Horses: Keeping Humans Humble Since the Dawn of Time

As Tesla and I were walking on the property earlier this week, making our way to the round pen, several folks asked us how our training was coming along - and I was enthusiastically positive - and then Tesla proceeded to have a melt-down when something spooked all the horses in the paddocks. (It was crazy windy). She got super pushy and in my space - even some rearing involved - definitely not acceptable, even if your "herd" is in utter panic.

I had recently found a longe cavesson secondhand, so we gave it a go yesterday. It is all leather and super padded and I was able to adjust it such that it fits her like a glove.

That crazy eye tho'

I normally longe her like this:

with the line looped through the inside bit ring, and snapped to the girth buckles, and with a side rein on the outside, 
(loose enough that the girls can stretch, but not so loose that they can't take up any contact). I like this set-up, because the side rein gives some stability on the outside, but you can control the tension on the inside (and give releases as needed).

But, a cavesson gives you brakes (good ones) and allows for quick and (if needed) firm corrections without pulling on the bit. 

Not a medieval torture device for horses

So, with a new tool in hand, I took Tesla into the arena where a good barn friend was riding her schoolmaster, so I had a chance to work through some "arena-traffic nerves" with Tesla. And I gotta say, having the right tool for the job was amazing. Tesla was very respectful of this new communication, and knowing I had good control, I could really insist she move forward, even when she thought passing by that cantering horse was a BAD IDEA. I made it very clear, actually the scariest thing in that arena is me ;)

Pretty much her expression the whole time LOL

We didn't work that long...maybe 15minutes or so, but I know we made some great progress, cause she was mentally exhausted (and completely relaxed) by the end. We went on a leisurely stroll around the property, including the scene of the previous tantrum, she was perfect (So of course she got stuffed with cookies and told how wonderful she is).

I can see the progression: she used to not be able to handle pressure, but now I can use pressure when needed and the hamster doesn't fall off the wheel ;) I am determined to help her conquer her fear of arena traffic this year! Trainer S. has some ideas we can try as well (including ground driving and the Porsche) Then we can start having some real fun!


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