I had the brilliant idea of exercising two horses today. Why not use Woody to pony Joey? What could go wrong? Horses naturally pony, don't they?
Wrong. Bad idea. So I get another adventure out of it.
I trailer to a friend's place, with a nice arena. I had the place to myself. Which also meant if I got hurt, no one would be there to call EMS. Alex's injury was fresh on my mind.
I used Woody, my steady Eddie. I ponied Joey to the arena and we walked around. So far so good.
I increased to a trot. Not so good. Joey stopped, would not go forward, and the lead rope had no choice but to leave my hand, quickly. He immediately started eating grass when free of my grasp. Great...Now he's been rewarded for getting loose. This is going to have to be undone. The lesson is going badly.
I dismount. Woody stays ground tied. Thank God at least I have one steady horse during this adventure. I pick up Joey's lead line and start him longeing. Like hell I'm letting him think he can escape me and eat grass!
I try again. Walking is fine. I put Woody in a trot, and Joey doesn't keep up. Despite a half dally, Joey's strength and mass is easily able to escape my grasp. More grass eating until I can catch up with him from the ground. This is not going to work. Think! More longeing for respect. Get his feet moving. He's good and sweaty now.
I start walking on ground with him on lead line; then I jog. He shows resistance. IMMEDIATE longeing! Jog him out as he's trotting from the longeing. Now, it's working. He's trotting behind me. More work transitioning from walk to trot as I lead him. I'm not in shape for this. I won't be able to do this for long.
Mount up again and try again. Maybe he's getting the idea that the release is to move forward. Better results. He's trotting while ponied. But he stops after a bit, and he's almost escaped me. But I'm circling now with Woody when I feel him start to balk.
Another dismount and more longeing for respect. But I'm getting steamed, probably not a good thing. I leave him tied. He paws and tries to reach grass, but I've tied him well, so he's just going to have to stand there.
Ride Woody and work on lead departures and cantering. Need some relief from this 4 year old. Woody is a dream.
Try again with Joey, and slightly more success. OK. End on a good note. Walks back ponied to trailer, where he loads VERY well. The longeing has helped, I suppose.
Arrive home. Leave Woody saddled and tied. Take Joey to round pen and work on trot and canter, since he hadn't cantered today up to this point. He transitions very well. Not even a cow kick. Again, the longeing for respect has worked to take a lot of the fresh off. Make Joey do more right leads than left. He has to be corrected for wanting to take the left lead when circling right a few times, but mostly picks up the right lead well. Stays in gait very well. Again, that's the longeing, I think, paying off. Working off my verbal cues. No change in energy really required. He is remembering.
Good join up. Work on walk and trot from ground as I lead him back to barn. He's still a little slow to pick this up.
Shower, then bed. I'll try again tomorrow. Lots to think about tonight. Already googling how to train a horse to pony. Have new ideas from Clinton Anderson. I think I'll have more success tomorrow.
4 year old horses...they really have a lot to teach me.