Poe: Week Two

June 26, 2013

Since last Wednesday I have gotten in a couple rides on Poe, and they were all an improvement on the day before.  That pony is unflappable, and picks up on things quickly.  He has a great mind set for games.

I was originally giving him a crash course on mounted games, introducing him to the equipment, and having a rider leaning and moving around on his back.  I was planning to attend the Summer Sizzler on Sunday, and take him in the Green Pony division, to see what he thought of games in a real format, and try him on some hand offs.  Then I was going to take Simon in intermediate and get in some good practice for nationals that is just a few quick weeks away.  But the opportunity presented itself for me to go pick up my new (used) trailer that day instead.  And since it was going to be a 10 hour round trip drive, minimum, I decided to get that done instead.  So I stopped the crash course, and just continued the basic games introduction, and spent more time getting acquainted with Poe.

One day I decided to throw balloon race at him.  Nothing else had phased him, and balloon tends to be one of those races that pushes the limits on some new ponies.  So I wanted to see what he thought.  I led Poe down to the riding field and, I went straight over to my old balloon board and started blowing up and attaching balloons while Poe was standing with me.  He nibbled on my pockets, and laid his head against my arm while I was blowing up balloons.  I even popped one smack in my face.  He did not seem to notice.  Once all the balloons were attached, I laid the board on the ground and walked around it to go set up some other stuff.  I was leading Poe, who took a short cut and stepped over the balloons instead of skirting them.  Yep, he sure seemed terrified of them.

After a brief warm up I dove right into balloon, and decided just to give it a trot past and pop one.  Poe was unfazed, and after cantering back and forth until I had all the balloons popped, I don’t think he even flicked an ear.  This guy was born to be a games pony.

We worked on some Litter, and again, cool as a cucumber.  Flag, nothing to it.  Bottle, we got that.  The only races that have shown any need for adjustment at this point would be mug shuffle and ball and cone.  And When I say, they show need for adjustment, that is really a stretch.  In mug shuffle, he is still a tiny bit confused if he is supposed to go straight or if he should bend the poles.  And in ball and cone he is a little unsure if he should step under me when I lean over.  Yeah, so not really issues at all.

Neck reining is a must in games.  Riders spend a lot of time with something in one of their hands, so being able to navigate with one hand is important.  Last night I spent some time working on his neck reining.  I started a drill I have used with all my past ponies that needed to learn this skill.  I start off at a walk, weaving through the line of poles, around the end pole, and back through, and around the end and back.  So on, just back and forth, turning the ends.  I direct rein, neck rein and employ my legs.  I eventually use less and less direct rein and continue with the neck rein and legs only.

After a few times through, Poe started to respond to only neck reining through the weave.  The end turn still required leg and direct, but not as much.  The reason I do this drill, is that the pony quickly picks up the pattern.  Then they start to key in on the rein on the neck, signaling the weave.  Eventually they pick it up on the end turn too.  I intentionally keep the end turn tight.  So that they learn to make tight turns, and also so that turn is harder to do with just a neck rein.  More of a challenge.

Of course I am also always neck reining when I ride him, in conjunction with direct reining.  He is a smart pony, and I think this will come quickly.

I am eager to push him up in speed through the games, but I am also a firm believer in taking my games training seriously and in steps.  I feel that a pony needs to learn the races first and foremost.  They need to learn the patterns, up-and-back, and they need to learn to stop and to go, at once, and not through gradual transitions.  I feel like getting this down at a trot and easy canter is important, and then allow the pony to start picking his pace to a degree.  At this point, the pony should have no idea that he is actually racing.  Once the skills and patterns are pretty solid, adding some speed, and asking for a little more, degree by degree, is a good next step.  Particularly with fossil pony training, where excellent manners, and the skill of stopping and standing is even more important, this slow progress is even more beneficial.  Basically the pony learns his job first, and then to add in speed later.  It seems to help keep their head on straight.

His mind set continues to amaze me.  And I think a sport like mounted games will help keep his mind engaged and occupied.  He is also a really friendly good natured pony.  He is kind to both Simon and Linus, even though he is top dog.  Linus, who is a very timid pony, happily lets Poe help him finish his feed, and Poe allows Linus to stay to lick the pan with him, vs running him off and keeping it all for himself.  Simon seems almost enamored with Poe, and is constantly touching him.  I am also happy that Poe loves attention and comes in with Simon and Linus when he sees me.  He walks right up to me and lets me put on his halter and seems eager for one on one attention.  He loves to put his head against me and enjoys being brushed.

I really like this pony.  He is such a pleasure to be around, and I am really enjoying riding him.  And training him for games is really fun!

photo (4)

poe 1

poe 3

poe 4


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