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JR Ride 13; Wizard Ride 56: Sealed with a Kiss

March 12, 2009

Portrait of Two Hooligans

Wednesday, 3/11/2009

A girl who boarded and worked at my old barn had a habit of kissing her horse on the nose. My trainer used to playfully joke with her, “If you love your horse so much, go clean his stall!”

I have a lesson scheduled for Thursday so I wanted to spice up our routine a little bit. I rode both horses outside. The outdoor arena is recovering from rain and last week’s snow so it’s still damp and the footing is deep. I’m a firm believer that footing is a huge factor in a horse’s soundness. Difficult footing is harder to negotiate than one might think. I kept this in mind when I worked both horses tonight. They are used to the footing in their turnout and in the indoor arena- both places have firm footing with a good base. The outdoor arena has a good base but it’s significantly deeper- it feels a little like a racetrack when it’s full of moisture.

Each horse received the same training session. I worked JR first. I turned each horse out individually at liberty in the big arena so he could get used to the footing. I did a little clicker training. JR is picking up on the idea of longeing at liberty and the huge arena (100 x 200) is a great place to test his skills. We targeted a few items in the arena and worked on a trot circle around me.

When I free longed Wizard, he was more interested in running than JR was. Wizard has that indomitable heart of the Thoroughbred. While horses like JR like to buck and prance and show off, Wizard loves to take off and run. There was a very narrow chute of jump standards that was about 3 feet from the fence and Wizard ran down the entire chute on his own- I think he thought it was part of our game! I smiled at his willing disposition and apparent desire to please.

After the liberty work, I tacked up and longed each horse for about ten minutes. Then, I lightly rode as a cooldown, with a little trotting and mostly walking. JR leaned into the bit and Wizard was light in my hands as usual. Both horses were pleased to be working outdoors. I’m looking forward to summer evening rides :^)

Because the deeper footing works different muscle groups, I carefully cooled each horse with lots of walking. I hosed their legs to get all dirt and mud off of them. I checked their feet for stones. I rubbed liniment on their legs. I tied their tails up during work so they did not get full of mud. I wiped the mud off my tack. I took the saddle pads and girth home for washing. I carefully groomed all sweat marks. I conditioned their hooves. I conditioned their coats. I gave them fresh water. I fluffed up the bedding in their stalls. I opened their stall windows for more overnight ventilation. I fed them Dengie and a handful of their favorite treats. And then I gave each horse a smooch on the nose.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. oregonsunshine permalink
    March 12, 2009 1:03 am

    Your day at the barn sounds a lot like mine. Well, minus doing any real work! Casey and I worked on targeting, which he picked up super quick!

  2. oregonsunshine permalink
    March 12, 2009 10:17 am

    Hey Sarah, that second comment is spam, not left by me. Just so you know…

  3. March 12, 2009 10:55 am

    Good job!

    Your photos are gorgeous. Love the one of jumping bridleless.

    Can you add the ClickRyder blog to your blogroll?



  4. March 17, 2009 11:24 am

    Hi Judy- Thanks! I added ClickRyder. I hope to do a little more clicker work with the boys.

    OS- Glad to hear Casey picked up on targeting so quickly! Horses really seem to respond beautifully to clicker work.

  5. oregonsunshine permalink
    March 17, 2009 6:22 pm

    I didn’t use a clicker. Even as a dog trainer, I’m not so adept at it. I can explain it well and coach other people, but I’m a bit slow on the “click”. So, with Casey, I used “Good!” as my marker word. I want him to get more comfortable with my hands around his head, over his head and anywhere he might be uncomfortable.

    • March 18, 2009 1:17 am

      The clicker people always say to use the clicker for more detailed behavior marking, but I also have had very good luck with well-timed praise. Thanks for sharing your training methods- always interesting to hear about them!

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