I hesitate to write this, because I'll feel obligated to follow through if I write it down, and I don't know if I have the energy and time for working with two horses. I know from all the blogs I read that many average everyday people are working with two horses, or more, but I seem to get so tired from training one! And there aren't enough hours in the day.
It isn't fair to Dan though to just stand around. He's a healthy, nine year old appaloosa gelding and we're lucky to have him. He hates to work in the ring, and with my obsession for dressage that has discouraged me too.
I showed him at Training Level in dressage last summer because Rogo wasn't ready to show, but since then have only ridden him about five times. Trying to get him to work with me in dressage was painful, but being out on the beach with him the other night reminded me how much fun he can be on a trail ride, and that he enjoys it too.
He has a great capacity to learn, he just doesn't like arena work. One winter when I had he and Savanah home and it was too cold to ride I did clicker training with them to pass the time. He was amazing. He'd learn with only one or two repetitions. The first thing I taught them was to turn their head away and stand still if they wanted a treat. This keeps them from getting pushy for treats. He'd stand frozen like a little soldier :) and still turns his head away to ask for treats although I dropped the training and haven't done it since.
Also, I was reminded in reading a comment from allhorsestuff (address in my sidebar) today that some horses who don't like ring work can be encouraged with cavelleti and jumping. Dan likes cavelleti and while he'll never be a jumper, a friend jumped him over low cross rails a couple of times which was the only time I've ever seen him act happy, forward and excited (in a good way) in the ring. Guess just going round and round bores him. How can he not see the fascination with a perfect 20 m circle??? How is it that he doesn't feel a communion with the universe as he executes a perfectly straight center line? I don't get it, but there you have it.
I feel kind of lost though in trying to come up with a training plan and goals for Dan. I'm thinking that it would be doable to start with riding 1 to 2 times per week, and longe 1 to 2 times per week, with a minimum of 3 sessions a week. But what to do on our rides? I don't want to just get on and flop around. Maybe to start, on the trail, week one and two:
- sharpen walk, trot, canter, rein back, halt responses
- review / build leg yield ability
- turn on the forehand
- cross a gully / ditch
That should get us started. I'll have to think where to go from there if it looks like I can keep it up.
He looks thrilled to be in the arena
Eating hay at sun rise
What was I thinking with those horizontal stripes?
We're zig zagging around the ground poles instead of going over them
His first show