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Perry's Ninth Week of Training
Sunday, July 30 (Kelsy)
I rode Perry early in the day. Today I planned to trim her feet, and in honor of that I wanted to stress how important it is for horses to behave for the farrier. Perry is always good about her feet whenever Iíve trimmed them, but not all horses are. For example, recently a farrier was out to put a shoe back on one of the training horses who had pulled a front shoe. We had only had the horse here for a day when the farrier came. This horse took about 45 minutes to get one shoe on, which is an uncalled for amount of time. The horse would rip his foot away from the farrier, if that didnít work he would rear and strike. At one point the horse threw the ferrier on the ground. Horses like this are dangerous, and this behavior should never be allowed to happen! No matter the breed, age, or experience of your horse, there is no excuse for your horse not to hold their feet up safely and politely.
To start, work on your horse picking up its feet nicely when you ask instead of having to pry each foot off the ground. There are several ways to lighten the horseís feet, but Iíll just give a few ideas. One is ask the horse to pick up its foot (however you choose to ask is fine just make sure you are consistent) and if the horse doesnít respond then you can either take the toe of your boot or the hoof pick and tap the fetlock until you get the response you want. If your horse isnít good at picking up its feet then you will release the pressure (tapping) when the horse shifts its weight onto the opposite foot and build on that. Ask your normal way, annoy them with tapping if they don't respond immediately, release the tapping when they lift their foot, and be sure you are prepared to catch their hoof. Another thing to do if your horse sticks their feet in the ground is move their hindquarters around, making sure the horse isnít just skittering around but taking big deep steps under itself. Ask for a couple of steps of hindquarters and then ask for the foot again. If they do not respond, move their hindquarters again. Keep playing this game and pretty soon picking up their foot will look better than working hard by moving their hindquarters.
If your horse won't hold still or hold up its foot, you can make them move their hindquarters around instead. Then try holding the foot up again, and if they don't stand nicely move their hindquarters again. Be sure that when the horse holds still you release by placing the hoof on the ground. To the best of your ability, never let your horse rip their foot away from you. Always make sure it is your idea to place their foot on the ground. In the longrun it really does not matter how you get your horse good with his or her feet, but if you make the wrong thing hard (work or uncomfortable) and the right thing easy (release or reward) they will usually learn very quickly. And the more you work with your horseís feet the better.
Monday, July 31 (Kelsy)
Today was just a simple ride around the track. Perry and I headed out bareback and had a nice little hand gallop going for us. Every so often I would ask her to rate back to a canter or trot and then move her back up into the gallop again. She has always been easy to rate at any kind of speed. Sometimes I would throw in a stop just to check my breaks out (never a bad idea on any horse). Off of seat aids only I would get a nice gradual downward, and if I applied my rein aids also the stop would come much faster, sometimes even faster than I expected!Halfway around the track there is an elk trail where the elk cross the creek to come into the field. I hadnít been back that way since last summer so Perry and I headed down the trail to explore. Elk are about the size of Perry, meaning there really isnít much room for me as rider on the trail at all. Perry had me hanging off her Indian style and every which way, she of course didnít care at all. We did make it to the creek where Perry got a drink of water and splashed around a little. Perry and I started up the other bank to go explore the other side. Sadly the way out of the creek just led to a patch of vine maples (anyone who has ever tried deal with those knows it's better to not go there), so we headed back out to the track. The rest of the way around the track we continued to play with stopping and rating back to me. If for some reason she didnít rate back as softly or quickly as I wanted then I would increase my aids until she did come back down to me. There were only a handful of times that I had to get in her face about stopping or slowing down. Over all I would have to say she listens better than any of my ďtrainedĒ horses do :)
Tuesday, August 1 (Kelsy)
On Tuesdays I work in the afternoon so that means one or two of the horses gets ridden in the morning early before I leave. Today I grabbed my helmet and a bridle and headed for the field to get Perry. As always Perry came over to me once she saw I was out there. The first thing I noticed was that Perryís and one of the other horses flymasks were missing. So off Perry and I went to find them! I found Perryís flymask fairly quickly, which is good because the field is about five acres including our big hill and old Christmas tree patches. The other flymask posed more of a challenge to find. Perry and I weaved in and out of trees (I had to lay on her neck at times) went up and down the hill until finally we had the other flymask in a corner hidden up a tree! This whole time we would go away and come back to her friends. She never once thought about trying to run back to her friends, and didnít give me any trouble when asked to canter away from them. After we found the flymasks Perry and I went and played on the hill. We worked on walking down hills on a long rein. If she couldn't walk slowly I would stop and back her up the hill until she backed straight and softly. This is hard for horses to do physically so it doesnít take them long to figure out that walking on a long rein is much easier.
Afterwards I took Perry to the barn so I could doctor her wound and give her grain. She no longer notices when I doctor her. Normally I take the hose and a soft brush to clean off whatever yucky stuff has drained down onto her leg. Every other day I flush it out just to make sure nothing is sitting stagnate inside there. After that I spray the wound with some Schreinerís which heals it nicely and helps keep the bugs away at the same time.
Wednesday, August 2 (Kelsy)
*Sniff sniff* Perry goes to her new home tomorrow. This means that Perry had to get all cleaned up before I rode her. I figured Perry needed a fun outing seeing as it would be our last together, and she loves the river and running in the big hay fields so thatís exactly where we went! Of course Perry had to stop and play in the river and splash about before we could go out the other side. But what Perry didnít know was that hay field had been cut and now there were large round bales of hay everywhere. I thought it looked like something from Star Wars, I can only imagine what the horses must think. It took a little bit of convincing on my part for Perry to get close enough to these giant monsters for her to realize that the monsters are edible. After that they didnít bother her at all. We trotted in and out of the hay bales as fast as Perry could go. We where trying to keep up with a 16 hand horse and Perry is about 14 hands on a good day. She thought it was great fun keeping up with the big horse. She thought it was even more fun galloping after him when he was just cantering.
The hay bales are great because they give horse and rider something to focus on. Pick some bales and make a plan; circle left at the canter around bale number one, at the next bale change direction and canter lead through the trot, at the third bale stop and back four steps do hindquarters, forequarters canter from the halt to the fourth bale, etcÖ Perry and I spent a lot of time just playing silly things like that. Picking a point and knowing what you are going to do at that point helps refine your riding, because you donít let the horse take that extra step they always do when you are just riding. Another similar exercise to do is to ride to music. Know when the song changes and change to match it. When the music goes from trot to canter or canter to walk, try to do your transitions on the music. It takes some time but once you get the bugs worked it will bring a smile to your face when everything comes together, and your horse will be connected to your cues.
When we got home Ches and I realized that we hadnít taken any pictures of Perry in a long time. Perry was already sparkling clean from her bath, so she and I both dressed up and headed out with Ches and the camera to take some pictures. Because sheís a baby and isnít trained to carry a bridled up frame yet that makes getting good pictures hard, but we defiantly got some very ďPerryĒ pictures.
I have to say I will miss the little girl a lot and she was a lot of fun! She was an A+ camper and accomplished a lot in her two months.