May 2008

Jasper Cantering Nicely

I should have probably just stayed in bed yesterday. I get to the ranch for my lesson and head for the port-a-potty for a quick bathroom break. Unzip my drawers and hear ‘ker-plunk’. Wha? Something fell out of my pocket.
I look down and there is MY PHONE. There WAS my phone to be precise because all that was left were a few bubbles as it quickly sank – I DROPPED MY CELL PHONE IN THE PORT-A-POTTY! GAH!
(Apologies for this if you are close to dinnertime)

No cell phone is worth that much!

To top it off Jasper was in a strange mood and would not listen to direction. He was pulling on the lunge line and dragging me all over with the ground driving. The complete opposite of our perfect day on Monday. Perhaps he was feeling my discombobulated state!

Ah well, here is a nice clip of Jasper from last week cantering nicely on the longe.


And a mani/pedi, shampoo and cut…okay, just kidding there – that’s what I want!

This clip is pretty cute, his lower lip trembles when he is relaxing, he kind of goes from not sure in the clip to lip quivering, back to not sure…






Jasper DID get a massage last week. He has had a knot by his left shoulder that has not gone away. Michelle noticed it first and felt it could have been the reason he was reluctant to go in that direction. It felt like a small twig was stuck under his skin – about 5 cm long, thin – and tough. Something needed to be done.


Kat Ripley is a L/SAMP. I had no idea what this was, so I asked. It stands for ‘Large/Small Animal Massage Practitioner’. She has been doing work on an older rescue mare at the ranch where I board Jasper so I asked her to look at Jasper and made an appointment.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, Jasper seemed a little wary of the whole thing, but at certain parts he would lower his head and his lower lip would quiver.

Towards the end he went into a 2 minute yawn fest. He definitely enjoyed some of it!

Kat really worked on his knot. Just like when a human is getting a massage, it’s a little uncomfortable when they are working on that knot – but its worth it!

He loved the work around his rear and he promptly pooped when Kat was working on it. She mentioned that horses commonly do that, or pass gas when they are getting massage – – gee, I don’t envy THAT part of the job!

Well, 3 days after his massage, I checked the area with the knot, or I should say the area where the knot USED to be. It was totally gone. I’m so glad. We then had the best session we have ever had.

Don’t you love those times when everything just goes perfect – and nobody witnessed it except you?!?! 


A while ago, I posted about starting to ground drive Jasper. It did not go well. He kept wanting to turn around and face me. Apparently this is a common problem from what I am reading on other blogs.
For awhile we went back to longeing. Jasper needed to learn forward command better, thus the tough love remedy for awhile there.
Since then, it’s been like a lightbulb has gone off in his head. His attitude is better, he doesn’t get so defensive about moving forward and he tests me much less than he used to.
On the longe he now knows:

  • Walk, trot and just added canter into the mix.
  • Turning both directions at walk.
  • Whoa – he stops on a dime at walk, trot and even canter.

With this positive progress we started back on ground driving and it is going much better the second time around. We started with only one line attached to him looped through the surcingle – no bridle yet, just a nylon halter.


For now this seemed to be less threatening for him. Jasper, being a dominant personality, has had a real hard time with having his head moved around – when it’s not his idea – lol.
So for the last month or so, I’ve worked on lateral flexions from the ground. I remember when I could not even get him to turn his head an inch towards me, well, I used cookies held at the girth area and it worked wonders! Gradually I reduced the cookies. I can now easily guide his head around to both sides.



The biggest thing I noticed with starting up the ground driving again, is that he is much less scared than he was previously. We worked up to moving behind him. I would start at his hip and walk around with him, eventually dropping back behind him. There were stops and starts, I would cluck him on or twirl the rope and rather than getting in defensive mode, he would move forward.
Things were going well, so we moved up to 2 lines. He now stops without turning to face us.

I think it had a lot to do with his confidence. He was a little fearful about not seeing something going on behind him. Boosting his confidence by taking a step back, adding in some steps, has worked wonders. It’s a great feeling to see your horse really try! 


We started working on turning around with one line, which took him a minute to understand what we wanted but he eventually got it!




Eventually moving to turning across the arena on both lines: