Saturday, March 7, 2015

Home Grown Obstacles

Boy, who else is looking forward to warm weather?  ME ME ME!!!

I have not managed to ride Stella since our mini clinic at Eds barn but I have been doing lots of groundwork with her.  I realized at Eds that I could have gotten baby Al through any of the obstacles, he's really good with his groundwork and respectful of me.

So why havn't I done any of that with Stella? Unnn uhhhh.  She's not awful on the ground, she lunges, she leads, but she's a bit of an every horse for herself kind of horse in some situations.

So all this week I've set up different obstacles in the arena at home for Stella to work between, around, and over.  Our groundwork started before we even entered the arena, because we couldn't enter the arena!  Stella had a meltdown at the door when she realized her nice empty arena was full of STUFF!!!!  ACK!!!  Then she tried to exit the arena over the top of me.  This did not end well for her.

She balked, she snorted, she pranced, she flattened me.  She got an immediate and strong lesson in "do not run the person over!"

This is one of our "go over this" obstacles.  Small enough to walk over, I had multiple versions of this each day we worked.  Good preparation for jumping strange things, by Friday she snorted once and then went over and she even notched down and started walking over this.  She was also brave enough to eat all my flowers.  Grumble.

Here is a "get on this" obstacle.  She's actually really good at this type of obstacle for some reason.  She has no problem walking on, eating, pawing, or killing this or the tarp.

Here is a "go between this" or a "squeeze" obstacle.  This was much more of a problem in each of its versions.  I had to send her between this and the wall, not lead her through it.  By Friday she was slow trotting through it, couldn't quite manage to get her to walk through it.  This is really good practice for doorways, trailer loading, going between an announcer's booth and the rail, etc.

I did an experiment and got baby Al out fresh out of his stall in his nylon halter and sent him through this, no warm up, went straight for it, no problemo.  He sniffed it once, then walked right through, showing his experience with groundwork, his obedience, and his trust.

She made a lot of progress by the end of the week, although she was still giving me some lip, and was still unsure of the safety of what I was asking her to do, she was much more respectful of my request to do it anyway.  As she does more things I hope that she will not only respect my authority, but trust that I'm not going to make her do anything dangerous.


  1. those are all great ideas and you are smart to do them with her

  2. I forget that all the other horses at the barn are long used to random things popping up in the arena and I hope that she eventually becomes bored by all of it!


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