Back in the Saddle

Yesterday I got both Murphy and Luke out for their first ride of the season. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos to prove that I worked with my horses so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I haven’t figured out yet how to take pictures of myself lunging or riding the horses. Maybe I can get my husband to take photos next time.

I haven’t ridden either horse since September of last year, so I didn’t think I’d be getting into the saddle. I was planning on saddling them up and doing some ground work, but it was way too tempting. Once I’ve gone through all the work of putting saddles on, I can’t resist climbing on board.

The ring was still pretty wet. Even where it looked dry, the horses footprints filled up with water. So I didn’t want to run Luke and Murphy around and tear up the ring. I just had them do a few trotting circles on the lunge line. Then in hand I had them do some turns on the forehand and haunches, back up, and had them flex and give to the rein. Then I mounted up and just walked them around doing the same sorts of things until I felt them relax. 

Pretty good for the first day out. The boys were a little nervous at times, but no bucking or even hissy fits. I’ll have to work gradually with them as they are way out of shape.  

Today I took Java for a walk in the park. She’s real good on leash until we come upon other dog walkers or non-dog walkers. Java gets a wee bit over excited. She wants to meet and play with everyone in a bad way. In her enthusiasm, she lunges at people and dogs until she reaches the end of her leash (which I’ve already shortened to heeling length), and flips over backwards. It’s soooo embarrassing.

I’m not embarrassed…

Not sure how to work on this one. I need some friends like Cesar Millan (Dog Whisperer) has to walk their dogs past mine several times until she learns to calmly walk on by other dogs and people. 

I hate to pay for another obedience class just to work on this, although I’m sure we could use some work on other things as well, but I haven’t been that impressed with training classes I’ve enrolled in in the past as they spend most of the time on things we’ve already mastered.

The walking paths were for the most part ice and snow free. The river is pretty clear of ice too.

Although some ice flows are only in the early stages of breaking up. 

Right now, the wind is shaking the bejeebus out of the trees and it’s supposed to start raining later this evening so I’ll need to bring the horses in. 

The weekend went by way too fast. It always does.

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  1. I trained my dog to avoid that “end of the leash flip” thing by saying “hold it” every time right before he got choked by it. He eventually learned to heed the warning.

  2. So excited that you were finally able to comment! Not sure if it’s any of my tweaks or just that the stars were aligned just right. As for the dog flip thing, your dog may be brighter than mine. We’ll keep working on it. Hopefully, she’ll start to put two and two together.

  3. Pseudosu beat me to the comment I was going to make! We taught Clara to understand “on leash” to mean “you’re on leash, don’t forget it ad flip yourself, you big silly!” Try working on teaching whatever phrase or word you prefer first when she’s on leash, but nowhere near anyone exciting. Stand around, being super boring, with her on leash. When she goes off and sniffs and reaches almost to the end of the leash, say your cue word/phrase. Work up to doing this while moving, when she sees someone mildly exciting (like someone she lives with or sees frequently?), etc. Once you’ve repeated this a million times (OK, exaggerating here, but you know what I mean….it’s boring, so it’ll feel like a million times to you!) away from the Exciting Park situation, take her there and give her the cue word/phrase just before she reaches the end of the leash. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It’ll eventually get thru the noggin. There will still be occasional flips (ask Clara Bow!!), but eventually she’ll get used to it and keep from flipping. With Clara Bow, we started rewarding her by tossing a treat to her anytime she heard the cue and moved a little closer to us, then worked up to randomly reinforcing the act with only an occasional treat. She’s still inclined to go out near the end of her leash with excitement, but no embarassing flipping now!

  4. Good to hear someone else going through the same thing. We have 2 dogs – the Retriever is totally calm when we see other dogs, but Jessie the Lab-Cross freaks out.

    Lately we’ve been trying cheese spread. ie saying ‘Leave’ and then giving her a squirt if she does.

    Yesterday it didn’t work. I got cheese spread all over my brown cord Boden coat, Georgie’s eye and Jessie’s head! Oh well . . . 🙂

  5. Hillary – Yes, I think this is a common problem. I thought since Java did such a good job heeling in her obedience class when she was only 6 months old that we had it down. But it seems to be something you have to keep reinforcing until the dog “matures” and really gets it. Hope your coat comes clean!

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