Multi-tasking to the Max

I signed up for a lesson to help address Tesla's arena shyness, which is the last big obstacle keeping us from really moving forward.  The night before two barn-mates were working their horses, so I did a lot of hand-walking around the arena with Tess, and liberal dispension of treats: She was the best she had been and it was great preparation for our lesson.

Trainer S. rode Porsche, and test-rode the Schleese (to suss out any fit/balance issues), and I had Tesla in hand :) Multi-tasking to the Max.

We discussed how and when the problem crops up. Tesla is better when the horse traffic is at a walk: she tends to balk when the other horse has more speed. She always does better when I am right next to her, as compared to being "all alone" at the end of the longe line or being ridden. She does better when I am between her and the other horse, or there is a visual barrier (fence/jump,etc.) between her and the other horse. 

So I walked Tesla in circles, while Trainer S. worked Porsche around us to desensitize her. There was a con-current lesson in the arena, so we didn't end up doing any longing (next time, without the security blanket walking next to her!) First we played some walking/following games, then we walked side by side. We let her see everything with both eyes (even the crazy one LOL). Then Trainer S. had us walk in a circle and she did walk and trot coming towards us. Tesla had a few moments. She tends to balk and ball up - not a good (or safe) feeling if you are riding her. She was tense about it first, but then really settled, even when the lesson horse trotted by.

We then played some games to help Tess deal with feeling claustrophobic. (Yes, seriously she thinks she is a Giantess ;)  Trainer S. fed her peanuts while mounted (Porsche was such a good egg about it) and that took all of 5 seconds before Tesla wasn't weirded out anymore by people on horses snack dispensers on stilts. Such a simple thing, but honestly you need a bombproof packer to do it from (and it is something I couldn't have done alone!) Ponying was also recommended, but as the property is not fully fenced, there isn't really a safe place to do it (also pretty sure some jealousy issues would crop up - Tess was already very protective of her personal snack dispenser)

The other game we played was to send her forward between two blue jump cubes, which we gradually moved closer and closer together.  This game was very similar to the ground work we do on a regular basis, and so Tess picked it up fast, and was enthusiastic about playing. Trainer S. commented how fun it was to see that side of Tesla, the horse who isn't afraid, but knows what is wanted and is delighted, excited and confident she has the correct answer, and does the thing with the "Look at me! I do this" attitude :) This actually IS who she is - the scaredy-stuff is just figuring out what small training hole I need to plug....

Part of the issue is that in installing the "Whoa" with the cavesson (cause she would blow off my requests for down-transitions) I overshot the mark, and now the Gas pedal is a bit sticky. My homework is to re-install the "Go" and make sure she moves off from my arm gestures (she already does in the round pen) in a prompt manner. Then I need to practice this all around the property, at all times, and/or when I'm hand-walking her in the arena. 

One the Go button is fully operational - we will ground drive her with Porsche going in circles around us, then the next step would be to do it with a more unfamiliar horse, then finally, with me riding :)

This little gem was a complete rockstar!

There was also a verdict on the saddle, but you'll have to wait until the next post ;)


  1. it sounds like a really creative solution to the problem.


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