Monday, February 4, 2008

The "On" Switch

Even the best of horses tends to get a bit lazy once in a while. They don't want to listen, they don't want to move out, and they just turn off.

At that point, it's handy to know what your horse's "on" switch is. Whether it's a certain tone of voice, taking two trips around the arena at a dead run, or even a specific phrase, like "lets go!"

Monkey's "on" switch is quite simple. All I have to do is pick up the trailing end of my rein in my right hand.

The little fart didn't do bad today, but I wanted to work on pivots while everyone else did the class time thing, and he just wasn't wanting to do it. So I shortened my reins up, picked up the "on" switch, laid the reins over his neck and gave him leg pressure, and I'll be damned if he didn't spin around like a pro. To the right that is. He's still got issues to the left. But we side passed and pivoted and backed halfway down the arena, once he realized that yes, he really did have to do it. But that is his on switch, the signal that he recognizes that turns on the "yes mommy" portion of his brain instead of the Bart Simpson portion. He has fun when he turns on, too, he just has to try the brat side first.

It's not like I beat the horse, I can sit relaxed on his back and swing the end of that same rein around until it whoops and he doesn't twitch. That's just the signal that he understands that yes, he really does have to do what I'm asking for.

In other news, the goober was convinced that a piece of paper was going to eat him today. We were trotting on the rail and he spotted it, dropped his head to look at it, decided it was dangerous, and jumped it. Surprised me a bit, but I was ready for him the next time.

At the same time, while I was trying to get him to extend his trot a bit rather than get choppier, he decided to lope instead. A nice, rocking chair gait, only slightly faster than the horses who were actually doing the long trot. If I could get him to do that when I ask for the lope, I'll be the most comfortable rider in the class. Of course, when I tried for it later, he wouldn't give it to me.

Silly horse. We'll keep working on it.


HollyB said...

You know, with what you learn training horses and dogs, becoming a Human psychologist would be a SNAP!

mustanger said...

Holly, It would seem that way. Seems to me horses and dogs could teach a lot of people a lot of things about honesty and care and mutual respect. Also about fear. Problem is a lot of folks are too busy hiding behind something to see it. Just an observation... a friend of mine seems to be kinda that way... she's gotten to where she's scared to talk with me if she's not seeing somebody else. It's like she's scared we'll date or... ***gasp***... marry. And she's better with a horse than most guys either of us are around in this area. But all that's another story.