Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Scary Gravel and Related Monsters

This is not technically from my WS days, but the blog was looking a little empty, and I know those who know Colby will appreciate this one from a couple yrs ago :) Enjoy!


So I knew I'd be in for a ride just cause it was morning. It's always a battle when I ride him early in the morning. But I will admit I was a little dismayed when our 15 min drama over getting up the driveway resulted both in hitting the electric fence on one side (it wasn't on - I almost wish it had been) and sliding into the ditch on the other. He certainly does have good balance I finally get him past the scary-pile-of-gravel (both piles) which have been there for weeks now (more time for the monsters to grow) and went out to the hay field where we had similar dramas over the Monster-Housing-Tree, the Horse-Beating-Stick, and the very scary Yellow Rope of Caution (ask Nicole someday about the yellow rope of caution -- that's a long silly story all on it's own, originating from Checkmate). However, what Colby has yet to learn is that I'm very patient and reasonably fit and am willing to simply wait till he gets over it. So we trotted around and around and around. N when that got boring we cantered/galloped around and around and around. Every couple laps we'd change direction and the game would start all over. I figured I'd won when he would both canter around both dirs on a loose rein w/ no shying and trot around both dirs (the L was WAAAYYY more scary than the R all day) nicely on the bit.

Ok so horse has worked, you go home right? Well not so much -- really I figured he had only just warmed up to the point where we could work. Even if it DID take an excessive amount of time to get there. So I took him to the back field -- well he shied at the tiny amount gravel on the driveway... Then we're trotting up the hill (dancing around shying at stuff again) and he quits and spins at a place where the grass is . . . BROWN. Horror of horrors. So I decided that by the end of the day he was going to walk over every terrain change I could find. We trotted around the giant hill a few times till he was doing that properly n then I figured it was time to attempt the behaviour modification. Well you're not new here -- you can well imagine Colby's reaction to that...

I figured gravel was the really big issue (cause honestly, I'm sick of the driveway attitude). So where's there gravel? Well there's a nice flat section all around the coffin ditch.... OMG you should've seen Colby's reaction. Walked him up to it, making it VERY clear that we weren't going anywhere near the ditch (he wasn't even vaguely pointed at it). Stop, snort, spin, bolt. Rinse and repeat. Ad naseum. Finally got him to put ONE foot on it and he lost it -- grabbed the bit and bolted. Had to use a pulley rein which I don't think I've done on him in least two years. I think only once ever and that was the first year I was riding him. So turn him around n back to the ditch we go. So this time I think he sort of gave up -- put one foot on and then jumped over it (fine, close enough, big pats 'you're a star' etc etc). We walk around the little bush and this time both front feet actually touch the gravel. More big pats. Next time he walked over it. Beautiful. Circle the other way to try and walk over the other side. Repeat the entire paragraph. But faster and w/o nearly as much dramatics. But man can your pony spin. Sheesh. So now he'll walk over both sides, both directions, and do little circles around the ditch. So last attempt is to get him to walk over the gravel alongside the ditch. Waaaayyy less drama this time, mostly just for form's sake. So with all that established, we go over the gravel then trot up and around the hill just to free up his little brain, then come back to it at a TROT. ooohhhh scary. We've been away for a good min and a half, the gravel might've grown monsters... nah -- he was good. Trotted over it, went up around the jump (first part of the coffin) and came back and trotted over the other side. Changed dir and picked up a canter and the same thing. Ok so ditch gravel fear conquered. (I did NOT think this would be the appropriate day to introduce the ditch :).

Done right? Mission accomplished. Go home... Not so much. There's LOTS of gravel on the property n I was really not amused w/ the driveway attitude. So I walk up the driveway beside the bank and he steps on the gravel there np (that he had shied at on the way down). Ok progress. Figure I'll go school the gravel at the top of the steps -- but as I turned I realized there's a great pile of it right there! That I'd completely forgotten about. N it's so wide it's hard to evade, even for Colby Stop. Snort. Huff n puff n blow the house down... But eventually he took one step on... N got lots of pats. N eventually he walked across. N got lots of pats. N then I got him to step on w/ all four feet and just stand there. He wasn't too sure about that (it might open up and swallow him after all) but he did it. Then we went for a trot around the field to clear his little brain and repeated. This time when he stopped I let him eat the lone tiny puff of grass to grow in the gravel. Hey maybe this gravel stuff isn't so bad Walk through it both directions. Good to go. Went up to the top of the stairs. NO hesitation at all there.. Walks n trots across it all directions np.
You'll be pleased to know that w/ all the scary gravel to worry about, he couldn't care less about the cows playing and watching this.


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