Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tough ride with Vaquero. July 25, 2009

I headed out to front pasture to ride Vaquero, and I could tell right away that I was in for a rough day. He was acting very hot, and wanted to just boogie everywhere. Only this was the day I wanted him to have an easy ride. I tried one rein stops, and he circled several times before he would yield and stop. And then as soon as I released, he would fidget and want to largo or run again. I did this SEVERAL times (I mean like 10 times), and he never got calm and just stood there, which is all I wanted him to do. After about 10 minutes, when it was obvious he was NOT going to ride calmly, I decided to head to the round pen.

I moved him out in the round pen, thinking I would wear him down a bit and then try him again. I sent him out in the paso largo and canter. And I sent him. And I sent him. And he never got tired. Yes, he joined up. But he was still hot and touchy when I was working him on the ground in the round pen. I did some yielding exercises, and he did well.

I mounted him and worked on walking him. I just wanted to walk. He wanted to paso largo and canter. I decided it couldn't hurt to ride him hard and then try to walk him, when he was good and tired. And so we loped. And we loped. And we loped. I loped him HARD for about 10 minutes in both directions (that's 20 minutes straight), in the round pen, and he wouldn't stop. I'd never loped a horse this long. Surely, I wasn't going to kill him? Any minute he was going to stop, wasn't he? He didn't stop. When I was sure he would run himself to death, I let up and we slowly wound down to a walk.

He walked for about halfway around the round pen, and then he picked up speed and went into a paso corto. Are you kidding me? He still wasn't tired? I did a paso corto around the round pen and turned his nose in to the rail to slow him and hope he would see to slow down and WALK. Nothing doing. He would slow just enough to turn in the other direction, which I didn't want, and so I would turn him back. No matter how many times I tried to show him that the release from pressure and work was to walk, he wouldn't take it.

By this point it was dark, and I couldn't see to ride him anymore. I had ridden him for about 90 minutes, mostly at a canter the entire time. He was breathing hard, but I could tell he was recovering quickly. I surmised that the longer and faster recent trail rides had done a lot to condition him, and tiring him was NOT going to be easy.

As much as I hate to use treats with horses, I am getting desperate. I'm going to have to try to feed him carrot slices to reward him at a walk, and see if he gets it this way. If not, I'm looking for a trainer. I HAVE to be able to walk this horse reliably. We cannot just tear around the country EVERY TIME we ride.

This was the hottest he's been in a long time. I never felt unsafe and he never offered to do anything stupid, but it's very frustrating to ride this way. It's like driving a Ferrari, but the throttle is stuck on full, and there's no way to drive with any control...


Unknown said...

It seems like a challenge with gaited horses in general - they don't like to walk at all.

And now that you've got him in shape... Maybe you need to sign up for a 25 miler and really see him work!

Someone on my blog who is a very experienced trainer, recommended clicker training. You might want to think about it, too.

Trailrider said...

I've heard about the clicker training, and another lady with paso finos said it was the only way she got her pasos to walk. Apparently, they walk fine now.