"I must not forget to thank the difficult horses, who made my life miserable, but were better teachers than the well-behaved school horses who raised no problems."
— Alois Podhaisky, Director of the Spanish Riding School (1939)I found that quote over at All Horse Stuff.
I don't know much, but I have learned this: there is no one, right, best way to work with a horse. They are no more one-size-fits-all than we humans. You have to figure out what works for you as a team, according to both of your abilities and sensibilities. Or what don't.
- I read about clicker training over at one of McKinna's blogs, where she posted a couple links to check out. Poco is very food-driven, so at first it seemed to make sense. But, Poco is also pushy, and tends to be a bit mouthy (let me count the posts ...). Clicker training would work for him, in the sense that food is a powerful incentive — Will Tap Dance For Food — but it would also, literally, feed his vices. I can see where this might work on some horses, but it's definitely not for this horse.
- I bought the Parelli "7 Games" DVD to play with Poco. No joke, my horse looked at me like, "are you f*cking kidding me?" (or, "you paid how much for that DVD?"). I did learn some useful things from the DVD, but as far as my horse finding it engaging, uh, not in the least.
- My suckiness at longeing could be the stuff of comedy legend. I don't have the human body dynamics of longeing right; it's me, not the horse. I have tried and failed to read my way through this one; I need to be taught by an actual human. Nita tried to show me once, but I guess I'm not a quick study in this particular area. In any event, get Poco in the round pen for ground work, and you'll get a look that clearly asks, "And we're doing this ... why?" He doesn't really like being ridden in the round pen, but he'll do it with little more than his usual amount of "what's in it for me?"
I'd still like to learn how to longe, if only to reaffirm that I am not abysmally dense. Until I do, I have to figure out other ways of dealing with issues where longeing might be an option. I want and need more riding lessons, but that is financially out of the question right now. I have to do what I can with what I have. And I'll be the better for it.
Jaz, being impeccably trained, needs no such silliness. Thanks to being raised from the age of 6 months by Heather and Nita, my "Little Man" is always a good, sweet boy. I still make him give me lessons in the round pen, which helps keep him humble, but it's for my sake, not his.
By the way, I had been noticing both horses (even Mr. Perfect) being really pushy and mouthy lately. At first I thought it was because I haven't been spending a lot of time with them. I discovered the reason quite by accident: none other than Mr. Fry! I had to have a Herd Behavior 101 talk with him, explaining why we can't play with the horsies like we play with the doggies. I still don't think he gets it. To him, all animals are just different incarnations of dogs.