Since yesterday was the 4th of July, I decided I wasn’t going to ride the boys today since I wasn’t sure how stressed of a night they had with the fireworks. So I took them out and put them in the arena together. I had one small jump set up in a small vertical just for fun to see what the boys would do.
While I walked over to get my lunge whip Jack was checking out the jump and decided he wanted on the other side and happily walked over it, careful not to knock down the rail but not wanting to put enough effort into it to actually jump it. It’s the first time I’ve seen him actually try going over an obstacle without me in the ring and it defiantly made me do a little happy dance. Cash was nibbling at what ever dried grass he could find.
Once I entered the ring I just started to move them. Cash, being the slightly rebellious one, tossed his head and half reared before taking off like a rocket. Jack loped a few yards before slowing to a jog and eventually stopping to look at me while Cash zoomed around a bit before finding some more grass to nibble on.
As I worked with the boys it made me notice yet again how very similar and yet how very different the boys are temperament wise. They are both moochers and want treats. Some days I swear they think I’m a gum ball machine that just drops treats out as soon as they nuzzle me. But what I noticed between Jack and Cash today is how different they are in their receptiveness of me.
Jack is a much more cautious horse. He’s young and everything is a bit scary to him. He’d defiantly rather spook and get out of the way before looking at it, though he responds amazingly well to pressure when he is scared. Jack had no problem following my every move and happily diong what my body language told him. If I stepped back to draw him in he happily walked over. If I pushed him by moving his butt away he yielded his hind quarters. He always pays close attention to me and I must admit it’s quite nice.
Cash on the other hand is a lot less receptive to me and body language. Would he recognize what I was asking? Yes…eventally. It was usually after he finished looking at what ever he thought was interesting or finishing his lap in gallop. He would look over and be like, “oh hi, yeah I’m coming” long after Jack already responded to it. In watching their reactions it really helps me figure out both ways to train with them.
Jack needs the reassurance that he’s doing the right thing. He’s more nervous and needs a calming presence to help guide him and tell him everything ok. He’s a horse that I think would run himself to death for me if I told him to. If I stay calm and quietly ask for what I want he’s happy to oblige in the best way he knows how. It doesn’t take him long to pick up things but if I get angry with him he will get nervous and try to flee. My utmost priority with Jack is staying calm and quiet.
Cash needs a calm presence but also a loud one in a way. He needs to be reminded “hey you! listen mister” without getting physically dominant and thats the hardest part with Cash. Being loud enough he listens but not letting it boil over into anger. When Cash gets tired or frustrated he very much shuts down and does his best to ignore anything and everything and goes his own way. You have to have patience. Stop, calm down. Give Cash a break and then try it again and then he usually gets it. He’s a horse I am constantly learning to figure out. How he reacts on the trail is ten times different then how he reacts in the arena…he defiantly keeps me on my toes.
Jack and Cash have similar mannerisms but entirely different mentality when it comes to work. They both love to paw in frustration, they both love to get treats and they both have similar tendencies in their learning curves but they both react to stress completely differently. Cash will fight, Jack will flee.
The biggest thing I (and hopefully you as a reader) try to do is to work each horse individually. They are just like us, some learn better one way then another. Some can’t handle getting yelled at and another you can spank them and they’ll just do it out of rebellion. I don’t believe there should ever be cookie cutter training systems because each horse is going to pick up skills differently. What one horse learns in 30 days another may learn in 10, where one excels the other struggles and so on. Always work a horse with a clean slate. Don’t let frustrations from one horse bleed onto another either. And that can be a challenge in and of itself when riding horses back to back!
Until next time!