Jasper and I seem to have gotten over that hump that had me so frustrated. He is paying attention to me more and longeing is not an ordeal. It still takes a bit for him to muster up a trot for me – but I am working on it. He is a draft, after all!
To make things interesting for Jasper instead of endless longeing, I tried some games yesterday with Jasper that came with this months Parelli dvd.
1. Push a ball
On a longe line, the goal is to get the horse to solve a puzzle, the puzzle being to push the ball. I longed Jasper in the round pen with the ball against the wall. I got him to stop as close to the ball as possible, if he went past it, turn him around and try again. At first he wanted to smell manure, and not pay any attention to the ball. Then he sniffed it. And I eventually got him to kick it for several steps. Sometimes he would push it with his nose.
He was pretty good! Unfortunately Parellis do not take ~erm~ draft horses into account or the fact that they would rather crush through something like godzilla, than actually play with it. Jasper stepped on the ball, tripped – and just kept on going. I was expecting the ball to go <POOF> but amazingly, it didn’t!
2. Games With a Gate
Longeing a horse in a circle, past an open gate. This was a good test for me AND for Jasper because it helped with my timing for keeping him going and for Jasper to keep him focused on me and what I am asking him to do. I tried this in the round pen to start and left the door open. At a walk, I started from the other end and had him head in a circle towards the door and supposedly past it. At first he headed straight for the door and was planning to keep on going to that nice grass! He did knock me a little off balance but I brought him back in and asked for the circle again. He would walk a bit, then try to turn around and head for the door again! Uh uh, buddy. This got a lot of rope swinging to stop him from turning around and continue going. Well, he was going in the right direction now, but now he tried to cut across the middle as a shortcut to the door! More stick waving to get him OUT of my space and back on the circle. I stopped him near the open door and just had him stand there, until he focused back on me.
It took some trial and error but I eventually got him to calmly walk past the door on the longe line without pulling. Good boy!
3. The Pinky Test
Lead your horse around with only your pinky on his halter. It’s not about the pinky – it’s about how light your horse can be.
I would not have done with Jasper if I was worried I was going to lose my finger! We have worked a lot on leading, backing up, turning both directions. Turning into him into a clockwise circle used to make him very defensive and he would throw his head up. Now he anticipates me, and turns accordingly and lightly. It’s a great feeling! He can still be a bit sluggish so I could not work up to a trot. I am going to work on that on a 12 foot lead.
All in all he did great and PAID ATTENTION! Since he was doing so well, I thought I would throw the bridle on him with the bit and reins attached and work on some turning with the reins from the ground. This was only the second time I had worked with him with the reins attached to the bridle.
I lightly pulled one rein while standing at the side of Jasper to get him to do some lateral flexion on each side. I had been working on this with Jasper at liberty and he had picked it up in a snap. I was worried he would be resistant with the reins and bit in his mouth – but he was amazingly light! With a slight bit of pressure on his mouth, he would turn his head all the way in to his belly on either side.
It was a little hard to take pictures while doing this!
I only did this for about 5 or 6 minutes, then took the bridle off, and he got a big hug and a cookie and happily got to graze on some grass!