Sunday, October 25, 2009

Training visit!

I went to visit Boomer in Missouri today! It started pouring down rain when I was halfway there and didn't stop until I was almost home. The trainer and I talked for about an hour while Boomer was in his stall. He was happy, looked healthy, and didn't appear to have lost any weight. It was really nice to see him and get to brush and pet him. He was friendly and didn't act like a jerk at all. I wasn't sure how being in training in a new environment would affect his attitude and it seems to have served him well! We talked about the training halter she has been using for his 'pulling back' issue. You can find it be searching for "be nice" on She put it on him and showed me how he responded to it. He was actually very forward and responded quickly to pressure. She told me a great story about how he reacted the first time he wore it. She said that after he broke the lead ropes she put it on him and he fought like crazy. He pulled until he started to lather up and he had that halter pulled about as tight as it could squeeze. She said that he actually laid down when he got tired of pulling back. He just got down and flopped over on his side. She said that she got behind him and gave him a kick in the rump and he got up, jumped forward, pulled back, jumped forward, then stood still. She said that after that she tried jumping around him, waving feed sacks, etc and he didn't move a foot after that. I couldn't believe what a temper tantrum he threw! I wish I could have seen that! Hopefully he will learn his lesson on that one!

Kelly and I also talked about how he was doing on the trail as well. She said that she really enjoys riding him and that he has great gaits. She is having good results with getting him to slow down and go down hill carefully. He is also doing well with going over logs and through water. The water crossings were hard for him at first, but he is doing better. She said that the first time she took him out on a certain trail that heads from the road where he had to step across a small ditch he refused and didn't want to cross. She said that she gave him a good 'over under' with the end of the reins pretty hard and he jumped straight up and leapt forward into the canter across the field. She said that she brought him back and made him cross it about ten more times. Ever since that, she just has to raise her hand a little and he goes forward for her. So, she thinks he is just testing and being a 'teenager' and seeing what he can get away with. He knows what he is supposed to do and he has been getting away with doing less.

Pretty much, it seems like she just hauls off and gives him what for as soon as he steps out of line and that pretty much takes care of the problem. Where I had been much more timid and trying to avoid pissing him off and escalating the situation. I'm glad that she is so much braver than I am and can get him right where he needs it.

I am going to go out and ride with her on Thursday and she wants to work with me on being much more aggressive and confident with him. She thinks that I just need to learn some new ways of riding him and that I shouldn't have much more trouble with him. We talked a little about how I am not sure when I should let his behavior fly and when (and how aggressively) I should correct him. I really think this has been a great opportunity and I am really happy to get some feedback on Boomer as well as see someone else interact with him.

On another note, I am watching the live video feed of Arabian US Nationals and I plan on driving down to visit on Tuesday.


Sally said...

Wow. Pulled back and fought until he just laid down. Boomers battle rages on - my guess is he won't win and neither will you.

Heather said...

I have the opposite feeling about the situation. I really think we are both getting good guidance and that we will both come out 'winners' in the long run.

Sally said...

The Tao of Equus
-Linda Kohanov
Pages 8-10

Heather said...

I've never read it, the reviews seem interesting. Is it a philosophy/spiritual type book?

Sally said...

Spiritual maybe? It simply challenges traditional ideas on human/horse relationships. I actually never finished it, but those pages absolutely stuck in my head.
Thank you for not deleting my comment, words - for me - never come out the actual way I intend. I was just shocked that Boomer was forced to endure that type of treatment.

Heather said...

I don't really feel right about censoring other peoples comments. I feel that you should be able to voice how you feel about what I write.

However, I do think that it is difficult for you to really be able to make a sound judgement without fully knowing the situation.

The only one 'subjecting' him to that situation was himself. He had to figure out the hard way that pulling back/fighting was not the answer.

Sally said...

I suppose it does sound like judgement, quite the opposite.

Shanster said...

Hey Heather! I missed a lot! I'm glad you are happy with your trainer. She says exactly what I heard with Rosso.

And in retrospect I can see where things escalated because I hesitated or wasn't sure what to do... so he thought that his tantrums or naughtiness were being rewarded and then ... well... here we are!

And he isn't "bad" - neither is Boomer. Hard to put it all in words what I'm trying to say!

Sounds like his tantrum was scary but he wasn't hurt and he wasn't in a dangerous situation. I was lucky that Rosso's pulling back wasn't as ingrained.

Anthony used a tie that feeds line out when they pull back and he had a lot of line... Rosso had to stand tied all day long...

He stood tied when there were cattle being worked, when other horses were being trained, in good weather and in bad...

he stopped the pulling back pretty quick and stands tied now very well.

Course now I have a fear thing going on in my head... BUT before that, when watching Anthony work Rosso, when Rosso spooked - Anthony asked him to go forward toward the thing.. and as long as Anthony remained calm, confident... even when he had to push Rosso, Rosso responded to "the boss" and it never did escalate like I was so sure it would.

Watching my trainer Rex, it's about being fair and being confident and not letting them get away with an inch of naughty behavior. Yes they can be scared and yes they can show their feelings but they must do it in an acceptable way and still defer to the boss.

It's all so interesting isn't it?? Love watching and discussing... there is SO much to say and see... sounds like he is on the right track! Hooray!

Heather said...

Boomer is doing very well. I think that he really likes the trainer. He whinnied at her as she walked out to the barn when I was there to visit. I think that he really needs a strong leader and someone to let him know who is boss. She is definitely that for him. I think that once I can start being more aggressive with him it will really help us.

I'm sorry that Rosso has shaken you up. Unfortunately, once that fear takes hold, it is hard to let go. I am seeing that in myself when I ride another horse who is totally broke. Though, having another, more broke, horse to ride is also building my confidence back up. I hope Sera can do that for you.

Heather said...

We used a tie that sounds like what you have, a blocker tie ring. It worked pretty well, but we had to use a huge length of rope and the rope couldn't have a knot at the end. He would pull back until he was free or pull back to the end of the rope, hit the knot, keep pulling, break free, and flip over. We used the tie ring with moderate success but he always knew when he was tied for real and if did not fix the problem by any means. Same with all of the other things we tried.
I think Boomer was at the point that the only fix was to let him realize that he CAN'T get free just by throwing a fit. He FINALLY seems to have learned.

Shanster said...

Yes, sounds like it and I'm glad she worked on him with that situation cuz having a horse you can't tie is awkward! We had an old lady come to live with us for some years... she was late 20's and live to early 30's... she was a confirmed puller and at that age what is the point of trying to fix it? We just had to be aware and remember to hold her vs. tie her for stuff...

No kidding with the fear thing! Seems like for every 4 or 5 rides I have on Sera, I can get on Rosso once. Figure I'll get over it but it's gonna take a while. It's such a weird feeling and I've never experienced it before. Bizzare!

Like I said, I'se gots all the time in the world to work on him and me - so what if he's 30 and I'm 60 by the time we finally have fun together? heh heh heh

(k - lets all hope it doesn't go on that long... grin)