The Honeymoon is over so I am ridin in Sticky Seat Riding Britches
Today was our ( Cato’s and mine) second *getting left behind* lesson; I don’t know how you all choose your riding clothes…. but I consider the weather, which horse I am riding, which saddle I am using, and then which ones fit best. Primarily, if I think that becoming unseated is a possibility at any time? I choose my plum colored Sticky Seat britches that I bought 2010 Mt Adams ride….that sticky seat does not allow my butt to move much in a slick saddle. Guess which britches I wore today? for the *amp it up, rev it up lesson*??? yeah….you got it… STICKY SEAT!
Today we amped up the threshholds; amped up the volume, pushed Cato’s little brain buttons….. Thinking *oh heck he’s gonna be TIRED after yesterday and will be a good boy and listen and be grateful to be working slow and with no sweat*…… Hahahahahaha, NO WAY! On the way out, he does a spooklet about bird fluttering… BIRDS fluttering. Jeez Cato…. where is your brain? Oh. Wait. it is back in the horse trailer. HE FORGOT TO BRING HIS BRAIN TO THE LESSON!!!! And, it occurred to me that our Honeymoon is OVAH! Big Time…. he knows he has to work and he is done bein’ good for goodness’ sake…. I have to RIDE him. REALLY ride him.
Us teachers know all about that Honeymoon period of teaching and learning where you can capitalize on the novelty effect for a little while until the relationship becomes REAL. This is reality, not fantasy anymore. I have to now fall back in love with the REAL Cato, and he with me.
Ok, then…… Celena taught me lateral moves, circles in 8’s, not spins, but circles until he drops his head and then make an 8 by going in the other direction. The main point was to re-engage (read, *go back to the trailer and insert your brain now, pony boy!*.) He responded really well to the lateral work on the trails, and the circles. Then Celena had me do one rein stops, laterals, and 8’s while she bombed around on the horse she was riding. IF you cannot do laterals on the trail to mix up the feet pattern, that’s when ya GOT TROUBLE!
We made Cato walk softly the whole time she did that…He got a tad amped up about being passed, but not badly….one rein stop, re-engage, learned to not allow him to walk on until he stopped and waited for his cue to walk on. He did REALLY well at that…. REALLY well. I had to remember to stay soft, not brace, and *hug him with both legs*.
Celena ran past us while we *whoaed* and ate… Cato did pretty well with that but I really always got the feeling that if I had not been *brain on hands on legs on* with him? Things might have gone a tad awry right then.
The main lesson in all of the work today was *good behavior always with the lightest possible response when behavior is bad; don’t make the correction any BIGGER than it HAS to be*. Cato behaves fairly well until……….
[This is a bit like that *intermittent car problem*; you know, when you take the car in and you say to the mechanic, * it does this when I do that* but the mechanic cannot replicate what you are saying the car does…… ya know? the mechanic has to be able to *see and feel* the problem themselves*]
and THEN?????????? yeah…. the* OMG they disappeared* part of the lesson. Celena would pass us/bombing past us going fast and YELLING :-)…. and keep on agoin’ and go HIDE behind a tree ( because I told her of his whack behavior– going sideways on the trail– yesterday when Sue got outa sight). We played that several times and he actually let loose with a small pop sideways and a *snake of the neck*. Which, actually, is a GOOD thing under these controlled circumstances….. so Celena can *see* what he does ( really she had to reply on me telling her cuz she really was up the trail hidin’). Cato lost it a bit… small snaky neck pop up…. lateral and circle did NOT work, or they did not work as well as they had been…. So, we did the turn around, and TROT away. Hahahaha, he SO did NOT want to go the other way. Much resistance….So, there I was, wide hands, legs on– hugging… set to make him go forward and ready for him to *squirt out to one side or another*. READY…..he did not WANT to go forward, but I insisted and after two or three little whiny, * I don’ wanna*’s ( think 6 year old boy whining at decibel 11 * I DON’ WANNA GO THAT WAY I WANNA GO THAT WAY, THE WAY THE BLACK HORSIE AND CRAZY BLONDE WOMAN THAT WAS YELLIN WENT*….. I corrected him twice, once one direction and then the other across the trail, and then we lined out in a lovely trot away….( like he forgot what he was upset about??? hmmmm) we did that several times and then rewarded him with getting to lead…. he was still a bit amped up, on the way back to the barn and it took me some laterals, flexions of his neck, my legs on to get him to relax and move out….and eat and relax…..
This was good because we were able to push Cato over his tolerance threshhold and find out where he really loses it and it is now seeming to be when that horse in front goes outa sight. Boom…. goes the brain, out his ears. We may find other places because next time? amping it up again and see what happens…..
Again, I cannot stress this enough—- Celena is teaching me that the the checks and corrections are NOT Punishments– they are a check and correction because you want the horse to LOVE his job, yeah, duh…. but, if you make it all a big deal, and make it sadness-causing, the horse will know he is gonna get punished and react against that ahead of time and learn to hate being ridden ( no no no not that!). Celena kept telling me to be as soft as possible, do the correction, reward him, lift, support, correct using many many MANY different tools; as many as you have in your tool box…. when ones does not work, use a different one… Because,she says, if you overuse a tool, the horse can easily turn the corrective action into an excuse for more bad behavior. Huh…. interesting.
My goal is to have fun riding Cato, but ensure that he does not become unsafe when he thinks he has been abandoned on the trail. Celena said as we finished, * I count that as a success, you were successful in defusing his amped up behavior, and Cato needs this a lot, she emphasized….*he needs someone to realize what is happening when he amps up a small bit, correct the smallest amping up softly so he does not escalate*… Sounds a bit like the Poker tell I was talking about earlier….
Much to think about…. much to practice…. Cato is looking good and eating well he gets some time off of being ridden to think about it all and a Massage and stretches. He worked hard today TOO! Good Boy, Smart Boy Cato….!
Check out the garmin player link…. you can see the jigs and corrections and back forth parts of the lesson on the Griffinwood trails!