Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Outside Experience

The weather was really nice about two weeks ago so I decided to ride Phil in the outdoor arena. We had been working in the indoor arena on connection, accepting the half-halt, and varying stride length at the trot. So I thought that working in the outdoor arena, which is bigger, would give us an opportunity to get some really long straight lines for our trot lengthenings.

It didn’t work out as well as I’d planned.

Phil was SUPER nervous outside. He’s not particularly spooky, or fearful, of “things”, like the jumps that were in the arena, or the trees next to the arena blowing in the wind. He was just nervous that something bad would happen. What that "something" was I have no idea. I’d like to say it was excitement, but I really don’t think so. I’ve felt excitement on Kaswyn, and this wasn’t it.

So instead of getting some nice time outside and continuing to work on what we had been doing, we went back to the beginning of just trying to get a connection. He was so distracted by every little thing – like if someone walked out of the barn with their horse to graze, or turnout, he jerked his head up and almost stopped. Then he over-reacted when I sent him forward and tried to focus him. The cat walking by, or the dog, or a bird, completely short circuited his brain. I swear it’s the worst he’s been as far as focusing goes.

Even though we had to go backwards in some of the training, all of the other work that we had been doing helped. Like the previous half-halt work and, believe it or not, the lengthening work were things I used to help me get his attention back. When Phil would get a little behind my leg I was able to send him across the diagonal or the long side and get more in front of my leg, and that was nice. But I still felt that we went backwards a little bit in our training, which is disappointing.

At the same time, I think it was good on some level for us to work outside. We were able to go out there about six times over the course of two weeks. It gave me an opportunity to experience how Phil would be at an outside show (when that eventually happens), and it gave me a chance to prove to him that nothing bad is going to happen if we are outside. I think we made some progress on that front, but time will tell on that.

I have a lesson scheduled next Monday. My trainer is going to ride Phil! I’m very excited to see how that goes. Expect video on that!

1 comment:

Val said...

I am glad that you are working with him in the outdoors. I almost cannot imagine a horse that is afraid of riding outside. It makes me kind of sad. Thankfully, he has you to rely on as he learns all of these new things.

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