Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boot Camp Preview!

Boomer is officially signed up for boot camp starting the second week of June.  I'm VERY excited!  
Unfortunately, he wasn't on his best behavior on Sunday and he got a preview of what is coming...
This is a map of the property where we keep Boomer:
You will be referring back to this map during this post.

We like to walk or ride the loop from the barn around the pond and back.  This loop is about a mile, if not a little over.  There are two ways to get to the pond.  One goes between two pastures straight west and one goes north to the property line and then west to the northernmost point on the pond.  The alleyway between the two pastures can be seen if you look for a solitary tree in the middle of the screen.
Sunday, we chose the northern route as the gates between the pastures were open and blocking us from accessing the alley between them.
I should back up.  As we drove up to the barn (John, P, Charley, and myself), John asked if I wanted to ride.  I answered that I was wearing sandals and couldn't.  He asked if I was scared.  I answered honestly- Yes.  He asked if I was scared of riding or just tacking up.  I answered honestly- just tacking up.  He suggested that I ride bareback.

So, I put on Boomer's bridle and we walked around the east half of the property before heading to the pond.  Boomer was being a dream.  He was great for the whole walk around the property, great when we left the property line, great around the pond.  We got to the far west point on the pond and Boomer startled at some cows on the adjoining property.  I decided to hop off, just in case.  The dam we ride on around the pond is about 8 feet wide and has a pond on one side and a 20 foot drop off to a barbed wire fence on the other side.  So, I jump off and we hang out until Boomer is done cow watching.  I hand walked him about 50 ft to a picnic table and attempted to remount.  He stepped to the side.  This went on for quite some time.  He was clearly DONE riding and was throwing quite the fit.  I started backing him and moving him side to side.  Eventually he was much more pleasant and stood for me to mount only to toss his head and act like a twit as soon as we started walking.  I hopped off and backed him quite a ways down the hill along the south side of the pond.  (see the SW corner of the picture- the open area is a gently sloping hill where there are frequently jumps set up)  I backed him down and back about halfway across the open area and back to the picnic table.  We tried again and he was much more reasonable.  Suddenly, I realized what was going on.  We were headed BACK TO THE BARN.  We walked nicely through the small open jump area, through the stand of trees and were just coming along the east edge of the pond, headed north when Boomer started getting light up front, tossing his head, and trying to grab the bit and pull towards home.  Aw, hell no.  I was frustrated because I just wanted a nice calm, relaxing ride.  The training is supposed to be done by a trainer.  I just want to enjoy my horse.  So, I hopped off and started backing Boomer.  And we backed.  We backed north along the pond the continued east until we got to the dirt road and backed north along that for a ways.  I'd say we backed about a quarter mile.  Boomer was sweating and ready to quit.  I hopped back on him and he stood quietly while John helped hoist me up.  We headed back north for about 200 feet until we got to the alley between the two pastures where we USUALLY head home.  I bet you can guess what happened.  Boomer wanted to go up the alley.  So, I got off and backed him some more. We backed along the dirt road north to the property line. We backed through ruts and mud.  We backed through a gate.  We backed around the corner and headed east.  We backed up a hill.  We backed until we were halfway between the pond and home and then I got back on.  Boomer walked off on a loose rein.  He stopped quietly when I asked and hesitated before walking when I asked.  We walked back to the bard and I walked him around the farm on a loose rein before I hopped off for good.

Here are some visual aids:

 He had been just side stepping, but here he went backwards.  Which is what gave me the idea to make backwards a punishment.  

This is how things started.  He kept side stepping away from the table, so I got down to move him over and he would resist and swing his hind end into me.  Right as John stopped filming, I turned him around and started backing him down the hill and then back up to try again.  

temporary success!

This was the last of the pictures, but only the beginning of the struggle.

In all, I think he backed about 1/3 of a mile.  I am VERY curious to see how the next ride goes.  I'm pretty sure Boomer is going to be sore for a day or two.  That was a lot of work for a fat, out of shape pony!  But, in all fairness, he brought it on himself.  I think that it was a good day overall.  While I was a bit disappointed in the turn the ride took, I am very satisfied that I did not let Boomer win.  I really think that we are at a critical point right now where he must not win.  Oh, and by fat, I mean that he has a cresty neck, fat deposits around his tail, and a gully down his back... 

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