Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rugby's Progress

So Rugby and I have been working along, getting to know each other through our groundwork. T.S. came for another session last week. There was a bit of a scheduling mix-up and I had to leave work early to meet him at the barn. So, I wasn't dressed to participate in the groundwork but since he was going to be gone for the rest of the month of June, I told him to do the work with him anyway and I would observe. I didn't want to miss the chance for another training lesson and then have to wait a month before he returned.

Rugby did very well, even with the barn workers doing some construction just outside the arena, he kept his mind on his work and was surprisingly settled even moving past it.

T.S. told me that he wanted me to call him before the month was over to schedule as soon as he comes back because he books up quickly when he returns. He felt, based on what he has seen from us that if all continues well, in our next session he will work with Rugby, then he'll get on and ride, then have me do so. Cool, I am working for that goal!

And I have been trying to continue the exercises and work him with the same direction on my own. It's not easy. I find I walk away from a groundwork session even more exhausted than when I ride! I don't know if it's more physical or mental as I try to stay a step ahead and do each movement with the proper response! I may not be perfect but I never quit until I get what I need from him and everything has been ending well.

I'm very, very pleased with his manners on the crossties. He will now move over from the slightest touch and asking "Over". He picks up all four feet for you as soon as he's asked and does not lean when you hold them up to clean them. He had his hooves trimmed this past Sunday and was just super for the trimmer. He didn't lean or wobble this time and kept each of his hooves on the stand for as long as the trimmer needed him to. His hooves are the best I have ever seen on a horse. In three trimmings they have gone from just okay to perfect for him. No cracks, no thrush and very strong. I am impressed. My trimmer is lovin' it! He's my first completely barefoot horse and I like what I see!

We have ended one of my personal favorite bonding moves and that's hand feeding of treats. I was very quick to just do what I did with Monty and hand him snacks without him needing to earn them. That stopped as soon as I got disrespected and bucked off. Once again, I had to get my head out of my "Monty" mindset and do what needed to be done to properly train Rugby. With several weeks of this I see another change. He looks to me for attention and what are we going to do next, and not just because he wants to check my pockets for treats. I've even had him nicker at me if I'm standing outside his stall talking to someone else because he wants me to take him out and fuss with him. He knows by now I have no snacks for him. That's pretty cool.

I will still place one or two treats in his bucket after we've completely finished our work and he's back in the stall. He knows then he's done and can relax. And he'll always put his nose up to the open feed door to have his nostril blown into softly and get a horse smooch before I go home.

So I'm not back in the saddle yet but I'm ready. I'm going to keep up the groundwork and have no problem waiting for T.S. to return before I get there. The most important thing is Rugby and I continue to bond and know what's expected of each other.


Promise said...

So glad to hear about his progress. It sounds like he just needed to know your boundaries and have everything consistently reinforced. You're doing great, I can't wait to hear more updates!

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic update on so many levels!

Stephanie said...

What a great post!!
It is really very inspiring to follow along with the progress you and Rugby are making.
It is just a reminder to me that some 'habits' are hard to break and can be the reason for some unwanted behavior, like respecting personal space.
Keep up all the hard work and can't wait to read about you getting up in the saddle again!

Enjoy your horse kisses :)

Mrs Mom said...


Glad to hear how his hooves improved as well. Told ya you two were in fantastic hands there! ;)

Looking forward to hearing how well your next session goes, and I have my fingers crossed tight that you can ride then too!!!

jmk said...

So glad to hear you tow are bonding. There was a point where I felt my horse Scout and I would never have the bond I have with my older horse. I'm happy to tell you that it does happen eventually, as you're finding out. Now the really great stuff will start to happen between the two of you...trust will develop and then things only keep getting better! Enjoy the journey!

Anonymous said...

What fantastic progress - it sounds like he just needed the direction to know what to do. Your trainer sounds excellent! With the treats - I find I have to consider each horse separately - with some it's OK and others definitely not. I think that, now that things are on the right track, Rugby's going to work out splendidly for you!

Kritter Keeper said...

i always leave a treat in their bucket after work. i think that is a nice way to thank a horse. glad things are going well. do you video him? might be fun when your trainer gets him under saddle.

Jean said...

Excellent news. I do like the idea that your trainer hopes to get you into the saddle soon. While the groundwork is super and helps focus Rugby, the sooner you can get on his back--for your own confidence, not his--the better. Even if you just sit on him, that would be good.