Punks Kid Rock is the registered name of my American Quarter horse gelding, Rocky. This blog chronicles our adventures together,
as well as stories from my horse past and, occasionally, a tidbit from my non horse life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Rocky likes to stick his nose out.  He generally travels in a long, spread out manner, his nose leading the charge.  He moves like that even in the pasture, so it's just his natural way of getting from A to B.  Most of the time, especially as he's been growing up, I have ignored his stuck out nose.  Okay, to be fair, I didn't know how to ask him NOT to root his nose, but I also didn't want to push him into travelling in a frame (or collected) before his growing body could handle it.  There are so many differing opinions about how to push or not push young horses!  General consensus, however, is that a 6 year old is just tipping past "young horse" into "mature horse" territory.

We're there.  Rocky turned 6 this spring, and sometimes I can't believe that I have already owned him for 3 years.  This last year, I have started working with him using Clinton Anderson's methods, and have seen a lot of improvement from both of us.  The biggest thing so far (for me, anyway) has been flexing him horizontally- asking him to bend his nose to touch my boot while I'm on him.  He has been getting lighter and lighter about doing this, and each time I ride him I let him warm up to it, but then I can ask him to flex with just a couple of fingers. It's awesome.

Last fall, I started learning how to ask him to "vertically flex from the poll-" to tip his nose towards his chest when I pick up with the reins. Now, for my stuck out nose horse, tipping his nose towards his chest did not initially make much sense.  To ask for it, you put the horse in a snaffle bit that would be uncomfortable but not painful for the horse to lean against. Then you pick up first with one rein, sliding your hand toward the bit and pulling back to hold steady pressure on the horse's mouth.  You do the same with the other rein until the horse has steady backwards pressure on his mouth, again enough to make them uncomfortable but not enough to be painful.  

Then you wait, hands holding reins on your thighs until the horse is standing still and they figure out to give to you.  You're waiting for them to bump their nose in, giving to the bit for just a second.  Then you release the pressure, rewarding them for that give.  The first time Rocky and I did this last fall, my arms were shaking from holding his big head. He didn't get it, and stood for probably 20 minutes at a time pulling against the pressure. It didn't help that the bit I was using was too thick, giving him too much to lean against.  I now have a snaffle that isn't thick, with nice copper inlay. Alright, it's my mom's bit that she isn't using right now, but I digress.

That's where we started, Rocky leaning against the bit for 20 minutes or so before giving me the slightest nose bob.  Of course, you can't try something just once and expect them to get it... so I ended up sitting in the arena looking like I wasn't doing much for over an hour. Ah, horse training.

Since then we have much improved, I forget to practice but Rocky is a smart horse and quickly picks up where we left off.  Thank goodness for forgiving horses! 

Yesterday he started flexing vertically from his poll when I would just pick up the reins.  He wasn't consistent about it yet, but lightness is coming into it.  He's finally started to really *get* it, and he definitely had his thinking cap on.  I am pretty sure his 'thinking cap' pushes his ears out, because when he is really concentrating, his ears go out to the side and his eyebrows wrinkle. It's not really a pretty look... but I love it because I know how hard he's trying to do what I'm asking.

We got the vertical flexion at a standstill, and even started working on it at a walk! I had to put my spurs on to help him figure out that he now needs to move and flex at the same time, but it didn't take him long to start to catch on.  We worked on it until he started getting it fairly consistently in the arena, then went for a short trail ride.  He gave really nicely even out on the trails! 

After the ride was over, he was tired but happy. 

On a side note, I just spent about half an hour trying to get my phone to connect to the computer so I could put the picture I took of Rocky at the end of this post. It's not working and I'm getting mad at it, so I'm going to post a different picture.

**UPDATE: I just realized that the photo I uploaded here previously is one that I put in a different post.  Oops! Here's a new photo instead:
Rocky and I going through some water!

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