No time? No problem!

I was sick this past week, and as a result didn’t get very much actual horse time in. I did my chores but really nothing extra.

But I still did some fun training!

I taught baby Sparkle to trot on a halter and lead.

I taught Frankie to walk ahead of me like I’m ground driving him, only at liberty.

I taught Wish to walk over a raised pole and through a hula hoop.

These weren’t “training sessions” – I was just doing my chores and taking the opportunities where they presented themselves.

While leading Sparkle and her mama Bailey out to pasture for the day (following mom is the BEST way to train a foal to lead btw!) she was doing so well I thought I’d see what would happen if I asked for a trot. Sparkle trotted right along with me, Bailey did not. Haha! After a few days of adding a little bit of trot to our “commute”, when we got into the pasture I let Bailey go and asked Sparkle to trot with me without mom around – no problem, she said, I got this, it’s a fun new game. It took no longer than leading them out to pasture would’ve anyway, and now Sparkle has a new skill to practice!

Frankie usually comes in from pasture when I call like a rock star – this week, he decided he doesn’t anymore for some reason. 😛 I had to walk out to get him, though he still comes along with me at liberty once I get close enough. Making lemonade out of lemons, I decided to try shaping him walking ahead of me like I was ground driving him. He caught on quickly, and after a few days I was even able to use a hand signal and verbal cue to get a little bit of steering! So fun. I had to walk out to get him and walk back with him to his pen anyway, so without spending any extra time or energy, I taught him a fun new skill, one that will make the notoriously nervous about new things Frankie much more comfortable when he is ready for “regular” ground driving.

When the herd comes in from pasture, Wish gets to stay out and keep eating grass, as she is a growing girl who needs a bit more calories. She is loving being special, but also really wants to DO SOMETHING FUN when I get her back in. At her instance to learn something new, I first asked her to walk over a raised pole, which she found quite challenging but was very willing to figure it out, so the next day I picked up the hula hoop to show her. I asked her to stick her head through it, and when she could do that she used her new raised pole skills to step right through the hoop. All together over two days it probably took about 5 minutes. Maybe 7. And I had a happy baby horse who got to learn a new fun skill, and an adorable new trick!

Almost every trick I’ve ever taught my horses was done during feeding time, in little 2-5 minute sessions. And don’t dismiss tricks as not really “training” – it’s all tricks to the horse, and many tricks are directly applicable to more serious activities. Not to mention the huge benefit to your relationship!

I know this is easier for those of us who live with our horses – we already have to be out with them to do their regular care, so it’s just a matter of looking for the opportunities and coming up with idea. But if you board your horse, you can still make use of these tiny windows of training or bonding opportunities, you just have to be creative! Maybe you spend a few minutes hand grazing, or practicing sidepassing while walking from their pen to the arena. Or teach a trick during grooming. Or turn the gate into an obstacle and see how perfect and smooth you can make it.

What could you add to your regular routine that could easily add a skill, or some fun, or just a little more connection with your horse?


2 thoughts on “No time? No problem!”

  1. Interesting that Wish had trouble walking over the raised pole. I had always assumed this to be an innate skill.

    It took Missy several attempts to stop knocking her hooves on even a pole placed on the ground in the round pen.

    Good to know she’s not just a clutz. 😊

  2. Thanks for the lovely reminder! As those of us who live in desert, we get to enjoy long periods of lovely weather, but when summer hits it’s really hard to stay motivated (and hydrated) to work with our minis. It’s hot even at sunrise.

    Since I mostly drive my minis and have 2 I’m getting ready for cart, I try to spend a few moments after grooming or cleaning stalls to work in-hand on flexing and bending. I just have to remind myself, cooler temps are on their way!

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