When life finally settled down, I decided to start working the fillies. Pending weather, I would work with them every day, with the goal of getting Dixie under saddle and Roheryn driving. The methods for both were the same, but Dixie was older, and ready for more work.
I started by handling them each day, haltering, tying, grooming, introducing new objects. Both were good with this. I would take one out at a time, then put them back in their stall. This is where we ran into the first issue.
Dixie would refuse to go back in her stall. Since she was young and rather silly, my usual slap the leadline on the belly I would use with an older horse would not work. She would use that as an excuse to throw a temper tantrum, and since I was working them alone I wasn't interested in getting run over.
Dixie wasn't so sure about this "Work" idea.
She wasn't afraid of her stall, she ate in there every day, she just didn't want to do it and she didn't think I could make her do it. I have a feeling this little princess hasn't had to do a lot of things she didn't want to! So I turned her loose, and ran her out of the barn. I controlled her movements, back and forth in the pasture, hazing her away from the other horses, and showing her that yes, even when I didn't have a leadline on her, I could control where she went. At first there was a lot of bucking, and flinging of the head, but pretty soon she was coming up to me and asking to be caught, and taken in to her friends.
I caught her, and led her back in the barn. Nope, still wouldn't go in her stall. So I then put her out by herself in the side pasture, and ignored her while I worked Roheryn. The whole time I brushed and worked Roheryn (who was a perfect angel) Dixie banged the gate, pawed, called the other horses, and generally threw a fit. I waiting until she was standing quietly for a moment (reward the good behavior), then went and got her. I led her to her stall, she hesitated, then walked right in. I told her she was a good girl, scratched her, and took her halter off.
I did the same routine for a couple of days, both were fine. I then decided to take Dixie out to the round pen and start lunging. I tacked her with saddle and bridle (no reins). She refused at the gate to that field, but I got her going by back and forth movement. Halfway up the field she pulled back and threw a bit of a fit, but I got her going again. Then she threw a complete tantrum, rearing, pulling back, striking out. I got her stopped and quickly put the chain over her nose. When she tried again, I jerked the leadline and yelled, making her back up.
Her eyes were as big as saucers! I could tell no one had ever disciplined her like that. Once she was still, I calmly asked her to move forward again, but I was pretty wary of where her feet were. She tried twice more, got the same treatment, and we made it to the round pen. I unhooked her in the round pen, and once she realized she was free, I got quite a show.
I gave her a minute to blow and run, but then started working her in the pen. Controlling her direction, making her stop and reverse. I wasn't worried about slowing her down yet, just controlling the space. It took a while, but she finally started looking at me with ears up asking if she could stop. I would let her come to me, give her a scratch, then send her out again. She still wasn't settled down completely, but she was sweated, so I caught her and we walked back to the barn. She was quite mannerly. I untacked her, hosed her off, then went to put her in the stall and she balked again. Since I still had the lungeline handy, I just hooked her to that, ran the line to the back of the stall and tied it. I walked out and went to get the next horse. Once Dixie realize I was ignoring her, she walked right in the stall. It was at that moment I realized, she wasn't afraid of any of this, she was just being pissy! She didn't want to do it, and just wanted to throw a fit.
I took Roheryn out, led beautifully to the round pen, got in there and she just wanted to follow me, so since I was running out of daylight, we worked on walking, stopping, backing on command, then I took her back to the barn. No problems, she was bright, interested, and happy to be doing things.
Happy girl Roheryn.
Roheryn has a nice case of 'Me Too! - istis'. Anything she sees another horse do, she wants to do. It's how I got her accustomed to being hosed off. Since she is a Texas girl, water is for drinkin, not washin! But, I hosed Shadow and the other horses off and ignored her, and eventually she had to have the shower too. Now she loves water. Same with the clippers. Clipped everyone but her, then pulled her out to clip. The whole time her eyes were bright and ears up, she was getting to do what the other horses did.
This is a good method for training, let your seasoned horses show the greenies how it is done!
James Kofford at Dressage at Devon
1 week ago