In which we discuss the education of horses: who teaches whom?
|Blue skies, good friends, and great horses.|
Duana and Hana have been learning all kinds of skills.
|Hana waits patiently, but is no help if Du needs extra TP|
The main skill, of course, is getting the rider to understand how to present a situation to the horse so that the horse will respond properly. It sounds so easy.
|Training while trail riding: Patty and Du discuss|
the mechanics and uses of the half-halt
Duana has three excellent mentors: Patty, of course, has trained a lot of horses, and she's also helped a lot of riders.
|Today Flower ate and drank along the trail...and offered to roll in the puddle, too!|
Uh, thanks. But no.
Du has been taking a lot of lessons with Dory, and that's helping a bunch. Duana's skills in the saddle have increased hugely--and so has her confidence.
|Six months ago, Du would've been much too nervous to mess around |
with her phone while holding onto Hana's lead.
Now, it's no big deal.
Du is learning...a lot! It's wonderful to watch her and Hana together.
|The Usual Suspects on the trail.|
People aren't the only "learners" in the group, of course. We all constantly work to improve things with our horses.
Flower has gained all kinds of skills since Patty bought her.
|Posing for the camera: it's a skill!|
Of course, I will never be finished with Fiddle's training. She's physically so talented, but was emotionally stunted by hormonal malfunctions most of her life thus far. Now that the hormones are out of the picture, however...
|Ariana on the left, Fiddle on the right|
They can trot side-by-side now, without fear of Dragon-fire
...she is able to be much more "socially appropriate" with other horses as well as with people.
|Sirie and Ariana. There's a reason we used Ariana for so many|
Endurance 101 photos--it's impossible to take an ugly picture of her!
This is the exercise where horse/rider teams ride in pairs, and then one horse moves ahead for a few yards then slows down to allow the other horse to pass by and lead for a few yards before slowing down to be passed.
When doing this exercise with a horse like Fiddle--a confirmed kicker who is the equine equivalent of a fear-biter--I must be extremely diligent and not shy about yanking her off into the bushes if she gives me any hint of fear/aggression.
With the combination of a LOT of practice (it's been six years!) and her new hormone comfort level, Fee was able to stay relaxed through the game for several miles, alongside a horse she doesn't usually hang with closely.
I don't know if I can begin to describe how gratifying that is for me.
|Fiddle's standard reward for good behavior: "Foooooooood!"|
Would she have gotten to this point without the surgery? Probably not.
Would she have gotten to this point without a continual training program aimed at getting her here?
Did I have to push my own learning curve almost every day to try to figure this out--helped every step of the way by the Usual Suspects?
Was it worth the time, the expense, the worry, the effort?
Somebody give me an "Amen!" Because I think the Dragon has earned one.