Our little paint pony Baxter has been making some nice progress recently in his training. This cute boy just arrived from New Holland in October 2014, and has only been in steady work for 2 months. Thus far he has taken everything in stride and appears to be a sweet and low-key kinda guy. He has three smooth, steady gaits, and casually trots over poles and x-rails.
The biggest thing we have noticed is that he seems to have a lack of formal riding training. We imagine that if he was previously a camp horse or trail horse, he must have been trained to simply follow the horse in front. We had to begin with the basics of steering: left rein means turn left, right rein means right, and both at once means halt. He had almost certainly never been asked to soften or stretch over his back, and preferred to go with his head straight up in the air. While it took some time to convince Baxter that he actually could bend, he has recently begun to understand this new way of going. By teaching Baxter to stretch and soften, we can help him to strengthen his back and hind end. In time, this will improve the quality of his gaits and allow him to feel much more comfortable when ridden.
Although he is very steady under saddle, Baxter is also quite sensitive. We imagine that previously he may have been roughly handled, as he was initially a bit nervous and head shy around people. He certainly struck us as one who had been left to fend for himself–he may be the only pony in the world who did not recognize the crinkling sound of a treat wrapper! We have been working to set him at ease around people, and he seems to be warming up to us.
So far, Baxter has shown himself to be very quiet in hand and around the farm. He easily does all of our obstacles, and was unfazed by our noisy ‘drag’ of empty cans. This week, he went out on his first trailride in the snow, with Raven along for company. He strolled along on a loose rein, which certainly bodes well for the future. Overall, we are pleased with this cute little guy’s progress, and we look forward to seeing continued relaxation and improvement!