Today was farrier day, and I decided that the farrier would probably benefit from Ace running off some steam. So, while we were waiting, Ace learned the first two most important commands that a Saddlebred knows. And they are "Whoop-Trot" and "Whoa-Stand".
"Whoop-Trot" is for keeping the horse in his trot. Good for when the horse is breaking into a canter or into a rack. Basically anytime he's about to "come off his feet" from a trot. "Whoa-Stand" is universal.
Ace was already in the arena/turnout when I got there. So, I just ran him around a little. Actually, he needed no encouragement. He galloped around and around and in and out the doors for about 10 minutes until he was sweaty and breathless. Now, the key to horse training (and I forget who I'm quoting) is "to see what a horse is about to do, and tell him to do it. Then he thinks you made him do it." I started with "Whoop-Trot" when he was getting tired. It's basically just a soothing command.
After he was trotting this way and that for me instead of galloping, we moved on to "Whoa" and "Stand" This he caught on to quicker than I expected. He let me come up to him, and only challenged me with a playful rear a couple of times. When this faux pas is committed, I simply snap him behind the elbow with the whip and send him out again. Shortly he was waiting expectantly for me to approach him. His happy, eager face was a reward in itself, and he let me handle his head without biting, and move to his shoulder.
Then he learned "Stand" which means "front and center, no biting, we're not going to wrestle." A few raps on the nose with the rubber end of the whip and he was standing quietly (not reaching to bite) while I walked around him and petted him from both sides, and stood with him. He needs to learn to stand solid for me to approach him if we are to move on to long lines and ground driving. A lot of adjustments could need to be made, and he needs to stand patiently until he is asked to move. This he passed with flying colors.
He was very interested in this new program. So much so that when the lunch lady (Mom) came to the barn, he remained focused on me and happy in his work. The farrier was running late, so I ended up heading back to the office before he got there, but Mom emailed the following report:
...As for Acey's manners, he gets an A plus, plus, plus from me. He stood the whole time and never had to be leaned up to the wall. He held the whapper stick in his mouth. It is very flat in the middle now, really! Running some steam off for him first was a great help to us all!
The boy is an Ace in cross ties (no pun intended!).