Article by Tracey Hamilton
Milo joined Stonewater Mustangs from a Nevada HMA, the Pine Nut Mountains herd. He is an athletic pony-sized, curious, never-met-a-stranger, busy-all-the-time almost 5-year-old. He is also a student favorite to work with in our Bible study and Horsemanship program.
As we mentioned last month, he arrived at our barn with a trick… he lies down when signaled. In September he decided to start opting out of work by lying down. He’ll get right back up when asked and moves along as though nothing happened. He is sound, healthy and happy!
For the past three months Milo’s been paired with a student who comes to the barn consistently to work with him. It has been wonderful to watch this pair work together. Heather* spends a good amount of time bonding with him through grooming and then moves to basic ground games. Utilizing the games, she keeps his mind engaged and rewards him with verbal praise for the smallest tries. Building her asks on positive reinforcement has proven rewarding.
After ground games, Heather leads Milo to the mounting block. His ears are on her, his body is relaxed, and his eye is kind. He stands quietly while she mounts and walks off when asked. Not even a pause or thought to lie down!
She spends the next 30 minutes or so weaving in and around obstacles and transitioning between walk, trot and halt. Sometimes in a trot he stops without warning, but will move off her leg nicely. So far, he’s stopped lying down… now to keep him moving in the trot!
*Name changed to protect privacy.
The Northwest Horse Source is an independently owned and operated print and online magazine for horse owners and enthusiasts of all breeds and disciplines in the Pacific Northwest. Our contemporary editorial columns are predominantly written by experts in the region, covering the care, training, keeping and enjoyment of horses, with an eye to the specific concerns in our region.