:53 PM
So I had a mixed day with Brock on Saturday but I'm trying to focus on the positive bits of the day because there was some really good stuff either side of his successful bronco performance and ensuing 15 minute tantrum (he didn't like a ground pole I was using as an arena border despite having gone over them and past them countless times before...just using it as an excuse to play up tbh).

So, here's all the good stuff that happened on Saturday:

Liberty work: I had him trotting and cantering around me in well-formed circles in the paddock with no lunge line or any other guide but one hand indicating "open" to get him going in the direction I wanted and the other hand holding my dressage whip and keeping time (rather like a ballet instructor LOL). I'd then bring both arms to me and hold the whip up like a sword while saying "whoa" and he was stopping immediately on cue. I also had him backing up when I would walk toward him with my arms wide and saying "back-back-back" - backing straight for up to 10 paces.

Other ground behaviour: Stood still for saddling despite not being tied (I didn't have my halter and lead with me, oops!), very polite while led, very polite and friendly in general.

Ridden work: Nice active walk, didn't have to push him every few steps. Did some great 15 and 20m circles at walk (always a difficult one, his trot circles are generally a lot better formed than his walk circles) with good lateral bend around my inside leg and no hanging his hindquarters out - he really only needs an opening of the inside wrist and a slight drop into the inside leg and he circles beautifully. Good walk-halt transitions with very little rein and subtle seat cues. Stood patiently (but he generally does this anyway).

In saying all that...

Stuff to work on: trot-walk transitions (get them more subtle), better response for reinback, and of course NO MORE FREAKING BUCKING. Seriously, he hadn't tried it in well over a year, I'd hoped he'd got over that habit - but no... Funny, he didn't try it either on the really windy day or when the mares were in heat but give him a lovely still day with no distractions and BOOM - he explodes. ARGH.

Same lady is coming out again next weekend so I'm going to go down super early and ride him beforehand to loosen him up and get his focus so she can see his potential (now she's seen the worst of his behaviour lol).

Anyway, here's a pic from Saturday - who could think that such a cute expression could hide such evil thoughts?


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