Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rider's Wednesday -- Colt Kindergarten

Though winter is here, Colt Kindergarten is in full swing. So far, our lessons include:

* Walking Past Scary Objects,
* Walking on the Road,
* Dragging Garbage Cans,
* Pulling Plastic Sleds Behind Us,
* Yielding to Halter Pressure, and
* Lungeing In Various Locations, among others.

Today, we worked on Lungeing Around Distracting Objects and what Clinton Anderson calls "The Human Currycomb." (Actually, Clinton's version involves lying along the horse's back while vigorously scrubbing him on both sides with your hands. My version consisted more of hanging as far over Theo as possible and rubbing on him as much as I could. Moose Boy is just too big for me to scramble up on him.)

The wonderful thing about using Clinton's methods is that when the time comes for concentrated training, the young horse is so accustomed to having things move and flap and fling and flop around him that he really couldn't care less when he sees the human up above him. He's quite content to go about a normal training session anywhere, and with any number of distractions.

I climbed up on the picnic table and lunged Theo around it. We practiced stopping and turning, walking and trotting, backing up and coming forward. Then we practiced standing quietly while I worked on "desensitizing the air" around him. I threw a leg up on his back, rubbed my foot all over Theo's shoulders, spine, hips, and haunches. He ate it up and just loved the attention.

The moral of the story is, starting young, having the colt enjoy being with you, and teaching him that nothing you do will hurt him makes your life infinitely easier when the time comes to start actual training.

Theo is the first colt I've used Clinton's methods on from the very beginning. I have to say, I couldn't ask for an easier horse to work with -- which is good, since he weighs 2000 lbs, and he's not yet three. I couldn't be happier with the results of a solid groundwork foundation. Further bulletins as events warrant.