I forgot to give his bio yesterday. He is a 13/14 year old paint, Tennessee Walker. I measured him today as best I could>14.2 hands and obese, over 1100 pounds by my tape. I could easily depress the fat on his side 3/4 of an inch or more. Anonymous asked when he is do to foal. He kinda looks like it, but the anatomy is just not there.LOL. So today was his first day of a total equine makeover. Both in training and weight. We will see who the biggest loser is.
Wow. He is a nice mover. His gait is really smooth. After I got him in the rd pen, I had him on a rope halter and a 14' lead line. I just had him move around, lunging him at whatever pace he chose. By the way, I had no problem with forward movement with him. Which is great. He was a little anxious, so moving his feet is a really good thing to do to get him to relaxe. He wanted to trot in his gait and I just stood there and watched. He is going to be a smooth ride. I did that in both directions several times then when I saw him begin to relax let him stop and stand by me. Time for exercise #1- give to downward pressure on both sides. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate him at a 9. I barely had to have pressure on his poll and he went to the ground. I thought, Wow! This is going to be interesting. So I asked him to leave his head down. He did and there is no grass where he is at, only dirt. He did well in that so we moved to task #2.
Task #2 is lateral flexion. I would rate him initially at about 5-6. He is soft, but other things easily get his attention. So we did that 10x each side. Then I flogged him softly with the lead around his legs, back and neck. He stood pretty good, we had to go around in circles a few times, but he just was trying to figure out what to do.
Task #3 is lateral with vertical flexion. Again, I would rate him a 5-6. But after 10 x or so he was getting realy light. He got confused a time or two and wanted to move his feet so I just stayed with him until he got the right answer.
One of the things I do is to keep changing things up for him. For example, I didn't ask for those flexion 10x in a row. Instead, I would ask him 2-3x then walk him off. Then ask again from the same side and then walk him off again. I did this 3-4 x until he was real relaxed with that then move on to another task.
Task #4 was back up. This I would rate about a 1. He required intense motivation, repeatedly. So we really hammered on this. But like before I changed it up. I would ask with my body, then wiggling the rope, then really wiggling the rope, then the hitting the stick on the line, then waving it in front of him. All of these things I did several times and kept changing it up and then when he backed a step I just walked off. Then we got to a certain point where I would walk off and stop and back and let him run into my elbow. I just kept changing it up and after about 10 minutes, I think, he was doing ok. We upped it to about a 3 or 4 on the scale. One thing about all of this, just because I move on to another task doesn't mean I never go back to that task again. In fact, just the opposite, I keep reviewing.
Task #5 was disengaging the hindquarters. He was probably a 4 because I could tell he knew how to do it but he was really dull and sluggish at it. So He and the stick met a few times then we rubbed it away. After working both sides several times we began disengaging with a one step back up. Mind you he is still sluggish, making improvement in just the time that we had.
Then I just led him around the arena and began to practice all of these tasks, asking for a stop and backup, then walking off. Then stopping and asking for a disegagement and so on.
I finished with about 10 minutes or so of lunging in both directions trying to get two eyes then asking him to change directions. He was doing pretty good. We ended with a walk around the paddock outside the rd pen, a cool drink of water and a good brushing. He did well for the first day. It was about 86degrees out and we worked an hour so we were both sweaty.
It was a good first day of training. Everyday now is just building off of the previous one.