Days 33-39 – Phil’s Courage’s Journal

The ground work is reinforced every day whether it is actual moving Phil’s feet in the round pen or by simply leading him from pasture to barn. I try to be creative and my have him serpentine or walk backwards while going from barn to pasture.

In the arena I have been focusing on softening and lateral flexion at walk and trot. Phil and I have been bending around the barrels, trees and every single corner in the arena. Tuesday Phil did have a mini meltdown and wanted to drift to the gate. I held him steady and just kept riding. When Phil became ugly I shouted a firm” NO” and kept the outside leg pressure on until he figured out his own release. As long as I had control of his nose and feet he could not rear, buck, or bolt. He did briefly think about rearing and I kept him to task. Contrary to popular belief if your horse is giving you a warning (they always do) instead of stopping their motion, push them into the motion by switching directions every two-three steps, ask for a roll back, drive them into a tight circle, etc . Remember stopping their feet is a reward. By stopping them you are allowing them to collect and thus have more power to buck, rear, bolt, etc. Instead, get control of their nose using the built in foundation of lateral flexion, keep the head up, and disengage the hindquarters. A horse cannot buck if his hindend is disengaged. A horse cannot rear if his feet are in motion. A horse cannot bolt if you control his nose. These are just basic theories of physics. I let Phil work through his mini tantrum while continuing to bend around the barrels until he softened in my hands. I released the reins and let him rest. After the meltdown, Phil was a soft, relaxed horse and I even had to check him with halt halts every once in a while. His work ethic was renewed.