|South Jersey looking pretty|
Oh, right... you're a still a youngster. Momma chill.
Currently we have two remedial areas of focus: Behaving at the mounting block and standing on cross ties. He's always been very good about the mounting block until very recently. I think a bit of stress and the level of work we're doing has soured him a little, and I also think he's testing the boundaries as well. Previously, he's always said YES to everything, and I'm not sure he thought that he could say no, or maybe, or not right now. So I'll cut him some slack that he's maybe expanding his emotional vocabulary with me. However, standing still at the mounting block is non-negotiable. And I had enough grief with Riley regarding mounting issues that I do not need to go down that path again. These little antics quickly snowball and not only do I need him to stand at a designated mounting block, but realistically, I need to him to stand quietly near any object I chose to mount from (even the ground). The behavior manifests itself in a few ways. He'll either swing his hind end away just as I'm about to get on, or take a step or two backward when I put my foot in the stirrup. Neither are okay and both are dangerous. So I took him back to basic ground work to help reinstall the proper behavior.
And, because I was doing all of my groundwork and training with my helmet on, I thought maybe I'd hop on. After all, he wasn't tacked up (I wanted to remove the idea that he was going to be ridden from the picture). So I leaned over him a few times, got brave and swung on.
|Real talk? I'm going to need a good bareback pad.|
|A bit confused about how to steer in this thing, but at least the brakes worked|
What I learned about this exercise with Scout is that I need to pepper in some training sessions like this into our routine. It's good for our relationship and it's good for his baby brain. I think sometimes at this point in their training then tend to anticipate what's coming next and developing some anxiety about it, so it's great to mix things up a little and keep their brains working.
Our other area of remedial training focus is regarding the cross ties. We all know that OTTBs are extremely reliable for single tying, but not all take to cross ties right away. I've definitely found that cross ties in a small space definitely make the transition a little easier, and at our last barn they were in a very large space that seemed to encourage a lot of moving around on the ties. Additionally, Scout has a little bit of a quirky behavior when he's being tacked up. I don't know if he was cinched up too tight in the past or what the deal is, but when you first fasten the girth he gets a bit clumsy and sort of sways around a little. On a single tie, it's fine because he can sort of swing around like a pendulum, but in the cross ties he meets resistance and that's alarming for him. But the thing is he respects pressure when tied, that's not the issue. Once, at the old barn he started swaying around in the cross ties, he hit the end of them and started leaning back, further and further until they snapped and he fell backward and slid on his hocks. He gave himself a good scare and even though we tried several times after that, we deemed him "not reliable" on cross ties.
|Who me? I'm perfect.|
Truthfully, it doesn't matter to me if he cross ties as long as he can tie in some way. But selfishly, I'd like him to learn to cross tie because there are plenty of times that I need him to. Most recently, it's when we're going for a lesson at local farm and I have to tack him up in the aisle. Or, if I have to leave him unattended for a moment to use the bathroom. Or he pulls a shoe and I can't meet the farrier so he has to stand on cross ties like a big boy and not embarrass me.
And I know that some might say, stick him on the ties and let him figure it out, but that hasn't worked for us. I'm now in a barn with concrete aisles and I'm not willing to risk another slip and fall situation while he figures things out. So for now, I put him on the cross ties after every work, and it's going swimmingly. He'll stand for untacking, brushing, and whatever else I want to do. He gets rewarded for being a good boy and I think he's making the connection that cross ties are okay.
|Stop taking my picture, I'm being good|
So while this all may feel pretty remedial in terms of his education, I think it's important for me to take time to look at the bigger picture and see where there might be some holes in his training and target them when time allows. I think there's nothing more frustrating than letting a poor/bad behavior get away from you only to be in a situation where you really need to count on your horse behaving.
And it's paying off for us. His behavior at the mounting block is improving daily, he's reliable on cross ties in new scenarios and most recently, he stood for the farrier on cross ties with no supervision!
What sort of training holes have you guys discovered on your journeys and how do you handle fixing them?