Still More Basketball

More basketball. I know it gets boring. Well, not for me. Especially when I have someone to play with. My son runs great interference. Not on purpose, he’s just good at getting in the road.
It was fun to sit on Rusty, not touching the reins and see how well he understands what is asked of him. Even more fun was watching Coyote. If you watch to the end of the video we stop to give everyone treats. And I do mean everyone, doesn’t everybody share horse cookies with their children?   Coyote decides to get in on the game.
I’ve always said that Coyote is too smart for his own good. It can make for a wonderful, fun horse or a difficult one that’s hard to handle depending on how you treat them. I’ve always welcomed Coyotes opinions and allowed him to express himself freely. I don’t always agree, but he’s able to have a say. Here he watched Rusty get treats and sees what he is getting rewarded for. Then Coyote, who I’ve never worked on this with, sticks his nose in the basket and asks, this? is this what you want me to do? Of course I reward him thoroughly! What a good smart pony.
We don’t give horses credit for being as smart as they really are. Instead people spend so much time trying to be the boss and make sure the horse doesn’t threaten their authority. Imagine what we can do if we let our horses do some of the talking too.


Bridle Introduction

After we began making some headway in the head lowering it was time to add the bridle. I cut out a little in the middle to keep it short and sweet but the time between introducing it and him sticking his head happily through it was amazingly brief.
After lots of time spent looking at Harvey I started to wonder. He was said to be a Morgan but didn’t have a DNA match. He’s so refined and elegant, not as thick and workmanlike as my Morgans. He could be one of those “new style” Morgans that I only hear about but what if he wasn’t? What if he was a Saddlebred? The Morgan horse association charges fifty dollars for a DNA test and can tell you if they come up with a match. I was willing to do that for this pretty boy on the off chance that he could be reunited with his papers. I had a Saddlebred cross years ago, he was a wonderful horse. I thought it would be fun to try and see what we could find.
I contacted the Saddlebred association and asked about it. They were happy to do a DNA test for fifty dollars but wanted another hundred to enter the results into their computer and see if there was a match! That seemed beyond ridiculous to me. Apparently they aren’t particularly interested in helping out horses of their breed. I will go on considering Harvey a Morgan and proud of it.


Teaching Step Over

Before I ever get in Harvey, or any horse for that matter, they need to know how to step over to a gate so I can get on. For Harvey, and any other horse in training or that I don’t know the history of, it’s not just a handy way to get on but a way to make sure they are ok with someone over their backs. A way to test their reactions with feet planted firmly on the… fence, gate, whatever. He can spook and run off bucking when I put a leg over the saddle and it wont matter because I will still have a firm hold on the gate. This could be done by teaching them to target with their hip and asking them to step over that way but I don’t see any way that the horse is being harmed by teaching a cue, tapping with the whip, instead. I’ve never had any luck figuring out how to teach hip targeting anyway and I know how to do it this way.


Basketball, Mounted

I got to ride with my son today! It doesn’t happen very often. In a curious reversal of roles for them he wanted nothing to do with going off with his father for the day and our daughter who usually refuses jumped at the chance.
He has the makings of a wonderful little rider, not a lick of sense, great balance, and lots of determination. He and Coyote do really good together. Today we played basketball together, then we rode out down the driveway and back through the yard. I assure you there will be more videos of that later.




Head Lowering

It’s not that I haven’t been working with Harvey. It’s just not as often as I would like. Here we are working on a head down cue. Harvey is so nervous and tense. He goes around with his head in the air and his back hollowed out. There’s not a drop of muscling on his top line. I like a high head carriage. With the withers lifted and back round. High and hollow is what gives upright horses a bad name.
We’ve been working on relaxing and standing with his neck level. He also needs to know how to lower it on cue to be bridled and haltered. Instead of putting my hand on his poll and trying to make him bring his head down I rested it there then offered the target for him to reach down towards. Hand on head, say down, offer target, until he starts to anticipate and lowers his head to the touch or word. He’s getting there.

Ball Bloopers

I said that the last video was the last one, from that session. Not that I wasn’t going to stop putting up videos of my horse playing basketball.
This is a bit of a bloopers reel. He’s done this exactly three times. Nothing is perfected yet. The immediate goal is to have him stand on his mat and wait quietly. We spent lots of time standing between basket attempts. Then, on cue, walk forward and pick up his ball and dunk it. Then return to his mat.
It’s a lot of small individual actions stuck together. Right now he is getting clicked for each little part as he completes it with lots of guidance. Eventually I hope to stand off to the side and tell him to go then watch as he goes to get his ball dunks it and walks back to the mat. I can’t wait to see if it ever happens.


Playing Ball


The United Methodists Women’s Rummage sale is one of my favorite events of the year. And one of my husbands least favorite. I come home with all kinds of good stuff. This year I bought Rusty a piano and the kids various toys but I just could not bring myself to splurge on the five dollar basketball hoop. Unbelievably it was still there on half price day near the end of the sale and I rushed to bring it home at two fifty.  Rusty is making good use of it!

Harvey, 5th go

I played with Harvey today. I started off with Rusty but was unprepared and he wandered off while I searched for stuff. I could have gone and gotten him but Harvey was standing there wanting to work While Rusty was not. So I gave them each what they wanted.
The whole thing lasted for just over eleven minutes. I cut it down to just over a minute.
I put down our mat and the whole thing was one big long episode of mat training while we worked on everything else. We started with a little targeting, then on to patience and standing quietly. Some people who I greatly respect have talked about teaching a head down cue as a relaxation technique. So I decided to try it. He just braces against poll pressure so, on the fly, we tried a different angle. I said down, touched his poll, and offered the target. We’ll see how it goes.
Then I haltered him. No more backing away from it. Not as good as I like but we need to get the head down cue before it can be really good. We did some sacking out with the lead and I brought out the blanket and threw it over his back. having it up there made him all nervous again so we worked on head down. I was out of pellets before he was as calm as I would have liked but I let him go. He can think on it until our next chance to play.


A New Treat Bag!

I am so excited. I’ve been wanting a new treat pouch. The old one is very nice. It’s the right color and tries it’s hardest, but, it’s just not big enough. When we ride I cram it full of treats and then it can’t close anymore. We’re fine at a walk but if we trot or canter treats start flying everywhere. It’s a little awkward not to mention annoying.
I had been pondering whether or not they sold fanny packs at walmart when we stumbled upon a dog accessory stand at a local festival. All their packs were hand sown in their own personal sweat shop in their basement, according to them 😉 I really liked that they were locally (Rapid City) made by what was very literally a mom and pop company. They aren’t advertised as such but they are set up for clicker training with all the required compartments and a clip for the clicker. There were also packs for the dogs to carry and much larger and smaller fanny pack type options as well as every other type of carrier I could imagine and certainly can’t remember.
It is intended for riding but I couldn’t wait that long to try it out. After a quick customization it was ready to go and I wore it out to trim Harvey today. It goes plenty big enough to fit around me. The clips are sturdy but plastic and should break if I ever hang up on a saddle horn. The bag is big enough to fit plenty of treats and zips securely shut. It makes it a little less handy to get to treats but that’s the point. They wont escape as easily either. It worked nicely for ground work and I can’t wait for a chance to ride to try it out for real.
They have a facebook page and a website