Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The ways of horse psychology

If you ever had a horse with unsoundness issues you will know what I mean: where does the discomfort ends and a resistant behaviour starts?
I did a little experiment with Kingsley yesterday. I sat on him on the stable yard to ride him out to the arena and check if he would nap. He certainly did. He stopped a couple of times on the drive way and I could feel him preparing to lighten the front so he can hop up. We had a bit of conversation about it and he proceeded OK ish to the arena. There I dismounted and long-reined him into the woods with another horse coming with us, but behind us, for company. He was absolutely fine and striding out everywhere I told him too. Once we were about 10 minutes away from the yard I got on him again and he led the way home with no problem whatsoever.
From this experience I can pretty much say he was napping due to learnt behaviour and that's no good. However, there could still be some discomfort in his front feet as he definitely isn't 100% sound.
I will be repeating this type of fun and games with him so he doesn't have the opportunity to misbehave. Once (when/if) he is sound I will take him out on his own ridden both away and back and see how we go then.
It's interesting to me that he will follow me absolutely anywhere in-hand, no questions asked, so there isn't so much a trust issue. Ridden, he is definitely more worried and unsure.
On a good note, he would make a lovely hacking horse, he doesn't care about uneven ground, odd shaped tree stumps, dogs barking etc, just walks on in this big, ground covering walk of his :)

Frankie was a changed horse yesterday. We had arena company though so that could have contributed to the calmness he showed. He was very focused on me listening to every command, kept his trot slow even when he was obviously worried about things from time to time.
He is the first horse I've dealt with that looks literally like a scared dog when he spooks. His head goes up, all rigid, his body curves with back up and the tail goes right underneath him, bottom low. He contained himself very well yesterday and relaxed a bit about me leaning over the saddle too.
There is still a lot of tension in him so we will continue playing until he starts enjoying it all a little more. I was very tempted to sit on him yesterday but don't want to spoil all the good work so far. Have a feeling that if he scares himself now we will be back to the drawing board again.

Right, back to polishing the content for the Academy's website! Having seen the first pages designed I can't wait for it all to go live, it all looks excellent (and I will be able to have a good night sleep too!).
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