Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teaching a young horse new tricks

You know the old saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks. How about teaching a young horse new tricks?? As I posted previously, I am training Harley on some new obstacles for trail classes at my local ranch horse shows. You would think that with all the trail riding I do with him that I would not need to school him on obstacles. Not true.... riding in the woods is one thing, put those same type obstacles in an arena and ole Harley sorta loses his mind.

ARHA (American Ranch Horse Association) rules state that for a trail course there are three required obstacles and three additional at judges discretion. The three required ones are working a gate, roping a steer head and loading in a stock trailer. I have the gate working down and even got him comfortable with a rope gate since sometimes the show grounds do not have a workable gate to use. Harley will generally load in most trailers now that we have worked through those issues. The roping of the steer head is and area we are working on. It is not counted against you if you in fact do not make the "catch", they are just looking to see if your horse is quiet when you make the loop and throw. Good thing since roping is not something I have ever done or practiced. That may have to change. Several folks have told me Harley would make a jam up heeling horse. But I digress.... Harley is actually fine with the swinging of the rope and it landing out in front of him, it is when I drop the coil after the throw. He acts like it is a thousand rattlesnakes down there trying to attack him.
So...... on the advice of my dear pony cousin Pony girl last evening after our riding session I got off and walked Harley with the rope dragging behind me. He was none to crazy about it at first but then he started trying to walk on it. I practiced throwing it in front of him and to the side of him and pulling it back to me. I had him walk over it and around it while it was on the ground. I don't think we made any great progress but I don't think we slid backwards any either. I guess it is something I just need to keep working on. Anybody with other suggestions fire away. Tonight is tackle the tarp night. Yes, out comes the big blue tarp to simulate a water crossing, we shall see what he thinks of it.

Happy trails......


Anonymous said...

Riding an obstacle course is not like any trail ride i have ever been on, but it is sure something that can show how much communication is needed between horse and rider. I think that most horses enjoy the challenge of a trail course, especially if they have a curious nature.

Mrs Mom said...

Howdy Cowgirl! Sounds like you and Harley are covering some ground there, and learning all kinds of new tricks. Impressive to say the least! ;)

Cant wait to hear how the next session went. This Trail Challenge stuff is wicked cool!

Pony Girl said...

Sounds like Harley just needs more time w/the rope. Rope, rope, rope, until he's so sick of it it doesn't phase him.
Or maybe he just has a huge snake phobia! ;)
Curious to hear how the tarp work goes. For some reason, as you might recall, my horse loves the tarp! He's a tarp boy! He'll stand there all day!