So many new pictures to show… where to start… I know, with my superstar, Apocalipse, turning three in two months time. Now, let me be clear, I am not a fan of lounge work with young horses, or with any horses, for that matter, but it can be useful.
As young as he is, he is not supposed to do too much work at all, but he is old enough to be trained a little, mostly to learn signals and correct responses. I work with him five, ten min tops, asking him only to walk forward, walk past me, or trot past me. No pulling on the rope, he must respect a light touch. No stopping at random, he must continue until I stop him. No backing off, when I am telling him to go around me. Simple, easy to understand signals, and yet, quite challenging for a young man who has never submitted to anyone, ever before.
Apocalipse has been the king of the pasture since he was born on July the 18th 2010. Every one adored him then, everyone obeys him now. No one has ever said no to him, except for me, and his mother, who sadly died in 2011.
So here we are. Now, if I must be critical, I want him to relax much more, lower his head and use his back, instead of becoming flat, but that is the next step. First off, just respecting my signals is what I am prepared to settle for right now.
Here he is, saying no, backing off, testing if he can get away with it.
Now, a lot of people turn to face the horse when something like that happens, and to apply pressure on the hindquarters of the horse. The way I work, is with simple signals, using the horses own body language. When I want him to walk, I point to his shoulder, (here using the whip, not to hit, but to point, to extend my arm if he avoids me,) when I want him to walk past me, I turn and face my body in the direction I want him to go, showing him a clear way out.
It is very important to always show the horse a way out. If I want to pressure him, by pointing to his shoulder, and believe me, that is pressure, I must show him how to escape the pressure. All horses want to avoid pressure at all times. It is that simple.
So, when he backs off, I keep facing in the direction I want him to go, holding out my left arm, showing him an opening. With my right hand, I keep pressuring him until I get a response I can accept.
This is basic horsemanship. The horse knows what I am asking, he understand it easily, because that is how the horses move each other around. If you start trying to force the horse forward by striking at its hindquarters with the whip, like most people do, it will turn to face you. It is the polite thing to do, when someone is biting your ass. Turn to face them. Protect yourself.
As you can see, at first, Apocalipse tries to ignore me and keep on backing off. I don’t play along. This training is about me asking him to do something, not about him making me do something. So, very simply, I just keep asking him to walk past me, until he does. It doesn’t matter if he jumps forward, or overreacts, as long as I get a response I can accept in the end. As soon as he does respond correctly, or somewhere near it, I back off, and release the pressure. (Again, speaking of pressure, I don’t touch him. With a young, unspoiled, sensitive horse, you shouldn’t have to.)
And here we are, my gorgeous young man, relaxing, lowering his head, doing just what I really wanted in a very short amount of time.
Needless to say, I am so in love with this horse, you will have to excuse me. So beautiful, so perfect, so clever, so… Okay I will stop now. But oh my, look at him!
And no, I am not riding him this year, like it is custom. He is not grown up yet, not even close. His body is still growing, which is why it is very important to not train him for long, in a small circle, because it will strain his unfinished skeleton. It’s a matter of balance, with young horses, and of knowing when to stop asking for more.
So, that’s it for now, I guess the other pictures will have to wait, or this is going to be a very long post.