dancing horses

dancing horses

Sunday, June 15, 2014


So yesterday I had a bit of break through. The break through was for me but it has repercussions with Steele.

Here's the story:

You remember 'yes Ma'am' post. Well two days later I was working him. His ground work was good. Not perfect but good. I did have the sense that he wasn't with me 100% but I didn't trust my gut. Then I got on. It started out fine when all of sudden he began to balk at going forward. I urged him forward with my feet and my voice. It worked, sort of, but then he stopped and we had a conversation that went like this:
'walk on'
'walk ON'
'seriously? move!'
'la la la I can't hear you'
'dammit horse'
'screw you. I'm done.'

I wished I had a crop but I didn't. I was trapped. I couldn't think of what to do so I dismounted. We marched over to the gate and I'm sure he was happy. However, I put his halter on and clipped on the lunge. I won't lie, I was pissed. I know that emotion has no place in training but I have to acknowledge that it's there. So I took my anger and put it aside. I then used the energy from my anger in the next steps.
I asked him to move forward and he did. I asked him to whoa and then he refused to go forward. I corrected him sharply. At which point he leapt forward. Great- forward energy. I put his little defiant butt to work. Steele was not so happy with the idea of work. He threw a major tantrum. I was glad to have a chance to work this out with him. My thoughts were that for most of his wee life he gets to choose what he does. For the time I'm with him I get to pick what he does. Period.  The sooner he figured that out the better for both of us. After I had a nice and obedient horse I took off the lunge equipment and remounted. I made sure that I had forward when I wanted and then finished.

What I realized is that I need to pay attention to how he is during the ground work and not let it slide.

The next time I went to work him he was lovely with his ground work. I mounted but this time was prepared with a small crop that I have. After about 10 minutes he tried the balking again. I quickly reached back and gave him a smack where I had addressed the issue on the ground. He spun around:
'hey, someone hit me'
'what? really?'
'yes. where are they?'
'no idea'
'was it you?'
'how could it be me? I'm up here, not on the ground. We better move ahead'

I only had to use the crop twice. He couldn't figure out where this person was which was fine with me.  I was feeling pretty smug.

Then he began to be spooky about the far side of the ring. Now this has been a spot that has been a bit problematic but we've been working on it. As he was getting tense I suddenly flashed back to something that Royce said to me "A horse learns what you teach it". I realized that on the ground working in this area was not causing us any problems so why was I teaching him that it was okay to be spooky when under saddle?
I said to Steele and me "do you know what? you were fine down there just 10 minutes ago when I was on the ground so I'm not accepting that it's a problem when I'm up here"
He flicked an ear at me. We then walked down there with no issues. It had nothing to do with him understanding what I said- what happened was that my body language changed completely. I was no longer feeding the notion that we needed to be worried about that corner. In fact we were able to stand still for at least 3 minutes down there with him on a long rein. His ears were at half mast and his hind leg cocked. I called that a win and dismounted.

So that's two break through with myself: 1. tune into ground work. If I don't think he's with me then he's not.
2. I need to make sure that I don't reinforce spookiness or worry. One of us should know what we're doing.


  1. It's generally all about the human when problems crop up - ask me how I know this lol.

    Way to be the compassionate leader. I'm so enjoying watching (both of) your progress. Keep up the good work!

  2. When Chrome started the balking crap under saddle I just broke a limp off of a tree and used it as a crop lol. I've also smacked him on the butt with my hand, but I'm definitely not suggesting anyone else do that LOL! Now that he has figured that out all I have to do is give him a sharp kick and he quits balking. :D

  3. You are doing an excellent job with Steele. I'm very impressed. And you speak the truth about emotion happening. Like you said, I acknowledge it and then set it aside or channel the energy into something that isn't punitive.

  4. It's so refreshing when people understand how important groundwork is. All too often people either ignore ground work completely or they go overboard. Ten minutes of paying attention to body language goes a long way. Kudos to you!!!!


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