Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yes, We Have No Ya-ya's

I could tell from Stormkite’s calm acceptance of the longeing process that he was ready for a saddle.  So yesterday, even though I hadn’t worked him in a few days, it was time to move him forward.  

"I got this."
I longed him for a few minutes, then had to put him away when we were visited by a local gardener, seeking manure (he returns the favor later in the year with some really good sauerkraut!).  After using the tractor to turn the manure pile over for him to get the good stuff, I collected Stormkite and started longeing again.

All good.  He didn’t want to work much because the footing was sloppy, so I didn’t push it and led him over to the saddle.  He allowed the pad to go on his back without much notice.  Then I hung the girth over his withers and led him around, letting its buckles jingle, just to raise his awareness that something was different, to see what he would do.  He didn't mind.  So then, the saddle. 

I flapped the leathers and moved it back and forth on his back.  He didn’t seem to care.  I girthed it loosely, using my hands to pull it tight under his barrel, but not actually buckling it tight.  This is usually a point where a horse might object a bit, but he was busy watching the manure man leave, so I went ahead and slowly snugged it up.

I sent him out on the longe line.  Most horses I have trained, at this point, have given at least one little objection to the new thing strapped to their backs.  They feel the saddle moving a bit, putting pressure on the girth, and get it in their heads to try to ditch the whole kit and caboodle.  Even the mellowest of them might give a little kick out at this point, some will bolt forward, and the more firey will give a few good bucks before I scold them and request forward movement.

Stormkite, now wearing the saddle, trotted right out.  I waited for the buck or bolt.  It didn’t come.  Pony just kept trotting along, trying to avoid the mucky area, same as before.  When we went the other way, same same.  No buck, no bolt.   

Surprised and satisfied, I stopped work and led him over to do a bit of grazing before bringing him back to the stable.  The mares were all lined up at the fence, ears pricked forward, watching Stormkite, and it was obvious that they noticed the saddle.  So, I stood him sideways to give them a better look.  His sister Dee reached out her nose and touched the saddle.

“Yes, Dee.  Little brother has the saddle on and HE didn’t buck,” I told her.

We’ll repeat the whole thing today, well, maybe not the manure part, and see if he tries to get rid of it.  Sometimes a horse in training waits for the second time he does something to act up.  But I have a feeling he’s going to ace this part of his training and will be ready to move onto the next chapter.

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