Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mind Your Manners

New horse, new beatings, new people to offend!

I was going to write some sort of preface to this post about how maybe you should skip this one if non-stop snuggy time with your horse is the only thing on your agenda. If that's your horse reality, enjoy yourself. #snuggytimeforlife But instead I remembered I'd already written a preface many moons ago and went ahead and dug that out for you!

Plz read before leaving stupid comments, thx.

When Opie first arrived, he came with the warning that he stall walks when introduced to new places. His trainers were very upfront about that, and I assured them the first thing in his mouth was going to be ulcer medicine to ease the transition. Turns out not only did he stall walk, he also weaved, screamed, and his overall ground manners were found wanting.

"i what?? never!"

Ground manners are of utmost importance to me. I board at a very busy barn where several different people bring horses in and out to turnout during the week, and occasionally stalls get cleaned with horses still in them. From a safety stand point, the ground manners had to be installed right away.

Also though, I just hate a rude horse. I don't want them in my personal bubble, I don't want them dancing around on crossties, pulling me around while leading, or making tacking up/wrapping/treating injuries a time consuming process.

I've never dealt with a horse that weaves or stall walks before, and the accounts I got from people who have ranged from "It will never, ever stop. Don't even bother." to "You better make him stop before you maim him he maims himself." and everything in between. Several people forwarded me really interesting articles about what causes weaving, and what effects weaving has on the horse. Honestly, the conclusion I came to was that it's not fixable.

So obviously I decided I was going to be the one to cure weaving.

AND I DID.

"seems like a lie, where are those cookies."

Now before anyone offers me a book deal or a scientific grant (to which I say, where the fuck were you when I had the only horse ever in the history of 'merica with localized sarcoidosis?), I repeat: I've never dealt with a horse that weaves before. I don't know what's typical or how bad Opie was compared to other horses.

However, the reason I thought I could get him to stop the behavior was that he never did it incessantly; it was always triggered by something. He didn't stand in his stall weaving or pacing up and down if the barn was full, or if he had food in front of him, or something else was holding his attention. He was weaving if he was in the barn by himself or when he was on the crossties, and it got worse on the crossties when I was doing something like tacking up or the farrier was working on him.

With that evidence, I felt like this was more an anxiety outlet combined with a 4yo's fresh off the track brain in a brand new environment with a brand new routine. All things that pointed to: remove the anxiety, remove the weaving.

At first I tried just sticking him on the crossties and waiting him out. Surely you can't weave forever. While eventually he stopped flinging himself from side to side, he was still most definitely weaving.


So from there I moved on to beating. (Again, plz read the linked post.)

The weaving was approached as just another part of Ground Manners Boot Camp. These are the rules. If you follow them, you get a reward. If you don't follow them, you get a punishment.

I learned straight away that Opie's high reward, will do absolutely anything to earn it, reward is a peppermint. Easy peasy. Figuring out a punishment that he listened to that didn't involve me actually beating him took a few days to work out, but eventually I found that he really dislikes being driven backwards--no actual touching involved as having the lead rope shook at him and getting in his space to move him back was what stuck in his head as a real punishment.

Armed with that knowledge, I ditched the crossties and worked with him in-hand to show him that all those things he found so anxiety inducing were actually okay. If he ignored the reward and wouldn't follow the rule, he got sent backwards.

I leave his two pasture mates in now until I'm done riding him. That works especially well at this time of year where they're on hay instead of straight grass, and I was having to hold out hay until everyone was turned out which made Momo and Ralph upset. That nixed the stall walking right away to have his buddies still in their stalls while he was in his.

While tacking up, I made sure to constantly stuff him with a lower reward treat (baby carrots) until he stopped dancing all over the place. Once he was quieter about getting saddled, I went back to the crossties again, eased off the carrots, and only rewarded him with his high reward peppermints when he stood still for the whole process with no bribery. He now waits patiently to get tacked up, and has no problem hanging out waiting in the crossties with his saddle on if I get distracted by something else.

just chillin. 

He was also quite bad for the farrier when she came out to shoe him for the first time. Because he was so intent on weaving, he didn't want to stand still long enough for her to keep his foot up on the stand. It involved a lot of yanking his feet away, and if he couldn't get them back he'd just fall over. Fortunately Farrier is patient, but when she was done she said, "I'm glad this is one horse I know won't be like this the next time I do him." Challenge accepted!

During every grooming while we worked on standing still being the best ever here are some more cookies, I'd bring my hoof stand out and practice him holding his feet up for longer and longer. He'd learned that Bitch Is Serious about the rules, so by this point he understood that yelling his name was the one and only warning before getting chased backwards. Not liking getting chased backwards at all, he quickly grew very respectful of a verbal warning. Also good because it's something Farrier can use with him.

Now that his ground manners are where I expect them to be--he leads quietly, crossties quietly, tacks up quietly, is patient about waiting--the last thing I had to conquer was the fucking screaming.

When he first got here, he'd scream about anything. Was the entire barn full but someone was walking a horse down the aisle? Better scream about it. Were horses getting turned out even if someone was in the ring with him? Definitely scream. Trail riding and see another horse? Scream. Trail riding and don't see another horse? For fucking sure scream.

when you scream make sure you fling you neck around dramatically.

If there is one thing in this world I hate above all others, it's screaming. I cannot stand it. Like, legit grounds for selling a horse. Can't deal.

This habit has been much harder to break than the others, and it's still not totally kaput. What's made it so hard is that there doesn't seem to be a defining factor about what triggers it. Sometimes he doesn't make a peep. Sometimes we're doing the exact same thing we did the day before without issue and suddenly he lets one loose. It's like he's a horse or something, prone to horsey whims. Mind boggling.

Anyway, I have made some progress sticking to the same boot camp rules. You behave (no screaming when in the face of a prime screaming situation like other horses calling out or turnout is going on), cookie. You misbehave (scream), back you go. Obviously this was hard to enforce from the saddle. I couldn't yank him backwards--I mean, I guess I could, but obviously didn't want to. I tried a couple different tactics--booting him in the ribs, spinning in a circle, hustling at whatever gait we were in, etc--but none did anything.

He would not shut up one day while I was trying to cool him out by walking laps around the driveway because he could see his paddock but couldn't see his friends (because they were still in the barn so he wouldn't scream and weave). I'd run through any distractions I could think up, but eventually one scream per lap turned into straight up trumpeting to the fucking angels and mid-bugle I jumped off and sent him backwards all the way across the parking lot. We were able to finish with several in-hands laps in silence after that.

But again, we came back from our trail ride with Riding Bestie and Ralph a few days later, and outside there were horses screaming which got Opie screaming which for some reason Ralph felt the need to participate in (because Ralph is a dick and I hate him), and it was just a giant non-stop scream party.

So I jumped off mid-scream again and chased him backwards...each and every time he started making noise. The intensity of Scream Fest 2017 wasn't dying down for anyone and Opie's attention wasn't staying on me so I broke down and wailed him in the chest with my hand. That got his attention in a hurry, and it was immediately followed by more backing until I felt like I was the only thing in existence in his tiny little world.

I threw him in a stall quickly to grab his standing martingale since I knew I was going to need it after that display of ridiculousness, during which he picked up the screaming again. I finished getting what I needed, slammed the tack room door shut, and stomped up to the stall and screamed his name at him like a fucking rabid banshee.

He shut the fuck up. And he hasn't had a screaming fit in front of me since. He still lets one loose when we come back from trail rides, but I can tolerate that.

"can't scream if eating cookies nonstop. just saying."

I haven't beaten him at his game yet though.

I got there last Saturday mid-turnout and was happy to see him hanging out in his stall quietly even with the horses on either side of him out of their stalls. I gave him a scratch and a cookie and told him what a perfect baby horse he was. When I got into the ring, K was like, "I should have known you were here when he shut up. He's been screaming non-stop all morning."

Is that Carly 1 point or Opie 1 point?

I know the weaving and barginess will come back once show season starts. I don't expect him to be perfect at his first off-property experiences. But I think once he learns the routine of a show horse, and I teach him that it's also fun and rewarding and filled with cookies, he'll settle down while traveling, too.

And, you know, hopefully it will be so fun being surrounded by so many other horses he can keep his mouth shut.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

In which Opie earns a day off

After a constructive ride in the ring Saturday morning in which I was like, "Opie, you're never going to pick up the correct lead if you violently fling your head and neck about like some sort of angry block-headed swan." and Opie was all, "Watch me." (That wasn't the constructive part, btw.), I brought him out to the aisle and got him untacked.

While we were waiting for a clear path to his stall/halter/freedom in general, BM stuck her head out and asked her two tiny lesson kiddos if they wanted to start their lesson with a trail ride. Tiny kiddos said yes, and I invited myself along with the bareback Dopie King.

he is so very short, but already so very wide.

Opie happily marched along in the lead, traversing a new to him field and a family of hidden Christmas tree shoppers without a care in the world. His one bugaboo appears to be the sight of other horses turned out. I'm not sure why this is very confusing to him as I know he got wintered at a large farm during his racing career, but it's consistently been the one thing he needs a lead to get past. All it takes is another horse continuing to walk and he'll follow--or another horse throwing a tantrum into the side of him to distract him, Ralph--but it definitely blows his little dappled mind.

When we got back, BM asked what the weather was going to be like for Sunday. It was forecasted as 50* and sunny, but sometimes it says that and it turns into 35* and raining and I've chucked horses out naked. Sorry, ponies. I'm glad you're all fat and fluffy. We lucked out though, and were on for a trail exploration BM had been wanting to try for awhile.

strolling down the neighboring farm's driveway

BM was on her personal horse and K joined us on Oz--both seasoned pros of trail riding and road riding in particular. Things started off auspiciously when BM's horse began crossing the first main road, realized we weren't directly behind him, and started throwing a tantrum in the middle of the road. At that point traffic around The World's Busiest Christmas Tree Farm was still relatively light so there was only one minivan with a tree strapped to their hood that had to stop and wait for the four year old to march across and take over the lead. Again.

It wasn't long until we hit the edge of the tree farm and started hearing people among the trees...with chainsaws and handsaws and loud, hidden voices. Opie was initially startled by these hidden, lurking humans and twitched a little before stopping and letting Secret take back over the lead.

Secret was like, "Whatever, I seriously do not care about hidden humans. Seems like I good time to throw a tantrum and buck at passing traffic!" Which also upset Oz who agreed with Opie that these monsters in the trees were something very fucking suspicious indeed.

a less populated part of the tree farm, though i'm pretty sure
that's oz about to take his fiftieth nervous poop.

Kudos to BM and K for telling their horses to get on with their lives and stop being naughty children because I probably would have called it. Instead, I was busy scratching Opie's withers and telling him he was a good boy while he gave the hairy eye to a parked cart with a tree in it.

And that's it. He didn't do anything more than stare in confusion at the swarm of activity surrounding at least a hundred cars and milling people as we passed by. He kept walking on a loose rein beside a deep drainage ditch, happy to be in front or behind or squashed into the side of someone. He waited patiently for a clear moment to cross the road again, and then plodded along while Secret and Oz power walked ahead.

If someone needed a lead, he gave it. If someone got antsy and wanted to charge ahead, he let them go by without ever changing pace.

now entering foreign territory. we have crossed the county line.

The only problems we had were nearly slipping on someone's freshly sealed driveway, and running into one obnoxious pony and donkey pair at a farm we were passing. The temptation was too much and Opie called out once before jigging for all of thirty seconds until they were out of sight. Whoa, stallion. Don't get too crazy.

Once we reached the county line, we called it good and decided to head back. We tried to get a selfie in front of the sign, but I'm not coordinated enough to use my phone that well. Instead, right as we gave up, one of BM's friends drove by and--being a fellow crazy horse person--parked her car and hopped out to grab a picture for us!

opie is all, "what is my life."

Secret particularly was pumped that we were heading home and opened up a whole new walk gear. Opie did not understand the concept and was very, very tired after his longest ride yet. Probably of his entire life. He figured out that he could walk slowly and occasionally burst forth into the trot for a dozen strides to catch up before walking slow again.

He did, however, occasionally break out the Zenyatta walk which instantly made me make loud, girlish noises and point dramatically down at him while telling BM and K to LOOK AT MY HORSE. I will have to find a way to get this on camera so you can be suitably impressed. It may involve putting game cams up around future trails. Worth it.

Our second trip past The World's Busiest Christmas Tree Farm was slightly less dramatic. There was no bucking into traffic (Secret), but much jigging by both of the older gentleman. Opie tried their tactic a few times, but was much too tired to get behind it. Instead we trailed them on a looped rein at a steady walk while I slumped lazily and thought about how incredibly comfortable fancy saddle is.

Back on home turf, Oz had a sudden fit of anger and lunged at Opie who scooted forward out of the way in confusion. I kicked him into the lead to give Grumpy his space, which worked fine until we hit a huge puddle and Opie slammed on the brakes to take a drink break.

will give side eye to anyone for judging him

I let the poor kid have a long graze when we got back before turning him out and laced his handful of peppermints with a gram of Bute. We covered six miles in two hours which is fairly glacial, but it was all road riding--obviously we were on the grassy shoulder for the majority of it, but certainly different from cushy indoor ring footing.

Today's grand plans include giving him his first clip and washing his tail if it's not too cold. Very exciting stuff.

Monday, December 4, 2017

All the trot work

I got a fresh batch of Snootcentric media this weekend, and while the Big Adventure was a two hour trail ride spanning seas of hibernating alfalfa and treacherous holiday traffic (located approximately ten feet apart because welcome to the 'burbs of Rochester), I just left you all with a trail riding story last week.

So. I will save that for tomorrow. It is full of daring and intrigue walking calmly on the buckle while I annoy my barn mates with incessant giggling and pointing to The Snoot exclaiming, "LOOK AT HIM. LOOK HOW PERFECT." And they're all, "Yes, we're too busy leaping into oncoming traffic on our naughty old men supposed-to-be-seasoned-trail horses."

Alright, maybe some daring and intrigue.

opie says trail rides R stupid, cookies are better

Hubby was kind enough to swing into the barn on his way to do other things to grab some new pictures and a couple quick videos for comparison's sake. I hadn't gotten any video until I forced Riding Bestie to record a couple minutes of very boring trot work when she was out last month.

In this video, we'd already gone on our trail ride, had a meltdown over screaming to relocated best friend and Ralph (who was in the fucking ring with us), and trotted for about five minutes. It was hands down the worst Opie has been under saddle since he came off the track.


Yeah, I know. Someone should give me an award for being able to stay on.

In all seriousness though, what it's hard to tell in the video is that he was constantly trying to yank the reins out of my hands using the considerable power of his block head and tiny, flexible neck. Using his tiny neck as a weapon is one of his favorite tricks--one that usually only comes out when fighting over picking up the canter, and is not very much on display here. The second favorite trick being rein-yanking.

Of course, now that I've made some changes, a lot of that was probably coming from a too-narrow saddle. Now that he's equipped in fancy leather that's approximately seventeen inches wider in the gullet (more on fancy leather once our official one gets here), he's slowly transitioning to just following the contact down and pleasantly stretching instead of hurtling me ass over teacups with a particularly ferocious yank.



Typical for most fresh OTTBs, he started off rides overly excited about the prospect of other horses in the ring with him. I actually don't usually ride during the weekends because they're so busy, but for now it's a great introduction to what's going to happen during warm up at shows. That is, mass chaos.

"WOW, HORSES, NOISE, COMMOTION, MUCH EXCITE."

Fortunately in Opie Land, while things remain interesting, you are the side eye master of the universe and all those interesting things can still be watched without putting forth undue effort.

one lap later.

He takes maybe five minutes of trotting around before the half halts start to compute and he's ready to go to work. It's going to be a big difference for me warming a horse up at shows with the goal of riding them down before actually warming up, but he's so fucking lazy I don't think it's going to take much.

He no longer cares about other horses passing him in the ring--from behind, the side, head-on, or if they're jumping or cantering elsewhere. Should we be in the way of someone else trying to work, no worries. We've gone from being the danciest to the standiest. He'll park it wherever and whenever for however long you want. Possibly even longer than you want. Grand Champion of standing and hoping more cookies get doled out.

He's never been one to err on the side of llama--he carries himself naturally in a pretty cute frame, although certainly Victorian-era carriage horses must be in his lineage somewhere--but he's learning to let go at the base of his neck with his new saddle, and stretching has become his jam. I am slightly bitter over this as it took Bobby all twelve years of his life to figure out stretching was a thing.

my saddle will have a seat my ass fits in. i eagerly await its arrival.

Overall, my biggest impression of him is that he's super honest. If he doesn't get it, it's not because he's being bad. He either isn't quite there physically yet, or the concept is not computing in his brain. If you tell it to him correctly, he will try. He's also going to be super good for me because he tattles right away when I get handsy. "You do waggy waggy with your hands? I do waggy waggy with my head." 

gah, so cute.

I don't know if it's just the emotional clusterfuck 2017 has been for me that's making me extra-appreciative of how easy this kid is, but right now I'm having so much fun restarting him. The knowledge that I was going to have to be at square one yet again after I put Bobby down was depressing at times, but Opie is making the experience really rewarding instead.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

You're a trail horse now, k?

A couple weeks ago Riding Bestie came up to meet The Snoot for the first time. I had to pick Hubby up at the airport in the early afternoon, but it left us with just enough time to ride ponies, go tack shopping, and stuff our fat faces with Taco Bell. You know, the usual, just in overdrive.

and run these puppy dogs into the ground of course.

Sarah got on Ralph who accompanied us on our first trail ride and who also gets turned out with Opie. We headed out as soon as we were mounted and I had strapped on my quarter sheet because it was freezing.

Opie bravely marched out the door in the lead and walked on a loose rein the whole time. He crossed the creek with a little leap before waiting on the other side for Ralph to catch up and cross too. Since it had been raining so much, I decided to reverse the path we had gone before and come up the smaller hill instead of go down it.

As we crossed into another field, we got too close to a pricker bush and my quarter sheet snagged on one of the branches. I reached back to try to tug it free as we kept walking, but it was well and truly stuck and the velcro parted from my lap and the whole thing slid over Opie's butt to dangle from the bush. I don't know if he was ever galloped in a quarter sheet during his time at the track, but regardless, he didn't so much as twitch the whole time.

purple breeches, purple butt cape, ten thousand layers under blue coat.

Obviously I was pleased with that, and then we rounded the corner and he spotted the horses turned out at the farm behind ours. He stopped in surprise and looked back which I noted in our last trail ride meant he was unsure and would appreciate a lead.

Ralph said no. Ralph said, "You think Opie is lazy? Watch this." Despite Sarah spanking him on the ass with a dressage whip, Ralph refused to so much as stick his nose in front of Opie. He commenced bucking into the side of Opie to show his displeasure at being asked to do such an impossible task. Opie, meanwhile, trotted two steps to get out of the way and carried on leading on the buckle.

Welcome to your new life, kid. You gotta do what you gotta do whether you want to do it or not.

including cooling out bareback. #roughlife

We finished by walking around the front field and over some of the logs while Opie screamed his brains out because his recently relocated bestie had seen him pass by on the trail ride and couldn't even, but the fight against incessant screaming is a post for another day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

First free jumpies

My main goal with Opie is to turn him into a super fancy, blow your socks off, please don't notice he's a midget, dressage horse. There aren't a ton of eventing opportunities around here, and those that do run are expensive, prone to last-minute cancellation, and not particularly fun for me. However, I have every intention of sweeping through the disciplines because ribbons, and with the plethora of low key hunter shows in the immediate area on top of all the hunter paces offered, Opie needs to learn to jump.

Jump without clonking through poles without a care for his cannon bones that is. Because he's already super good at that part.

wow so gud. 

It wasn't until I started working with BM that I put any stock in free jumping actually being a valuable tool instead of an excuse to chase your horse around the ring and let them free wheel through a bunch of poles. BM's approach with Bobby showed me that when planned out, there's actually a whole lot of training going on. 

I was working by myself and didn't want to overwhelm Opie on his first go-round--and first time ever seeing anything more than a twelve inch vertical he could clunk over from a standstill--so I started off with three poles on the ground, 9' to a one stride. 

As we all know Opie is not one for, uhh...forward thinking so really my biggest concern here was that I was going to die of exhaustion chasing him up and down the ring to get him to go through the chute. What I didn't take into account was his supreme love for peppermints and how it trumps All Things. 

where them cookies at??

I led him through once each way by his halter and rewarded with a peppermint each time. Then I let him loose at the entrance, shook the whip at him, and met him on the other side with a cookie. I adjusted his ground poles to a teeny tiny X one stride to a bigger X and sent him off by himself. I herded him through the chute, he clobbered everything, and then came to get his cookie. 

Round three?


Child genius. 

I put my phone away to adjust the jumps a couple times and give him my full attention to actually make sure he was jumping things instead of just Hulk smashing. I ended with his tiny X to a 2'3" oxer. The first time through he was feeling so wild and thought maybe he'd run through it because omg so fast.


That clearly didn't work out for him, but because he's brilliant he didn't even stop for a cookie. He went right back around all by himself and fixed the whole shebang. 


And then obviously got extra cookies and finished there. 

superman that ho

jk i'm perfect

It wasn't so much of a "Use your body better" session as a "You have a body" session, but even that little bit has already paid off. I try to incorporate little Xs into nearly every ride just for something fun to do besides the mental hard work of learning to trot on the bit. Opie has felt way more confident in himself on approach--instead of getting wiggly, he's locks on and boldly...trots over. 

Okay, so I didn't instantly create a horse that jumps the moon (or even jumps at all), but he did keep trying to drag me to the little 2' vertical set up yesterday while we were boldly CANTERING little Xs under saddle.  He'll being seeing more of the jump chute this winter!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Oh hey

I'm having a bit of a conundrum over blogging lately.

Part of me wants to share every single thing Opie and I are getting up to because Oh Em Gee this kid is such a smarty pants. But I don't want to become that person who expounds on how amazing their horse is, and everyone ends up being like, "Shut the fuck up, bitch. Some of us are over here struggling with real problems."

Spoiler alert though: It's not all roses. Is it ever? Today I clunked my horse's head into a steel support beam in the arena because he was about to somersault picking a fight about the right lead. We are beauty, we are grace. I will hit you in the face. (Not intentionally though, just, you know, please focus on your body parts for fuck's sake, Opie.)

there is no one better at throwing side eye than this kid.

And then there are the wonderful people on facebook who have Opinions on everything. Y'all. EV-UR-E-THINGGGG. From old college friends to one particular person from my barn in PA that feels the needs to comment on every single picture, I can't get away with a mention of Opie or Bobby or any other horse that has ever existed without them being like, "WORDS. WORDS WORDS WORDY WORDS."

"I miss doing real dressage rides."
"DON'T WORRY HE WILL GET THERE HE IS STILL YOUNG IT TAKES TIME ONE DAY HE WILL BE AWESOME AT THINGS TOO JUST WAIT IT WILL BE SO FUN HE IS SO CUTE BUY THIS THING AND THAT THING AND CHANGE THIS THING LET ME TELL YOU A STORY."

Right. I know.

learning

I've actually only ever owned fresh off the track horses, and I've turned every single one of them into the horse I wanted. I've been down this road several times before. Sometimes I just want to share cute pictures or celebrate small wins, and facebook is the quickest place to be like, "Yay, we did a thing!" Then that reaction spirals out of control before I can form a blog post about it and it kills all desire to share with you lovely people who neither annoy me nor say foolish things.

So I need to find a balance of #blessyourtimeline with pictures of The Snoot and bragging about all the fun boxes we're ticking off without crossing the line of  "I will cut you if you don't shut up." Because really, every day we're up to new and amazing things:
  • Trail rides
  • Free jumping
  • Saddle fitting
  • Bareback romping
  • Just Say No to weaving
    • and screaming
    • and invading personal space
    • and bad manners in general
  • Gearing up for our first "horse show"
just say yes to cookies

I do want to document these things to look back on--that being the whole reason I blog in the first place--so expect to see some posts crawling out here shortly.

In the meantime, PA Barn Lady, if you can't refrain from being so obnoxious I'm going to have to start commenting back on all your delusional horse posts and go full on Cyber Psycho on you. Good fucking lord.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Child Genius

Sometimes with a heavier emphasis on child instead of genius.

idk where the rubber stop on my standing went so it's duct taped.
things is klassy around here. also, real talk, opie has maybe not the
most attractive profile out there. 

Opie returned to work Monday after a week off while I was in IL in which BM reported that he spent one night screaming his brains out for an hour and a half while one of his buddies was doing a lesson.

BM said, "Oh noes, Opie, your mom hates screaming. You better learn to be quiet!"

And then I said, "You have my permission to kill him."

And then he tried screaming during our ride and learned maybe piping the fuck down is the better option in Carly Boot Camp Land.

"oh hai, i missed you. JUST KIDDING YOU'RE THE WORST."
-opie, probably.

It was a rough re-introduction to Land of the Rules for this kiddo, but hey--at least it kept me from whining that things are too easy with him, right?

I started him off on the longe to give him a fair chance to get any sillies out, especially since we had to have a minor Come to Jesus in the crossties about standing still to get our feet picked. He started off with some zoomies at the trot before wildly bursting forth into the canter...for three strides and then quitting. Wow, Opie. Much wild. Such sassy. I finally got him going both directions w/t without being a lazy cow and quitting, or being a lazy cow and going fast for half a circle before quitting.

We, once again, had to have a little chit chat about standing at the mounting block, but fortunately that seemed to be a quick regression as he was a pro today. 

I really wanted to get after him about picking up the canter yesterday, but he ended up being such a spicy firecracker--on an Opie level which means he kind of trotted fast and had slightly less steering than usual (which is saying something as sometimes bouncing off the wall is still what turns him)--that I spent way more time working on transitions and settling into a quiet rhythm. He ended up offering me really good stretches at both the walk and trot, and since he'd also w/t over rows of ground poles a million times throughout the ride I let him quit there.

i went full #tackho and ordered him a new bit and bridle
simply because i don't like the way the brown micklem looks
on him. black micklem? fine. brown? no. he likes his bit while
he waits for his bridle to get here tho!
This morning I was set that we were going to tackle the canter. I didn't even need him suddenly going laps and making circles and picking it up in ten different spots and yada yada. I just wanted him to pick it up when asked and not immediately quit because hard

He was much more settled this morning than yesterday afternoon, probably because all his friends were still in. Whatever, I'll take the wins wherever. W/T, lots and lots of circling and changes of direction, and finally I set him up for the canter and asked. He ran into a faster trot which is his go-to, but right when I was about to regroup and try again he picked it up. Maybe four strides, but that's about twenty strides less than it took before I could even reel him back in from his Standarbred gait in previous attempts. He made it one whole lap before he thought about quitting. I legged him on and made him finish another half a lap and asked for the walk. 

For everyone that calls dibs on him for their pokey hunter pony, sorry. This kid has the natural knee action of once fancy (Yeah, I went there, Emma!) AF dressage horse. You know, down the line when he's not a lazy, non-steering, carriage horse. I'll try to make Riding Bestie get video on Friday!

in the meantime he's the best at strolling about on the buckle
after rides. 

We finished our ride in the outdoor where the never ending rain and/or snow melt (haha, missed all that while I was gone, suckers) has created two decent sized puddles down one long side. Opie marched right up to the first puddle, stopped, stuck The Snoot in it, and then marched through and on to the next. 

He also trotted through both without a moment's hesitation as long as I had both hands on the reins for steering, and not one hand occupied with my phone. 

Are we sensing a theme here? #steeringishard

getting so good about just hanging out, something he thinks
is a way better idea than working.