Baby Steps

Work: AM heat therapy & handwalk/PM groom & groundwork – weave cones, reverse, 360o turn, and crossrail.
Evaluation: The long walk from yesterday but by ourselves. He led me up the hill but didn’t charge and was almost dogging it on the easy sections. In the ring, he did 90%, including the walk back to the barn, on a loose rope. At the weave cones, I could see the moment he started to follow me – I was walking backwards – instead of being hauled around by his nose. The afternoon would have gone even better if I hadn’t kept zapping him with static electricity shocks. He seems to take them more personally than the mare does. Afterward, he stood quietly while I removed the halter. Whereupon, he pealed out of the barn bucking, kicking, and zinging around the pasture. House rules say a horse must be respectful when under tack but free time is his/her own. So, no harm, no foul.
Rodney has taken to meeting me at the grooming area when it is time for his heat sessions. I find this cute.

Despite my whining, I do recognize Rodney’s many redeeming features. In addition to having talent and looks, he’s as sweet as can be. He adores being loved on and has a bottomless need for affection. He wants to do his job, to the point that he stresses if thinks he might not understand the lesson. [Previous Horse would just tell me to talk to the hoof.] While he may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, it is the rider’s responsibility to explaining things in a way that is understandable to the horse; not the horse’s responsibility to understand the rider. Despite his come-aparts, he is not a hot horse. Under all that bluster is a lazy horse needing to be pushed forward, which is good for a rider with an electric seat. The dressage instructor in front of whom I tried Rodney was amazed that I got so much out of him without carrying/wearing standard dressage aids.

The problem is that when he panics, he does it so quickly and completely that he goes to a place where he is unreachable. We are getting to the point that we recognize the signs but have not learned how to head off or defuse the attacks.

What is your horse’s best/worst feature?

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