Training Day - Fred the Roany Walker
Fred is here for training for several issues that need ironing out. We decided to work first on his inability to stand still for mounting and his habit for rushing off once you are in the saddle. Fred is a very gentle, very sweet gelding who means no harm. It's just a habit he needs to break.
He is also here to work in increasing smoothness and speed in his gait. So Christian started out with some pleasure riding to relax them both and help Fred settle so he could concentrate on learning.
Christian gaited him up hill over and over to help him build muscle memory and hold his gait better at a higher speed. Once Fred is gaiting faster up slopes and holding gait, he will then move to the flat and encourage the same.
Then it was time to help Fred break his old habit of being squirrely to mount and then hustling off. He must learn to stand quietly for as long as needed and not move off till asked. The best way to change a horse's mind about a bad habit is to make that habit more work to continue, than just doing what is asked.
Christian had already started Fred earlier on the ground to saddle part. Basically he would place a foot in the stirrup and if Fred moved away he would make him walk in fast circles around him. Then try to mount again and continue doing this over and over until Fred stood quietly for him to swing up.
The same principle works under saddle if your horse is trying to walk off. Keep in mind when making the horse circle under saddle, you need to either use a bitless bridle or a very mild bit to keep from injuring / pinching his mouth when asking to circle quickly. Christian is using his favorite training bit for horses accustomed to a shank bit. A very mild french link style bit with a
very fat link and very thick 1" at the cheek mouth piece. This is very wide and mild. If you do have to pull him around quickly this does not scissor up into the roof of the mouth.
It took about three tries before Fred realized he would rather stand still and let Christian climb all over him. Mission accomplished for today