Saturday, August 15, 2009

Success with THE TARP!

Let me just tell you what has been at the top of Hayden's "Hate List":THE TARP!

In March of '08, we competed in a local extreme cowboy competition. One of the only obstacles we practiced at home was THE TARP.I had it hanging in his stall,laid outside his stall,made him walk over it,etc.During the competition THE TARP was the only obstacle out of 16 that the silly horse wouldn't go over! Frustration doesn't even begin to describe what I felt!

So anyways,during these Versatility Ranch Horse Competition(VRH)there may possibly be a slicker involved.You know the type;big,loud,yellow,long,horse eating slicker! So I figured that if he can handle a tarp he can handle a slicker right?

So a month ago I started just messing around with THE TARP and had it laid over a fence.I was on him and side passed over to it,took it off the fence,rode around with it,etc,and it never seemed to bother him! I was excited! Next day I attempted the same thing only when I took it off the fence he acted like he'd never seen it before! What's up with that? Only difference was that the day before we had done THE TARP after a 2 hour trail ride. Hmmm....

So for the past 3 weeks or so I have been seeking the advice of others who have more experience than me in this sort of thing. I am Facebook(FB)friends with an extraordinary horsewoman,Karen Jones( so I emailed her and asked her advice! She was so sweet and answered back diligently with a lengthy and helpful tutorial on what to do. I followed it to the tee as much as possible. I won't go into all the details but it involved MORE GROUND WORK! So that's what we have been doing A LOT of and tonight it paid off! For the past few weeks I have been instilling "WHOA." for ground tie training and so with that I have been sacking him out with the tarp. Every night I have been dragging it around his feet,over his back,pull over his neck and head, all while making sure he stood still! If he moved,I put him back where he was and said "WHOA." Sounds pretty basic huh? Some nights it was no big deal and others it was like it he'd never seen THE TARP before!

The last several nights he's been super great, so I wanted to do something different with him and THE TARP. Tonight I saddled him up and put him in the round pen and set up THE TARP on the ground next to the rail with my 3 step mounting block acting like a wing to help guide him. We lunged quietly and slowly over THE TARP for 20 minutes. Sometimes he'd jump it and other times he would try and skirt past it on the rail. Going to the left he'd stay near the mounting block.Going to the right he'd stay on the fence. He only avoided it one time in the 20 minutes so I thought that was pretty good!

So after 20 minutes I decided he was pretty calm and relaxed so I thought it was a good time to mount up. He wasn't sure I really wanted him to go OVER THE TARP with me on him but we went slow and easy and ended up walking right down the middle.After changing directions several times and making him stand in the middle of it,I felt that he had passed for the evening!

The next step I did in achieving our TARP goal was to place it on the fence and make him walk by it without me on him. I again used the mounting block to make him a lane to travel through and squeeze him closer to THE TARP.After several passes both directions at the walk, I would make him stop next to it and even walk past it and back up past it. He did this with flying colors and continually looking at me as if to say,"Really? You didn't think I could handle this?"

So then came THE TARP TEST. After moving the mounting block out of the way,I mounted up and rode him in both directions past the tarp hanging on the fence. Then we would stop next to it and side pass to it if needed. Stop. Rest. Pat good boy.Walk on. After doing this in both directions, we then would walk to it,"WHOA." and take it off the fence! He stood still! So then I would walk around to the other side of the pen and lay THE TARP over the fence, and walk off only to come by and pick it up and lay it over the fence on the other side of the pen again. We repeated this at the walk,jog,and lope both ways and called it night! SUCCESS with THE TARP! YAY!

If anyone actually does read this,you may be one of several different types of folks. If you're a non-horse person, you're probably thinking:"What's the big deal about THE TARP?" If you're a horse person that has never had to deal with this type of issue you may be thinking the same thing as the non-horse person! However,if you're a horse person that has had or are now dealing with this type of issue,then you're probably just about as excited as I am right now! Cheers!
Below is a picture of me on Hayden practicing for that extreme cowboy race I mentioned earlier.My great friend Amy Boddie took the picture!


  1. I'm proud of you! :) Anytime you need me just let me know! I'm cheering you both on every step! Hugs to you and Hayden!
    Karen Jones ~*KJ*~

  2. Thanks Karen! That means a lot to me!