Monday, October 3, 2011

Waiting... and Planning :-P

Because Penny currently lives 8 hours away, and I won't really get to work with her on the daily until December (gasp), I've had a lot of time to think about what I want to do with her and how to accomplish those goals.

After all, she's very smart and very sassy :-P

Here's what I've come up with so far as a general guideline of what I'd like to accomplish with her before next summer:

This fall (October-End of November):
- Let her decompress and get used to her new barn
- Help her to continue to gain weight and condition
- Get her feet in better condition with at least two more good barefoot trims
- Start her on BioFlax
- Work on groundwork, continue the work April (her current trainer) has been doing with her (loading, tying, clipping, feet, desensitizing, etc)
- Hand walk her around (and possibly off) the property to build confidence and condition.
- Introduce her to the clicker and aim to shape at least one behavior (however small) per session. Start with stretches and stuff (the clicker is great for that kind of thing!)

This Winter (December-February... once I'm back in town and can see her often):
- Teach her how to lunge, with the goal of having her be able to W/T/C and halt obediently on voice commands, both directions.
- Possibly teach her to ground drive (I may be taking some ground driving lessons soon... I'll keep y'all posted!)
- Introduce her to the bridle, work up to being able to use it while lunging and ground driving ;)
- Introduce her to the saddle (possibly both English and Western), get her to the point where it doesn't bother her at all. I want all this stuff to be really boring for her!
- Continue with ground work and desensitization to scary stuff (tarps flapping, tupperware, umbrellas, etc).
- Continue with clicker training, maybe work on some tricks!

This Spring (March-May... we should be having fun by now!)
- Keep up with the lunging and ground work. If I haven't already, introduce side reins and ground poles/cavaletti
- Do some in-hand trail stuff
- Trailer out someplace, have a positive experience.
- Bathe her for the first time (if I don't get to it this fall).
- If everything is going well, start riding her! Establish basic manners under saddle, start us both on the path to getting in "riding shape."
- Start teaching her the basics of how to carry herself properly, bending, contact, etc.
- Get "out of the arena" fairly quickly and start doing short rides around the property (and possibly off, depending on how quiet she is and if we can find a buddy).

So.... how does this look? It's been a long time since I did any kind of horse training project, especially one of this magnitude. How does the pacing look? I am aiming for a plan that pushes us, but that isn't impossible (or too easy). Is there anything I should add or take out? Any skills I'm missing that she really should know in this time frame?


  1. It looks like a great schedule. Very easy, lets you take things slow and find out what her issues are going to be.

    Can't wait to see her again!

  2. I think it looks good too although maybe a bit too slow. It really just depends on how well she comes along and if she accepts things pretty easily. I think both lunging and ground driving are great ideas and I would definitely make sure she is sold in those things before moving on. It will be fun to see how closely you are able to stick with this schedule or how much it might vary.

  3. I agree that lunging and ground driving are great for solid basics. I would also play it by ear - take it at the pace where you're progressing, but always make sure that she doesn't feel over pressured and feels comfortable with what you're asking. If there's a hesitation, take the time you need to help her get through it and understand, and don't worry if you have to slow your schedule down. I can't wait to see how everything turns out for you guys!

  4. Wow, you really do have a bit of time on your hands for planning!! :)

    This all reads well, but don't be afraid to move her along faster if she is hungry for more. Be wary of it being too boring, a clever horse will sometimes want to spice things up themselves if they are bored!!