Today we decided to play! All the horses seem pretty bored, stuck in the winter doldrums. So, we set up a little obstacle course in the indoor arena and just had fun. Christine & Tomas joined me & Rhio for a little playday.
First, we let the horses nose around on their own, getting used to all the obstacles. Then we mounted up, Rhio’s first skill test of the day. We have been working on standing still for mounting AND staying still until I ask him to walk off. This is actually a hard one for him, but the right amount of bribery works every time. Today’s very effective bribe was apple chunks. We also work on our flexibility, since he has to bend his neck all the way to my leg to get his reward. Ultimately, he should be able to do this without the reward, but we’re not that proficient yet. I’m happy to report that today he stood like the rock of Gibraltar!
Killian was our official spotter for the day, and spent some time as the center for our circle, helping us to make nice round circles (we tend toward ellipses, trapezoids, and other lesser geometrical figures when left to our own devices). Why is Killian particularly suited to this job, you may wonder. Well, he has extensive experience with round objects (balls) and can spot them at a great distance. He also excels at lounging around, which is a nice skill to have when you are the center of the circle.
Rhio & I also worked on trotting over poles, sidepassing, backing, and just generally being comfortable with the bit. This was our 4th ride with this particular bit, which is a Myler Comfort Snaffle http://www.mylerbitsusa.com/ (Red’s bit). He seems to like it, but does spend a lot of time “playing” with it or mouthing it when we aren’t actively doing something. Also, he resists working forward into the bit and much prefers minimal contact on the reins. Rhio has been going in a hackamore for the past several years since I bought him. I would like to have him go in a bit so I can do some more training with him, and also to have another option at endurance rides. He can be a real handful at the start of a ride, and I have had a few equipment malfuntions with the hackamore. So this is really an experiment to see what happens – he will probably stay in the hackamore for most of his trail work.
The boys were good, we both had nice rides, and we had fun. What more could you ask for?