Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Groundwork Boot Camp

Quest is a fast learner- it's good because she's easy to teach but bad because it's just as easy to undo everything that was taught. In order for us to stay safe though, I need her absolute trust in me to make decisions for us. As I've spent more time with Quest, I know she is sensitive but that opens her up for bonding deeply if I prove myself to be a consistent and fair leader. That means dealing with what caused her meltdown involves work on her manners but also me being even more attentive to how I was communicating with my body.

After doing some thinking and reading, I made a few changes to the way I did groundwork last night and I'm happy to say I like what I see so far. I first changed out the tack I was using- switching her nylon halter for a rope halter with knots. It turned out to be essential for our success yesterday.

We started with the very basics; standing still, nose forward at all times, attention on me. A was working with Smokey in the arena so I very purposefully positioned ourselves with Quest's back facing them. I then told her to stand and let the lead rope hang slack between us. Any time her nose pointed anywhere but forward I wiggled the rope. Quest caught on quickly and there was licking and chewing. Good girl. After letting her process, I gave release and we walked to another spot in the arena and did it all over again. Each time I increased the distance a bit more. We then worked on getting her to be more attentive to my personal space when led. She tends to crowd me when we stop so I worked on being more vigorous with my back up. This is something we'll need more work on.

Finally we did some lunging; started off simple with just sending out and moving at a walk. I kept her on a smaller circle at first to work on maintaining pressure and keeping Quest focused on me instead of hanging out at the end of the line. As for myself I focused on minimal feet moving and maintaining my footprints in a 2 foot area. If Quest drifted too close, I held my ground and twirled the end of the lead rope at her shoulder to send her back out. When she stayed consistent at the walk in a larger circle, we moved into the trot and then finally canter. Repeated all in both directions. At first she was a little sticky but once she got steady, I changed things up with tons of transitions. Quest totally locked onto me, that inner ear was completely focused on my every move. So I clucked, I kissed, I said walk. She trotted, she cantered, she walked...on the dime. I was so pleased- it was the first time I felt that in tune with her too. We ended the night with a little riding just at a walk and trot because it was raining/misting so half the arena was sopping wet and I didn't want to chance cantering in questionable footing.

I'm planning to resume lessons since it's been almost a month since my last one. I don't ride badly but I think it's only fair that I keep improving myself to be a better rider for Quest's sake.

Fooling around. Quest is not as amused.


  1. What a great start you two are having. Trails will be up in short order if this trend keeps up!