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Wizard Ride #19: On to Bigger and Better

December 8, 2008

Deconstructive Study of a Horse Eyeball

12/8/08: I feel more comfortable and Wizard feels more comfortable. We’ve finally climbed past that pesky plateau and we’re ready for bigger and better! How do I know? Wizard told me so.

We started with in-hand ground work. I led him from the left and right sides to continue our efforts to acclimate Wizard to handling on the right side. We did a little clicker training and I asked for his “head down” behavior and we did a little targeting. “Head down” is becoming a solid behavior after three good sessions. We are increasing the length of time that he lowers his head and Wizard is very relaxed and willing- I think it helps that he naturally is fairly low-headed. We also walked over ground poles in order to work on Wizard’s coordination and begin the long process of strengthening his back.

As you can see in the photo, Wizard’s back is long:

Wizard Right Side

We need to keep it flexible and strong.

We were in the arena with Cathy and Miss Tuesday, another green but sweet Thoroughbred. Both horses seemed pleased to have the company.

After about 15 minutes of ground work, I mounted up and we began our short but highly successful ride. I rode for about 10 or 15 minutes, all at a walk. We started with big circles at the end of the arena near the gate. Then I increased the size of the circle and asked Wizard to step over a few ground poles. He walked over them like a champ. We changed direction and I continued to work on keeping my posture relaxed and moving with Wizard’s back. Wizard appreciated it, and did not bunch up, break into a jog, or get tense a single time for the entire ride. This was a first for us and I’m SO proud. I could feel that he was walking the same way that he walks in hand: a nice, big, relaxed walk.

At the end of the ride, I walked Wizard to the far end of the arena, facing away from the gate. We stood for a good minute and I dismounted and praised him profusely.

Then I did a quick check of his longeing abilities. I try to change my routine whenever possible to keep things fresh. Sometimes we don’t longe at all, sometimes we longe first, sometimes last. Since our revelation about twirling the whip to keep him going (see Session #18), Wizard is FAR better on the longe. I’ve begun working on voice commands for walk, trot, and halt.

After about 5-10 minutes on the longe at a trot, I untacked Wizard and turned him loose in the arena to try a few minutes of free longeing. I expected him to a) gravitate toward the gate or b) fly around like a ninny. He did neither. When I asked him to go forward, he longed two rotations around me in a perfect circle as if he was still attached to the longe line! I asked him to change directions and to use the entire arena and I got to see a really fluid, happy, big trot. I also saw his canter, which is not the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. As he becomes more balanced, his canter will improve. His trot looks pretty since he has a nice hind end and his joints seem quite flexible. He has a bit too much hock action in my opinion and I’ll be interested to see if his “chicken hocks” go away as he learns how to balance himself.

When we were done, I asked him to halt and he responded immediately- he was so good! I brought him back into the barn, gave him a quick grooming and a little back massage, filled his bucket with warm water, put ThrushBuster on his feet, and put him to bed.

I left the barn with a really good feeling. Wizard confirmed that he is happy and comfortable with everything I ask him to do. I do my best to listen to anything that might be bothering him, but on Monday night, nothing bothered him at all. He is starting to come out of his shell and I’m beginning to see more of his personality. Now it’s time to create a few new plans under saddle and on the ground. Lately, I spend more time daydreaming about riding than I do in the saddle!

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 10, 2008 12:47 pm

    HA ha, chicken hocks. That’s exactly what they look like too! Although IMO, too much hock actions beats not enough hock action any day. 😉

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