This is probably my 3rd time doing any kind of work with Sooty since I purchased him about 6 weeks ago. We’ve been a little consumed / preoccupied with putting our farm up for sale and moving.
The first two times I worked with him was mostly seeing how his basic ‘horse 101’ ground manners were. I also rode him once briefly. One of my students, Lauren, has worked with him once or twice a week though.
Tonight I put the in-hand cavesson on him and got started with the basic concepts such as; walking with the handler in a different position (next to the shoulder vs at his head), handler using a whip, and being in a cavesson with the handler’s hand right near his face. While he didn’t ‘know’ any of this work he really didn’t seem to be frustrated by it. His worse reaction was no reaction at all. So we walked a little down the long wall, did a few circles, a few stops and backing up on the long wall. I also introduced the cue to make the ‘seeking’ gesture in his neck. He was kind of ‘meh’ to that. He didn’t know how to respond so he did fling his head/nose to the request on the cavesson.
He did catch on to the request to bring his hindquarters towards me ‘sideways’. We are going to work on teaching him to side-pass up to the mounting block.
I was trying to gather information to start his asymmetry report and did note that lunging to the left was more difficult for him than lunging to the right. And while doing basic horsemanship-101 ground work he seemed to have equal problems stepping under his center of mass with his hind leg(s) and instead was creeping backwards and behind the other hind leg. His default neck posture / shape is his topline is shorter and his bottom line buldges, with his neck tying in at his wither below the wither. Ewe-necked when he is not active in his body.
On the plus side he stops like a soldier with his front legs, nearly 9 times out of 10! Front legs even and under his chest (vs behind or not in alignment with one another). And his conformation isn’t too bad for an Arabian. 😉 His hindquarter angles (croup to hocks) seem good enough to do lower level sport horse activities. He has a nice wither and decent shoulders so the saddle stays put! YAY! And his gaits are pleasant / easy to sit.
I did get on him bareback and we spent about 15 minutes in walk just feeling out his connection in a french-link JP curve snaffle. There was a little rooting (which he did when I went to try him pre-sale) but other wise he was pretty quiet from the ground work and lunging. Lauren has already said he is starting to seek forward down vs root at the reins. He halts pretty good from the rider’s core, which Lauren had mentioned to me the other day, too. 🙂
I’m excited to start working with him and I think he is amateur friendly. My thoughts on his training needs are:
- Horsemanship 101 type ground work. Do the TRT work (measuring the leadline / paying attention to the handler’s personal space, and the relaxation pattern of stepping under with / yielding the hindquarters and yielding in the front end by stepping behind with the front leg and then getting the relaxation response from him). Also teach him to ‘disengage’ and turn to face his handler with the ‘shhhhhhh’ voice command and body language / whip or lead rope cue.
- Start “Straightness Training” cavesson (in-hand) work and lunging work with him. Get the initial asymmetry report done for him.
- Start cross training work with varied terrain / hill work, cavaletti / ground pole work and other work with props like walk – halt transitions and backing-up between two ground poles to aid in his body awareness (crookedness).