March 11, 2010

All Tacked Up!

The holidays and cold weather put off any further training with Rose, aside from our basic ground work exercises. Looking back on the time-line, I am wondering just what was it that we did from mid-December through January? Regardless, the sun started coming out at long last in February, and the days started to become a bit longer and more manageable. So, one nice relaxing day at the barn on Feb. 3rd (see original blog post here) I decided to put a bridle on Rose. It couldn't have gone better that first day. The next day I decided to do it again. This time she met me with a bit of resistance about taking the bit, but I won in the end. The third day, she decided to pull out all of the stops and stick her head completely up in the air beyond my reach. It is not often that I feel short, as I'm above average height, but when a 16.0h warmblood impersonates a giraffe, I feel about 4' tall. After a few more futile attempts at keeping her head down I employed the help of a very tall friend and in a matter of minutes she was able to get Rose to take the bit again. This time we repeated it over and over again until she no longer resisted at all. Since that day Rose has not once evaded the bridle.

Since bridling went relatively seamless, with no explosions, I decided to start putting a saddle on her. As we only do hunters and jumpers at our sweet little barn, there are no western saddles laying about to start her in. However, we were able to find a rather low end saddle that would not be missed were it to be rolled on, etc. So grabbing that handy saddle, a little 44" fleece girth, and a Navajo pad I slowly tacked her up. She just sniffed the saddle, watched me work, and thought about eating the grass that was beginning to once again grow outside of the barn doors. Calmly, I walked her down the isle and outside the barn doors and watched to see her reaction. Nothing. I lead her around a bit, working on our ground work, and then rewarded her with some hand grazing while she continued to wear her saddle. Once again, this couldn't have gone easier. A few days later the weather was nice enough to turn her out with the saddle on. I was armed with my camera this time, ready to snap an exciting photo of her kicking out or bucking. Nothing. I got the lovely photo you see above of her looking rather bored with the whole experience.

Since the initial bridling and saddling I continue to tack her up after every grooming session, regardless of any ground work that day or not. She is hand-walking from the bit beautifully, and I have abandoned the halter and lead rope that I initially placed the bridle over. I hope to begin longeing her in her tack soon, once I feel comfortable enough with her longeing abilities.

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