Dog Behavior Around the Pony

dd08A dog with no pony etiquette is very annoying.  Not only for the rider and their pony, but for anyone else in company. It is distracting and frustrating and can be dangerous.

I knew better, yet I still let Daisy and Simon goof off and bait each other while I rode.  It was a terrible precedence to set, and I knew it all along.  On trail rides Daisy is fine and scouts around, ahead and behind like a pro.  But riding at home she tends to spend more time running close to Simon.  Last weekend my husband pointed out how annoying Daisy was becoming and how her behavior around Simon was becoming atrocious.  I had been noticing this as well, and agreed, it was time to give her some direction.

dd10Recently she has started to dart ahead, cutting close to Simon’s head, and looping back around for another pass.  She is also very excited at mount up time, and has started to run around Simon barking.  This is not OK.

dd09So today I started working with Daisy and her behavior around the pony.

I started off leading Simon and instructing Daisy to stay behind me.  She caught this very quickly.

Next I lunged Simon.  I instructed Daisy to stay at my feet while I did so.  It was a bit of a challenge.  Every time Simon slowed and I had to ask him to move on, Daisy wanted to run out to him.  It was also a bit of a challenge for Simon, who wanted to run in and attack Daisy.  I ended up putting a rope on Daisy that I could step on if she attempted to dart out.  This made the difference and after a few minutes we were consistently successful.

dd02

After that we worked on mounting.  This has become quite the challenge for Daisy and took a few minutes to accomplish smoothly.  I made her sit off to the side, so that both Simon and I could see her.  She was initially so excited that she sat on her butt, bouncing her front feet on the ground and voiceless-barking.  I went slowly, reminding her to SIT-STAY often.  I faced the saddle and reminded her.  I placed my hands for mounting and reminded her.  I put my foot in the stirrup, and again, reminded her, SIT-STAY.  I bounced a few times, and again reminded her.  I bounced up and on, and then had to send her back to her SIT-STAY spot.  She immediately returned and sat down, with her tail wagging so hard it looked like she would propel herself off at any moment.

dd07

working on SIT-STAY while I tightened the girth

Our next step was to work on WAIT-BACK while riding.  This is a command I use when trail riding and I come up on a road or approach other riders/hikers/bikers.  I accompany the vocal command with a stop sign hand held out to my side.  She is generally good at following this command on trail when coming to a road, less so when approaching others (too exciting!).

dd04

This was key to working with her in the ring.  She already knows the command, and knows it means to stay behind my leg/hand, and there fore, behind Simon’s flank.  It took a lot of reminders, but she quickly accomplished it at the walk.  By the end of our session she did not require any reinforcement at the walk.  The trot was more challenging, but we ended with her not passing Simon, and only needing minor vocal or hand signal reminders.

dd05

Now the canter was a whole other situation.  Not only was she less inclined to heed the command, but Simon was more interested in bucking and charging her in this gate. We did not finish the session with consistency at the canter.  She did choose to run off around the field on her own a few times, and one time took a 20 second lay down on the side, which was acceptable.  She did stop darting past Simon but did run past him, so improvement, but still a lot of work needed here.

dd03

All in all it was a very productive training session for Daisy. I think if I were able to work with her several days in a row, she would be able to consistently maintain proper behavior around Simon with some basic reinforcement.  But I only ride with Daisy in company on weekends, so it will probably take a while.

dd06

Simon was also a champ and quickly caught on that this was about Daisy, and not so much about him.  Because he neck reins, it was also much easier to give Daisy hand signals.  What a good pony.

A good SIT-STAY while I prepared to mount

A good SIT-STAY while I prepared to mount

As a reward I took Daisy with me to the pet store (needed to pick up dog food) where she had a fantastic time on leash, smelling everything.

 

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