What We’ve Done So Far

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are a few areas I want to work on with Baron. I want to get a good foundation of ground work before I start riding him. I want to make sure I have control and have earned his respect.
I bought Baron the Sunday after Thanksgiving and it’s now mid-January. In that time, he’s had an injury that’s kept me from riding him or working him on the ground. He clipped his front leg with his back shoe and had a cut that had to heal. While he was laid up, I worked on some basic ground manners. When I come into his stall I make him back up away from the door so as not to crowd me. He caught on quickly and has learned to give me my space. Luckily, he is already a champ about being handled, like having his ears touched and his feet picked up. I didn’t have to do any work on that. I also started working with him on halting while being led. He’s very smart and catches on quickly. He is learning to slow down when I slow down and that “Whoa” means to stop. I’m trying to teach him to follow my lead and let me set the pace.
As his leg got better, I started working him on the lunge line and realized he did not know how to lunge. He would look at me and move his butt around the outside of the circle. As usual, he caught on quickly and figured out that I wanted his whole body to move around the circle, not just his butt!
I also started taking him on walks to get an idea of what spooks him, if anything. My barn has miles of trails that go through the woods and around a lake. To get to them, I have to ride a little stretch on a quiet road and then down a gravel road to the trail head. On our first time out, the cars going by didn’t bother him. He barely even glanced over. Perfect!Next, there is a fenced yard along the gravel road where three dogs reside, one German Shepherd and two Chihuahuas. The German Shepherd came charging and barking at the fence, but Baron wasn’t bothered. The Chihuahuas did their fair share of yapping as well, but again, he wasn’t phased. At that point we had had two possible reasons to spook and he ignored them both. The final challenge was his buddies still in the pasture. The gravel road runs alongside the pasture and when he saw his friends grazing, he threw his head up and started neighing like a stallion. He pawed the ground and did a little dance. (He was only gelded this past July, so he still has some stallion-like tendencies.) I said, “Easy, boy,” and led him in a circle to get his attention back on me. He continued down the road with no more antics. I was impressed. We encountered several challenges and he handled them all like a champ.

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