March 11, 2010
Had a good day in the saddle. Dandy is a Missouri Foxtrotter, a breed I have no experience with. He is four years old, and has never been ridden until today. His previous owner did a wonderful job starting him off. He has excellent ground manners. His new owner saddled, and worked him on the longe line a bit last weekend. I've continued his groundwork since Monday. He's gotten lots of grooming and leading around his new digs, getting used to the people and machinery. I sacked him out with an old saddle blanket and a big over sized flannel shirt. Tuesday, he was introduced to the bit. I used a tiny snaffle, and put some grape jelly on it for good measure. We worked with the blanket and shirt again for a while. Then, I stepped into the stirrup and draped myself over the saddle several times. He has stood calmly for all of this.
Today, I gave him a good grooming and saddled him up again. I used a larger, rubber coated D ring snaffle this time. We worked with the big shirt for a while, just to start with something he is familiar with. I draped myself over the saddle a few more times, then climbed on board. He didn't quite know what to make of it, but he is not spooky at all. In fact, he wouldn't move at all. To get him to move forward, his owner led him as I gave a verbal and leg cue to move out. After a couple of turns around the ring, we had transferred the ground cues to rider cues, and Dandy was working without being led. We worked about 2 hours. By the time we were done, He would walk out mostly with only a verbal cue. Occasionally, he would need slight leg pressure. Early on, I could feel the tension in his back. He was relaxed by the end of the session. When he would get bored with the "walk" and "whoa" drill, I worked with the big shirt from the saddle. I can take the shirt off, put it back on, and wave it around while he's standing or walking. We finished up with several mounts and dismounts. Dandy is a very intelligent horse, and a pleasure to work with.