Saturday, September 19, 2015

Keep It Simple Stupid

My old boss used to say this to me (I added the stupid part) all the time. I apparently need to remember this with my pony. Ever since we had the oops moment when I sprained my ankle Stinker has gotten more and more antsy about me getting on. I was letting it slide until my ankle could handle the drilling.

To give a picture of where we were at (I'm ashamed it got this bad) I needed someone to hold them and one of the last times my helper almost got run over. So Stinker needed a boot camp ASAP. He got over the shot reaction but I wasn't quite ready to actually ride him. Long story short I don't want to risk him associating pain with work so I play on the safe side of things. Also the side that I gave the shot on is the side he doesn't like to stretch to begin with.

I lunged him and he looked good. Very relaxed going to the right with crisp transitions. The left was more braced but that is normal. It is his tougher side since he likes to brace through the shoulder. I deemed him well enough to have a mounting boot camp. Or as I like to call it have a cookie. 

Stinker does not respond well to anything negative. He thinks too much and gets anxious and basically shuts down, so positive reinforcement is the best method. In general I prefer to use positive reinforcement to teach. So we started things by...keeping simple.

First I gathered up the reins and stood by his shoulder. He promptly tensed up and started wiggling around. I followed and talked to him until he stopped moving. When he stood for 5ish seconds he got a cookie. I released the reins walked him back to the initial spot and repeated. Once he was ok with this I added in wiggling the stirrup and pulling on the saddle. When he stood he got a cookie. Then I added putting my foot in the stirrup. This one required some hopping but he is smart and figured things out.

Next I moved on to mounting. I did this from the ground which isn't my preference but it was better than trying to add in the mounting block today. That will be saved for another day. When he halted he got a cookie. Every time I repeated this he got better. We even managed to mount walk off and halt to dismount. This may not seem like it is a big deal but typically we got from halt to prance and miss the walk all together.

All in all this didn't take much time and about 20 treats. I need to remember all of this in the future and to get pants with big pockets. I need to keep thing simple and make rewards quite clear because when he is being rewarded he isn't as tense. Keep it simple stupid...


  1. ugh problems at the mounting block are SO frustrating - glad you were able to make some progress! when i started with my mare there was literally no guarantee that i'd be able to actually mount on any given day.... i worked with a different horse too who would rear when you got on - definitely not cool. found that we had the most success working on it after a ride vs before, since she would usually be quieter and more relaxed. so after every ride i'd dismount then get back on again once or twice. annoying problems, ugh

    1. The worst part about it, is I created the problem. At least I know how to fix it and he is smart and willing. It should go fairly quickly.