Monday, October 30, 2017

One week with Opie

I have to remind myself a lot that it's only been one week since I bought Opie off the backside of Finger Lakes. In part because he's already absorbed so much about the routine of his new life, and in part because he still has so much learnin' to do.

In one week he has:
  • Stood for the farrier to get his racing plates off and steel shoes put on up front. 
  • Gotten daily turnout in a large field with three other horses without ever making a fuss. 
  • Learned to crosstie quietly enough to be trusted to be unsupervised long enough for me to go in and out of the tack room. 
  • Learned to stand quietly at the mounting block long enough for me to get on by myself.
  • Walked and trotted over ground poles individually, on a bending line, and in a row. 
  • Longed over small verticals with fill.
  • Walked in-hand through a creek, over a bridge, through giant lake-sized puddles, and over every small log on the property. 
  • Had his mane pulled.

most proud of this

He still has to learn about things like:
  • Standing still for the farrier. He weaves in the crossties, and while I've eradicated the frantic flinging himself back and forth behavior, he still shifts from side to side and weaves with his head. He doesn't like to hold his feet up for long because it throws off his dance jam, but ground manners are a huge deal for me so this is a priority. 
  • Leading at my pace. He's great to take out to the pasture, but just leading him around on adventures he wants to go and can get pretty rude about barging by you.
  • Cantering. Our indoor is long but narrow which makes it hard for him to balance. He's also lazy as shit so the second he has to make a turn he's like, "Yeah, super hard holding yourself upright, better just walk it out." If the weather got its shit together for two seconds, I'd take him to our outdoor to get the flow going.
  • Being left inside alone. I leave him in when I'm doing chores in the morning, and since everyone else goes out during the day he's all by himself while I finish sweeping and getting my stuff around. He stall walks, and while he's quit with the screaming and frantic stall running, he still walks something fucking awful. I'm not even sure this is something I can stop. Maybe he'll just get used to being left in alone for awhile part of his routine? Any thoughts here? I've never dealt with a stall walker or a horse that weaves before.
the reins will get longer when someone gets better about, you know, steering.

Overall though, he absorbs everything. From one day to the next he's held on to all his previous lessons and is ready to take on more. He responds well to corrections, and he's the biggest treat whore I've ever met. If you want something to stick, shove a peppermint down his throat.

grand champion of standing still now.

The reason I've kind of shoved everything at him all at once is that the next couple of weeks are going to be crazy for me. I'm flying out to Chicago for the next three days, and then I'm driving back out there Wednesday of next week and will be gone until Monday. I've known about both trips for awhile so I wanted him to know about the rules of his new life before he got abandoned for awhile.

grand champion of ground poles.

I think a little break will be good for him without being so long that he goes feral. It will give his body that much more time to let those big, thick racing muscles relax, and it will give his constantly whirling brain time to catch up and think everything over. He's been a picture perfect student so far, and I know he'll still be getting stuffed with treats while I'm gone. I hope when I get back into a normal routine in two weeks he'll have settled in even more.

"why are we still trotting? it's been longer than five minutes. i am les tired."

Short term, I'm really hoping we have the weather this weekend that I can get someone to go out on a trail ride with me before winter well and truly sets in. I don't think he's going to give me any problems whatsoever, but it will make me feel better to have a buddy along to bring the stress level down should he find something The Snoot does not approve of.

and maybe try some out of doors cantering since he is so very bad at it in the ring.

39 comments:

  1. eeeee i love all the pictures!! he looks like just such a good solid boy! and yay for making such good progress on all the "you are a normal horse you live a normal life now behave" type stuff! i can't wait to see how he continues to develop with your care!

    re: the stall walking and weaving, charlie's stall at the new barn has one of those racing doors that's quite tall but with a low U-shaped profile for him to stick his head out. he still shakes his head around in the same weaving rhythm, but his feet are basically stationary. so the stall door alone hasn't fully eradicated the problem (i'm not convinced that's actually possible) but it made a surprisingly huge difference.

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    1. He definitely makes things easy, at least under saddle!

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  2. Love this! I hope you get to take him out on the trails before you leave.

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    1. Me too! I so don't want to be stuck inside forever already.

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  3. He sounds like such a good boy!

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  4. Hey so while you're in Chicago and on a "teaching grey horses ground manners" kick....

    Anyways, I am digging hearing all the step by step of re education. I know people are split into "let them down" vs keep 'em busy and I am eagerly following along for when (read: in like 28 years probably) I end up with one of those things. Sounds like your method is working well so far!

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    1. She is a perfect angel, she needs no training in any department!

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  5. Sounds like HUGE progress for only one week! I'm still impressed that you are riding him already, much less cantering in a small indoor, Way to go!!!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHanoverian

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    1. He's so chill anyone could get on this kid.

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  6. He's just practicing so he can be on Dancing with the Stars hehehehe :) Can't wait to see how much he progresses over the next year!

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    1. Ugh, you're kicked off o DWTS, Opie. This is a dance free zone.

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  7. Wow, he’s totally an overachiever :) Also hoping that you’d can get out on a trail ride before you get hit with the winter we’ve already started over here

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  8. Can't believe it's been a week already!

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  9. He's such a cutie!
    RE: Stall walking, my old man has done it all his life. He *loves* his stall, but walks all night. The main thing we found helps is putting food in opposite corners, so he pauses when he gets there. His teff goes in one corner and his grain and lucerne in the other.

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    1. Fortunately he seems to only walk when he's by himself in the barn. He's getting to the point where he'll stop to snatch a mouthful of hay now where before it was just frantic running so maybe there's hope? I'm really not sure if it can even be stopped completely?

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  10. Routine is soooo helpful! Hopefully he remembers all his lessons while you're gone. Speaking of which, we're going to miss each other in Chicago by one day. Haha!

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    1. Dang! When are you going to be there?

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  11. This is awesome progress and damn he is so cute! It's crazy that it has been a week already. Am so happy you are making such good progress and he seems like he has a really good head on him. So awesome.

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    1. His cuteness helps make up for any naughtiness!

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  12. Gosh he is cute. I have two stall walkers. So far I've only learned to manage them, not stop them entirely, so I wish I could offer you some advice but so far if they want to walk they walk, unless you tie them and then they weave. My older one has settled down with a quieter atmosphere at home, and I made sure to stall her where she can see what she hears as much as possible. If she can't connect sounds with sight she gets anxious and walks, and gets much worse if, say, I take her bestie out and leave her in. Hopefully he chills out and the walking slows down!

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    1. Hmm, bummer, but kind of what I thought.

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  13. Fiction is/was a stall walker/weaver when I first got him. He grew out of it. The only time he does it now is during feeding time if he is in alone or if all the other horses go out before him. But he'll usually quiet down within a few hours. I think it's something Opie will probably relax with but might always be there to some degree.

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    1. I'm mostly worried about him walking the weight off so if he learns to at least chill about it I guess it won't be too bad?

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  14. You guys look like wood pair. I'm sure the weaving will subside. I love that bend for your hand (and I'm assuming a cookie). He looks really well put together!

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    1. It took him a few peppermints before figuring out he could eat them while I was on his back, but now he's a bendy pro.

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  15. I love his brain! You two are going to have SO MUCH fun together! Is it possible to steal a buddy to keep him company in the mornings? Or are you really just wanting him to learn how to be alone sometimes? I had a stall walker when I was a kid, but we never cured him of it. He walked whether or not he was alone but would stop for meals at least. It was pretty annoying when trainer made me tack him up in his stall.

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    1. When I have to groom or wash my boy in the wash bay, I literally just pivot with him haha! If I'm feeling particularly lazy, I just put the brush out and he'll walk past it and brush himself on the way.

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    2. Actually I could probably leave his whole field in while I ride him. I'd thought about just leaving one buddy in, but then that horse would be alone while I rode. I hold their hay until everyone is out anyway so no one gets shorted, so they just stand at the gate waiting anyway.

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  16. Sounds like a great approach re: inundate with experience and get him accustomed to routine then give him a bit to process. Great foresight on your part!

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    1. I really lucked out on finding him at just the right time to work with my schedule.

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  17. what Emma said. I have seen stall weavers get much better if they can get their head out (ie. making the weaving motions with their head but not their feet). I still think he is the cutest ever and he is my new internet crush. Keep on posting and safe travels! The world is insane :(

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    1. I'm such a control freak that even the head weaving annoys me, but I guess it's really not harming anything. Better his head than his feet!

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