Last year, I set monthly goals in an attempt to focus on little things. Some of them got done, a lot of them didn’t – at least, not at the time. Here’s the updated version for 2016.
- Off-side mounting. This was something we worked on inconsistently in 2015 through March or so. It has been partly a rider problem (I’m supposed to move how?) and partly a horse problem (getting on from the left is correct, let me fix it).
In January this year, I decided we should start working on it again. There’s now a (sturdy) mounting block right by my stall. It’s tall enough I can swing up bareback easily. I led her up to it on the right and hopped right up. Huh. Fetti’s default behavior is still to line up on the left if not requested otherwise, but so long as she gets her cookie and I line her up correctly, right-side mounting is not really a horse problem anymore. It may or may not still be a rider problem when the saddle gets added back into the equation.
This stays on the list for 2016. I want this to be solid.
2. Standing still for mounting. I should be clear: she’s never been terrible, she’s just never been great and I didn’t insist on it. Again, we worked on this inconsistently for part of the year, then fairly consistently for (I think?) the second half of the year. We did really terribly for my first mount at Cuneo in September (pony wouldn’t line up, rider couldn’t get balanced, pony wouldn’t stand still, rider lacked confidence). Otherwise, though, cookie-training has worked spectacularly.
3. Convincing the pony to pee on the trail/under saddle. This is another cookie-training item. I believe it was 2014 where I was able to shape this behavior: at home, I’d put her in her stall post-ride, walk away to get her grain, and as soon as I’d get to the tack room she’d go over to pee. I treat-rewarded that where I could in an attempt to capture the behavior as something that she was allowed and even supposed to do around humans. In 2015, we got to the point where she fairly reliably pees in the river on the way home. I dutifully gave her cookies and praise every time.
In the past few months, I’ve stepped it up a notch: I expect her to pee in the outside of her paddock (for a cookie, naturally) before she gets her post-ride grain. The first few times I asked for this it was a several-minute process. Now, sometimes it’s one circle before she remembers what she’s being asked.
In February she peed under-saddle in one of our walking-around-barn bareback jaunts. I was boggled and dutifully gave her the (expected) cookie. Smart mare! She also followed the gelding’s lead on a recent trail ride: he stopped and went before all the riders got on, she stopped right after and went as well. Gooood pony.
Stays on the list for 2016. May stay on the list indefinitely. This has been a major issue in the past and getting it resolved would be excellent.
4. Maintain Fetti’s hooves between trims. I did passably well at this in 2015. I need to do better in 2016.
4b. New for 2016: aim for at least monthly training rides with boots!
As life permits:
- make it to one LD and one 50. Ideally complete both. (I don’t currently have any clue what rides those will be or how we’ll be getting there, which does complicate things.)
- teach Fetti to back out of a slant-load trailer
- once-quarterly lessons
- financially, start saving for a truck/trailer. It’s unlikely to happen this year or even next year, but this is a Big Deal for me. I need to get my act together to make it a future possibility.