Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two Training Days

Yesterday Annette and I took Flash and Jackson for a dressage lesson with our trainer in Riverside.  These lessons are always hard and Flash and I are usually exhausted afterward.  It was no exception yesterday.  We spent the first 15 minutes getting Flash to bend immediately when I pick up the reins.  My trainer told me there are only 2 positions with the reins: on the buckle or accepting contact and bending using his body.  He likes being on the buckle and resists at bending and using his back.  Times, they are a changing for him.  And I have to learn how to give and release when he accepts contact.  Such a fine line for two males to follow.  However, half way through the lesson it was working, and it was a really good feeling for both of us.  After an hour lesson I hosed Flash off, tied him to the trailer with a hay bag next to him,and went to watch Annette and Jackson.  I checked back about 30 minutes later, and Flash had his eyes closed, dozing in the warm sun.  It was a long day; we left at 10 in the morning and didn't get home until almost 5 in the afternoon.

Today I got up at 5:30 am and went down to the barn to feed.  It was 32 degrees with frost everywhere.  Annette elected to stay and bed and dream about getting a new saddle for Jackson.  Actually, I had to get Flash ready for mounted patrol training.  We left at 6:30, drove for an hour, and arrived at the training facility, the first ones there.  I like to get there first because parking is really tight and it's difficult to maneuver my trailer.  The training, (this time in a western saddle), starts out with formation riding for two hours, and then two hours of sensory training.  Most of the horses are pretty good at a walk, but when we pick up the trot, a lot of them blow up, and their riders lose control.  We don't usually try canter, because it becomes total chaos.  I usually try to get next to a horse that has a good head with a good rider.  The problem is that people forget the movement commands or speak too softly, so Flash and I have to lead in the difficult movements, like doing a "wedge" and moving people off a wall, or the rail in this case.  Flash was really tired when we got there, but he was a good boy; and when I picked up the reins, it took him only a few seconds to start working correctly.  He looked out of place with the other "head high" horses, but the lieutenant was pleased.

After a short break we started doing the sensory.  It consisted of walking by balloons, thru a flare pattern,  over tarps, thru a "car wash" while at the same time a ground person had a gas powered leaf blower with caution tape attached to the blower end pointing it at the horses from three feet away.  None of it bothered Flash.  At one point I picked up a trash bag full of empty soda cans and put it on his neck, under his belly and on his back while the person with the leaf blower walked all around him about 2 feet away trying to spook him.  He just said "whatever".  Then they started up the "air man" who is Flash's best friend.  While all the other horses wouldn't come closer than 20 feet, Flash walked right up said, "hey buddy, I missed you".
Flash and his "air man" buddy.
Flash with the "battle ball", another one of his favorite friends.

We ended the training with shooting shot gun blanks near the horses while a police car was a few feet away with the lights and sirens going.  I think the siren bothered Flash a little, because it took him a minute to walk up to the car.  But when he did, he put his nose on the closed window and seemed to be admiring his reflection in the glass.  Another long day though.  We didn't get back home until 3 in the afternoon.  Flash rolled and decided to make more compost.  I decided compost was a good idea, and wrote this blog.


  1. What a wonder horse! The dressage lesson was right up my alley, and I love how well Flash seems to be taking to it. Noted as well how his new "frame" carried over into the police work. Now all you have to do is get all the other horses going correctly--It would make a huge difference in controlling the chaos.

    But, the sensory training is amazing! And it's quite clear Flash is a star at it. My two older horses would be so freaked out we'd be spooked all the way back here to NJ! However, my younger horse--a solid paint cross (h-m--m-m-m)--would probably be a good train to it all. He'd get over the spooks pretty well and maybe even start to charm some of the obstacles too.

    That battle ball looks like fun, actually! I know all the training is for practical reasons, but it does look like a good time was had by all.

  2. Great dressage lesson and exactly what I'm working on (take the contact, release correctly). The de-sensitizing is amazing. What good training for any trail horse to have. Flash is wonderful.

  3. Oh how the DH and Bay would love stuff like your mounted patrol training. Boo would just...well his name is Boo afterall.

  4. Brett...I am impressed with you and Flash. So nice to see the diversity in what you are doing. Nice teamwork and a very special horse. Congrats on your award. Nice to learn more about you.

  5. I am a dressage rider but I really enjoyed reading about your mounted patrol training. Flash must make you very proud. I just am amazed that the Airman is his buddy. What a horse!