Sunday, October 26, 2014

Training: A wicked smart pony and his bag of tricks!

I always knew Max was smart, but how smart? Enough to fool me that's for sure!

He has had some head tossing issues for a while, and I've been wracking my brain to figure out why and how to fix it.

I purchased a new bridle for him that was comfier. I also put him magnesium for the winter, and bought a BoT saddle pad to help with soreness in his back.

Under saddle I'd give him a forward aid whenever he tossed and at some point he would get over it. The thing is, I couldn't pin point when and what I did exactly.

Heh can I fool my hooman today!

On Saturday I had a lesson with J and I told her how we had some trouble doing a canter depart to the right on Tuesday night. She had me start on counting canter strides from 10 to 5 - transitioning to trot in between. Cue head tosses.

"Aha!" She said. "Your outside reign is giving". Whenever he tossed his head I wouldn't pull back on the reigns, BUT I was actually giving him a looser reign! In turn he learned that he could trick me into giving up on contact.

It is a lot harder for him to accept the outside reign because then he actually has to work. So she had me hold on to it firmly and ride him through it. Of course, he tossed his head up and acted like it was the most terrible thing to ever happen to him! But guess what? When he realized I wouldn't mommy him over it, he stopped!

We worked on more canter and trot and all the head tossing went away!!

Good boy deserved extra time on grass!

Today was play day so I set up a small jump course for him. It was a very blustery day and the outdoor arena was pretty intimidating with the forest trees roaring around it. There were leaves everywhere, and every gust of wind blew them up into the air and across the arena.

To be honest I wasn't sure he was going to behave on such a fritzy day, but to my biggest surprise he was really quiet at the cross-ties, and he was calm while mounting. To top it off, he truly was 100% with me the whole entire ride. Not once did he flinch at the leaves swirling around, or glance at the busy forest. Amazing!

That lesson yesterday must have made quite an imprint on him... Because like icing on the cake - not ONE head toss. Not even an indication of it!!! Hooray!!!

Teeny baby jumps for the big chicken on top of the horse.

We had a blast running around and jumping the course. He didn't seem to want to stop so we kept looping and changing the patterns as we went along. What a fantastic ending for a fantastic weekend!!!


  1. sounds like a great lesson - it's always funny (and sometimes frustrating) when trainers point out such an easy fix to a nagging problem. but hey, a solution is a solution! looks like a fun time jumpin around too :)

    1. Yeah! It was funny how we figured out the stem of one problem by trying to fix another…goes to show it's all related. I will have to brave some bigger jumps at some point…I know Max can handle it, but can I? Only one way to find out!