Dino’s First Road Trip

 free walk 
My ADHD 4 year old Dinosaur finally went on his first real road trip to PVRA! Here is the good, the bad and the ugly of today’s journey:

The Good

Dino is excellent in the trailer. He loads and unloads like a dream- all on command. He is still a bit nervous on the ride, but he is eating, so that is good. 

I am not sure where to classify this next event, but I think it is a positive sign.  While hand walking Dino in the dressage court, we made it up the middle to C when Dino decided to drop and roll. He left me there holding the other end of the lead rope not exactly sure what was happening. Maybe he isn’t too nervous after all!

The Bad

Actually Dino wasn’t bad at all, but let’s just say he needs more travelling experience before I show him. He did what every young horse does- he looked at EVERYTHING! His ADHD was through the roof. When he doesn’t pay attention, he either over-reacts or under-reacts to commands.  I don’t take it personally.  He even does this with the flies. He ignores them for awhile and then kicks out at them in frustration. 

The Ugly:

Maybe this is more sad than ugly….. But Dino thinks that every horse he sees is there soley to come play with him. If a horse even walks near him, he gets so excited. His head goes up. He dances. He calls. And then watches them intently until they are out of sight. (it’s like taking a dog to a dog park and then making them stay on a leash- kind of sad). This is how Dino was around the barn when he was two, and he has mostly grown out of it at home.   I wonder how long it will take until Dino realizes that no one is coming over to play? Poor Dino. 

Baby Dino Learning Half Pass

Baby Dino is growing up and beginning to learn some big boy dressage movements! Dino is still 3 (4 next month!), and spent most of the year riding-wise just goofing around hacking in a relaxed frame. But, his young age hasn’t stopped us from working on some upper level movements. We just do them in-hand!

The half-pass builds on the very basic lateral movements that baby Dino began learning in-hand as a 2 year old. Dino knows how to perform haunches-in and shoulder-in from my touch. This was then used to build the side pass. When Dino had these movements down, the half pass, was the next logical progression.

Half pass is a forward and sideways movement where the horse is bent in the direction of travel and around your inside leg. Although this sounds similar to the side pass, it is a much more difficult gymnastic for the horse to perform. It is a great exercise to teach in-hand as there is no weight of the rider to influence the horse’s balance. The horse is free to figure it out himself.

Dino picked this up fairly easily at the walk and is progressing to the trot.  He still has his 3 year old moments, but he really does try. You can see his concentration in the pictures below. Gotta Love the Dino!!

On the Road to Passage

Dino has graduated from Spanish Trot at Liberty to attempting Spanish Trot under saddle, and he is even trying a few passage steps! If you are wondering how a horse with 5 months under saddle can begin thinking about passage, remember, I started this training a year ago. Until now, all of the Spanish Walk/Trot/Passage training was performed without a rider. It took months of slow work to get the first few steps under saddle. Even now, it will take much longer to shape this into Dino’s final passage. He still needs to learn to take even steps, collect and shift more weight to the hind end, but you can already see that his passage will have power and impulsion. The collection and sitting will come slowly as Dino gets stronger. For now, Dino does mostly long and low work to develop his back muscles. We usually only school at most 4 steps in a row of Spanish trot/passage. I just threw a few more in for the video, but clearly he isn’t ready for more than a few steps.

The benefits of teaching passage through the Spanish trot is that:

  1. You can use clicker training the entire time
  2. It is less stressful/easier for the horse to understand than some of the other pressure/release techniques
  3. When completed, you will have a horse that can passage easily and will LOVE doing it
  4. You can start the passage much earlier in the training and take your time
  5. Your horse will also be able to passage at liberty (which is a pretty cool thing)

The downside of clicker training a passage:

  1. It still takes a long time to train (plan on a year from starting the Spanish walk to the first Passage steps under saddle)

The video below shows Dino just starting to think about passage. I wanted get this video to show some intermediary steps on the road to passage, so you can see what it looks like….warts and all!


Dino is Trail AND Kid Friendly

Kels cantering Dino
Kels &  Dino

I always hoped that one day Kelsey could ride Tucson (my previous horse), I figured when he was in his 20’s and she was in her early teens, he would calm down enough for a kid to ride him. Well, he never did get “kid friendly.” So, that dream probably never was going to come true. That is why I am so happy to see that Dino (Wiley) is already kid friendly, and he is only 3!  Kels can walk, trot and canter him without any issues. I’m not sure who I am more proud of…Kels or Dino, but the two of them make me very happy. They look so relaxed together.

Dino also completed his first under-saddle trail ride. It was my goal to get him on the trails this summer, and I kind of blew it. But, I got it done in the fall! He went out with Master horse trainer Coltin (seriously the best trail horse ever). Amy rode Coltin on the tails with Dino and me. Dino led almost the entire trail. He was so good. Bikes, joggers and other horses passed by and he was fine. I guess nothing truly frightens a dinosaur! He actually seemed so happy to get out and explore this big world! He did have a couple of good looks and some small spook in place moments, but only once did Coltin need to lead. That was when we were under the bridge and in the creek. Probably the most frightening place a horse could go. Dino led us into the water, but then saw a couple of shiny wet rocks peeking out of the water and just tried to turn back, but Coltin passed him and all was well! He really is a good little dinosaur!

Dino hits the trails
Dino hits the trails

Baby Dino Goes English!

Baby Dino's first English ride
Baby Dino’s first English ride

3 years old,  a little over 2 1/2 months under saddle. Yep, it’s time to go English! Kelsey (13) volunteered to give Dino’s his first ride under English tack. I am so proud of them both!

Dino (aka Wiley) has been doing really well. I spent the majority of the first 2 1/2 months just getting him to understand the forward aids. Now that he is moving forward with decent rhythm and relaxation, I’ve started adding a bit of connection to the equation. In this video, Dino had 4 days of connection work….just enough for Kelsey to keep his head down and out of giraffe mode. Dino is starting some long and low exercises to get those back muscles working, but I didn’t want Kelsey working on that. It was her first time trotting him, and I was just happy that Dino kept a level frame. He has that long brontosaurus neck that he loves to stretch up in the air!

Dino has been so good with everything, I forget he is only 3 sometimes. I’ve ridden him bareback and hacked him around the barn. Nothing.  He has basically been good at everything as long as I take it slow. Personality wise, Dino is growing out of the colt like angst of his 2 year old year and moving straight into grandpa mode. There are still some days where he pitches a fit because he can’t play with his friends, but they come only once a month or so now. It won’t be long before those behaviors are extinguished, and he is just a totally sweet old-soul type of horse. He really is becoming a gentle giant. I LOVE him!

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