I never imagined certain things would fall under Endurance Training, but last year I found myself doing random circles in the ring, trying to teach Nakai to walk and trot while taking cookies from my hand. The circles were more like the flight path of a drunken bumble bee, and I’m sure we made quite the sight: tapping on the side of Nakai’s neck (this is his cookie cue) while clucking and bumping with my legs to keep him moving. Nakai would feel the tap and halt, swing his head to either side, lips flapping for a cookie deposit.
It was frustrating for the both of us.
He still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it, although he will pause for a fraction to take a treat before motoring along.
Likewise, he quickly learned “take a bite” was his open invitation to graze. Keeping the horses eating and drinking on trail is critical for good gut sounds.
One thing I would like to teach him is to snack and stroll. Rose will happily walk while grazing, often sneaking it in while trotting. It saves time on loops and I feel it’s an applicable tool whether pleasure or endurance riding. It’s relaxing for them, too.
Nakai had a massage with Maria Saturday, and afterward I took him out for a little walk to practice. The massage found him near perfect – he had a small knot and some tightness in his left hip area, but otherwise no issues!
We’ve gotten so far that he’ll walk with his head down, dragging his nose along the grass. If I pause, he’ll nibble, but then I lose the forward motion.
As the saying goes, one step at a time.