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RE: PH article "what a character"

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  • RE: PH article "what a character"

    My horse is without a doubt, the "prankster". For those of you that also ride this type, what are your favorite ideas to keep them entertained? I often ride by myself and need some ideas to keep it fun and entertaing for both of us so it doesn't always feel like work. Of course, we do lots of gymastics and pole work and free jumping is his favorite! Any ideas for fun riding exercises or ground work or games?

    ETA: all of my work is in a ring, so no hacking or xc fun!

  • #2
    Pranksters either make you smile or wear your patience. I have one, the girl riding him calls me everyday with 'the story' to tell on him .

    The gymnastics are the best, but aside from what you are already doing I'd have to say that the busy mind types do need a lot of real dressage and you HAVE to ride with a plan and stay busy with it, using lateral work and changes within a gait, flexions and counter flexions. All kinds of figures.

    Pransters are smart horses and they 'need' work to allay that busy mind. And they bond so much with the person who plays with them. I personally love this type of horse. They challenge you, so challenge them right back.

    My guy is a real houdini and a character. He wants you to 'see' him open the latches and untie the knots. He'll look to make sure someone is watching. He LOVES people, more than other horse company. He will push the others aside to be the center of attention. I've often felt like naming him Hambone. He has that look at me presence. He is meant to be a show horse.

    Good luck keeping up with him! You are handicapped by only being able to do ring work. I would suggest a better outside situation for you if you can manage a new one. You are going to need the variety and the place to truly exercise this guy.
    Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.


    • #3
      I have one. Honestly without hacking I think he would be 100% more naughty, just to amuse himself. He basically taught himself lead changes because he thought it was fun.

      More complex flatwork keeps him fairly amused, lots of collections and lengthens, but not for extended periods of time, only short times, keep it snappy. Lots of small circles, squares, loops, serpentines. Canter walk canter transitions. Gridwork with lots of bounces.

      But if you dont keep it interesting, he will find a way to do it himself. He will spook when he isnt scared. He will run out at fences when he loves to jump. He just likes to be the life of the party.


      • Original Poster

        thanks for the comments. Pony Grandma, it sounds like ours are very much alike. Mine acts just like a teenage boy that's the popular, good-looking, funny guy at school...and he knows it and uses it! And Bobthehorse, you are so right about the spooking. Unfortunately, I am having some issues with that which is why I am asking for ideas. Hopefully, it isn't too late and I can get his attention back.
        As far as working on transitions, how can I do it so that he isn't anticipating every move?
        I guess I will just have to keep making a diligent effort every ride to make it fresh and try to stay one step ahead of his brain


        • #5
          Just try to do things in a different spot each time. So you could do 5 centerlines, halting in a different spot each time, or leg yielding every third line.

          It drives me NUTS when he decides he feels like spooking at everything. 6 days a week the snow falling off the coverall arena doesnt bother him at all....on the 7th day its life threatening. He used to be a pain to hack alone because he would look for anything to spook at. He is better now, he is getting much cockier as he grows up. A herd of deer went crashing through the trees about 50 yards in front of us, and he just kind of stared in awe, and then wanted to run with them. That used to make him spin around and head for home. I try to go with a friend whenever possible, and incorporate some flatwork in scary areas, do some shoulder in, etc to keep his mind busy. Now his biggest tantrums happen when he wants to jump the log in the field instead of continue down the road.


          • #6
            I have the version known as the "cranky prankster". Unless it's jumping, he's grouchy and no amount of diversion will cheer him up. Dressage saddle is greeted with a look that can melt leather. I do try to start and finish with a little hacking, and he does enjoy his grooming so that's part of making him not quite so grumpy. But when I'm riding I've got to sort of be the "bad cop" or he takes advantage EVERY SECOND. Entirely too smart for his own good, we are all at a loss as to what motivates him to be so NAUGHTY.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              Yep, I have the horse known far and wide as the barn clown. Always up to something and oh yeah, if I don't keep things interesting he will take it upon himself to do the job.

              Here are some ideas for the merry pranksters:Have fun and keep him busy!


              • #8
                I have a horse that all the barn workers call "Dennis the Menace" just to give you an idea ...makes me laugh and makes me count to ten, sometimes at the same time...
                You can either be a good example or just a really horrible warning...


                • #9
                  My horse is very, very smart (people who don't spend every day with him can even see it, so it's not just mom be biased). He is also silly, naughty, and gets into EVERYTHING (frequently heard around the barn, "If he wasn't so cute, it would be easier to be mad at him"). He is also highly opinionated and easily bored...that combination makes him easily grumpy. So, variety is the spice of life. I try very hard NOT to grind on the dressage, and we learned as of last week that jumps need to be big, new, and challenging to get him to NOT be a complete dork...no more modified novice horse exercises. I hack him a lot, try to reward hard work in the dressage with a couple of jumps (if I'm not in my dressage saddle) or a nice walk. But, I've got to say, the biggest thing that has helped recently is the fact that we've upped his game. He's actually finding almost ALL of his work challenging (ok...not the jumping....that's all still way too easy), but interesting, and because he is, deep down inside when not acting like a college frat boy, eager to please, he's TRYING to be good and do what's asked. So, while we still have a major focus on the basics (forward, straight, rhythm, relaxation, good transitions, etc) and he sometimes finds some of the new work hard (he does beautiful dressage ring changes...but we're working on improving the counter canter, NOT the changes ), he seems to generally be pleased with the amount it requires him to think...and keeping him thinking is the key to keeping him from getting into too much trouble.


                  • #10
                    My little OTTB mare Witchy enjoys letting herself out of her stall if I don't remember to put a double end snap on her latch. THEN, she methodically goes to every other stall and lets out any other horse or the pony to graze in the yard with her...
                    ~ it no longer matters what level I do, as long as I am doing it..~ with many thanks, to Elizabeth Callahan


                    • #11
                      Yeah, this is why my horse is schooling 2nd level movements, but only competing at Novice. The whole w/t/c 20m circle thing makes AJ a dull boy.


                      • #12
                        Add freestyle music. lots of different pieces. create movements to go with the music. Check over on the dressage forum for more info.
                        Intermediate Riding Skills


                        • Original Poster

                          I am so happy to hear that all of you know the type! I completely relate to everything you've all said. We were pretty much out of commission for the last year and now that I've been trying to slowly get back into things, I've forgotten how dorky he is and have been taking the work way too seriously. That approach will not work. The last few days I've really tried to remember how funny he is and have added a lot more variety. I'm excited to see what exercises/games I can come up with and hopefully I can quickly get back to level I was riding at before my injury so that I can make it more challenging for him.
                          Please keep coming with the stories...it's very helpful and motivating!


                          • #14
                            Like Deltawave, I have a "crankster". I have to prove myself every step of the way every ride, and it is exhausting. Yes, he is an attractive hambone who loves attention, but he is also a royal pain in the *ss. I am lucky to have an assortment of other horses available hop on when I need a "therapy ride" because Mr. Crank is pretty hard on the old ego, also the confidence if I make the mistake of getting on him when I am not 100% on top of my game. And, like DW mentioned, I have to play "bad cop" almost constantly as he is always poised to take advantage of me. The up side is that he truly does make me ride just as well as I can, and he is capable of performing quite brilliantly if he thinks I've earned it. The downside is that as a rather senior rider who is often pretty tired and fried by the time of day I finally get to get on my horse, sometimes when I look at his handsome mug my heart sinks and I feel like I'd really rather just go have a drink.


                            • #15
                              Oh jeez, if its one thing my prankster doesnt take kindly to, its time off. He gets so bored, its terrifying what he comes up with.


                              • #16
                                I have one of these. He finds sticks (torn from high in trees) and plays with them He spins his lightweight rubber bowl feeder (my husband says " like a stripper's tit-feathers"), because if I give him a larger tyre feeder (much more fun) he tosses it around and manages to hurt/tighten up his poll area which makes changing flexion a little tricky. And do not ever leave a rug within reach....

                                He is awesome to jump, but doesn't like fussy pottering about exercises where is is discouraged from being expressive (some trainers LOVE this tendency, others HATE it - L Green in particular). The trick has been to give him enough work, and to NOT try and be too clever and mix things up - hell, he's good enough at this himself!. As someone else said, lots of REAL dressage - very structured and sensible. The anticipation will become your friend instead of your enemy once the horse is through. Jumping and pole work also needs to be structured. This doesn't mean rigid, but the same every day. These sorts of horses can fool you into doing too little with them, as you try and outwit the anticipation, and so don't ask the hard questions.

                                I can freely admit that until recently, just riding full school in working trot, without a change of rhythm or tempo, nice straight lines, good corners...has been almost impossible. Much easier to do lots of small circles, changes of direction, changes from collected to medium, counter canter, flying changes, lateral work....anything at all that hides the fact that he is not truly through! And that the apparent forwardness and enthusiasm is a cop-out, and a camouflage for the lack of real engagement. In a progressive way, ask for the BIG basic questions from these horses, and they will be totally focussed on how to oblige you. I wish I had realised this when he was four (he's now 8).


                                • #17
                                  The downside is that as a rather senior rider who is often pretty tired and fried by the time of day I finally get to get on my horse, sometimes when I look at his handsome mug my heart sinks and I feel like I'd really rather just go have a drink.
                                  Baymare, you're doing it backwards. Get up early, have the drink, THEN ride.

                                  On a side note, Mr. Cranky actually seems to have MISSED ME when I went to Rolex this weekend, because he greeted me with pricked ears and a little nicker when I got home . . . then flattened them and asked why there was no hay. He is a complicated character and no mistake. Bonnie is easy-easy-easy and as opposite as can be in almost every parameter. I'm learning a lot from this guy.
                                  Click here before you buy.