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Wizard Session 123: Slow as Molasses in January

January 12, 2010

Wizard

Tuesday, 1/12/10

I did a session of ground schooling with Wizard today, starting with long line work and followed by longeing. I tacked him up in a surcingle and his regular riding bridle (Happy Mouth mullen D bit). I warmed him up on the long lines, practicing with me walking a little further away than in previous sessions. Wizard is pretty easy to long line when I’m on his left side but he’s rather squirrelly when I walk on his right side, just like when I longe him to the right. We walked to the left first in order to get him moving forward. Then, I halted him and asked him to yield to rein pressure and turn his head, first on the right, then the left. Then, I switched sides to his right. He began to spin his hind end away from me, but I gently asked him to bend his neck again to each side. I think it worked to keep him centered and relaxed. We then walked to the left (counter-clockwise) but with me on his right (I was walking along the wall). I usually long line him to the right with me on his right.

There were a few traffic cones in the arena so we practiced keeping him from crowding me by walking with the cone between me and him. He knocked one over but was able to navigate the rest of them. We also walked over a few ground poles. Forward and straight, forward and straight.

I fastened side reins on the loosest hole possible in order to mimic light rein contact. When his head was relaxed, there was no pressure on his mouth at all. I put the side reins on to work on relaxation rather than for any gymnastic purposes. To the left, he longed beautifully, stretching down and relaxing his topline. To the right, he was rushy and tense, breaking into a fast canter several times and propping/spinning. Gently, persistently, I got him to move out at a trot after a few tries. He trotted about 10 times in each direction- I was not longeing for physical exercise but for mental exercise. By the time we were done, he was a little sweaty, which is interesting because he can play/run at liberty without breaking a sweat. The long lining and longeing was clearly more stressful and challenging than when he free longes, even though he canters and gallops at liberty and only walked and trotted for in-hand work.

I have a bucket of Equi-Pride and I’m trying to get Wizard to eat it without thinking it is poison. The first time, I added about an ounce to his rice bran mash and he refused to eat it. Now I’m being sneakier, adding a good serving of molasses and only putting a spoonful or two of Equi-Pride into the rice bran. I’ve learned that picky eaters like Wizard (Alibar was the same) can learn to eat new things but the new things must be introduced gradually. He used to hate rice bran and now he nickers for it. He hears the jar lid on the molasses and I can feel his stare as I prepare his treat.

Speaking of molasses, you know that saying about being “as slow as molasses in January”? Spend a little time in a barn with a jar of molasses and you’ll understand why people say it.

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