Update on Chance and Zola . . . August 26

Zola had the day off on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I lunged her with tack on, but didn’t ride.  Yesterday I rode her and we did some more walk/trot trot/walk transitions.  All went well.  The key thing is that she has not done anything ‘bad’.  This is critical (to me at least).  The more times she does it correctly, the more it becomes what she will do.  The goal in training (educating) a horse is to be consistent so that the horse’s responses become second nature.   I have to say that I am really picky on the early training.  To me, it’s the foundation the horse will have for life.  I want it to be solid.  Even more so, I want the horse to respond consistently and without thinking so that when something unexpected comes up, the situation will be that much easier to handle.

Even though I didn’t plan on riding Chance, I did tack him up and attach the heart rate monitor.  And it worked! What was interesting was that he was already tacked up before I put the monitor on. He was standing, apparently calm, tied to my horse trailer (which is routine), he had been fed some cookies, and appeared totally relaxed and ho hum.  Wrong!   When the heart rate was picked up on the receiver, it was 69 beats per minute.  Should have been more like 30.  I was very surprised.  I led Chance away for perhaps 150 feet.  His heart rate dropped to 59.  I stopped and let him stand, and it dropped to about 50.  As I led him back to the trailer (to both Chance and Zola this means they are done for the day) it dropped immediately to 39.  And that was without a bridle, which I think would have made his heart rate higher.  Let alone my actually getting on. Will be interesting to see what happens when I ride him with it.

What this tells me is that it is much harder to read horses than I thought.  And I feel I’m good at it.  I can easily see that a person less attuned to their horses – say someone who boards and rides a couple times a week  – could be getting on a horse who might appear relaxed, but could be very nervous.  This experience was fascinating to me and for those who can afford it, I recommend a heart rate monitor.  The ironic thing is that horses monitor our heart rate constantly – without need of a monitor.   Will be interesting to see, as an experiment, if Chance’s heart rate goes up if I try to get mine to go up.  On Zola  my heart rate is probably always high!

Knock on wood, Chance appeared to be walking normally this morning when he came in.   Plan on riding him tonight.

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