Noble’s Notables

Noble in our field

Noble came to me like something out of a fairy tale – my dream horse gifted by a stranger. But life with Noble has been a roller coaster of emotion that has challenged my creativity as a trainer.

There is something unique about this horse that sets him apart from any other horse I’ve encountered. As we continue on our journey, I’ve decided to capture some of his more unique or notable moments.

Events are in reverse order, for those who might want to catch up on the most recent items.

June 18, 2020

Today was a mind altering session – literally! I have been trying for several sessions to get Noble to use the whole lunge pen, by adding cones in the middle of each side. He will go around, if asked specifically at each cone – but I haven’t been able to get him to go around more than two cones at a time. Today I saw a side of Noble that shows his very way of operating has taken a leap forward!

As soon as I sent him out on a circle, I saw him watch for each cone and step outside of it – even if he came in a little off and had to take a slight side step to do it! Round and round to the left, using the whole pen, carefully going around each cone. I have never seen such focus and engagement in this boy!

The right was a bit more difficult, as it always is. But once I got him focused, he again began to note each cone and manage to get around all three that were left standing (one became a casualty to a bit of a “whoop-dee-doo!” when we first turned right). At last! A horse who not only likes the attention, but is actually engaged in doing the work! His brain is shifting toward attention and confidence. Two years ago I would have said that was an impossible dream!

June 14, 2020

Noble was really ‘on’ today! Not only was be spot on to all his cues while lunging, but he finally took a bit in his mouth! He’s long known that it’s easy to get out of reach of the feeble humans around him (neither of us have much for height anyway), so he’s made bridling an impossibility. Never have I had a horse so averse to taking a bit!

As luck would have it (literally!), recently YouTube saw fit to offer a Warwick Schiller video on bridling a 17.1 hand difficult bridler. Like I said, some spooky luck there! I borrowed his tip for starting with something innocuous, like the lunge line in the mouth. I’ve gone slower than he did in the video, and have used rewards – and today we moved up to a Happy Mouth bit in his mouth! I selected that bit from my collection because it isn’t metal. Having had one horse in my life who could not stand metal in her mouth, I will be curious to see if he is the same.

Note: before anyone asks why I don’t just consider bitless for him, he has an old face injury from when he was a foal. We have learned from long experience that there seems to be some associated nerve damage, making him uncomfortable with anything applying pressure there – and it happens to be where a cavesson, halter, or bitless bridle sits. So that option is not viable for him.

June 2, 2020

Asthma is bad today, but it’s Noble’s day so I didn’t want to let him down (taking Tally out last night led to a bit of a tantrum from the big fellow). I grabbed the gear and met him in the ring.

In an effort to keep things slow, for the sake of my lungs, we did some in-hand work. Followed it up with a little walk work around the cones, and some trotting in both directions. Satisfied with a nice workout, I led him to the gate.

I opened the gate and walked through. Noble stood firm, looking calmly at me. No amount of cajoling got him to move. I finally gave in and went back in, closing the gate behind me. Noble happily followed me to the center, and we did more work – this time at trot and canter. The longest session we’ve ever had!

When we finally walked back to the gate, he calmly and quietly followed me through.

May 22, 2020

Today was not supposed to be Noble’s day. Friday’s are for the mares. But Noble refused to let us put his fly mask on. When I walked over, after my mother had tried, he was standing looking out the back of his stall. When I called him, he looked at me, then back out to the back. He was looking at nothing in particular – just out.

I’d worked Tally already, with Noble watching us from the back of his paddock – his breakfast sitting in his stall, half eaten. So, I had a pretty good idea what he wanted at this moment. I had a list of things to do, but how do I say ‘no’ to a horse who wants to go out and work?

I grabbed the equipment and headed out toward the lunge pen. Noble came eagerly through his paddock and into the lunge pen, presenting his head for the cavesson. We had a lovely session, ending with a good long scratch along his back.

May 7, 2020

Tonight Noble met me at the gate to the back, as usual when it’s time for a working session. He walked by my side, but as we made it to the fence, he surged a bit past. I asked him to get back, but he still stopped two strides in front of me … and pushed on the gate to the lunge pen … then turned and looked at me.I undid the chain, swung the gate, and he sauntered in.

He nibbled some grass as I went to the center. I waited, but he kept munching, so I picked up the lunge whip and asked him to move on. He trotted a few strides before turning and walking up to me … then touching the cavesson laid on the mounting block next to me … then turning his head toward me, lowered and waiting to have the cavesson put on.

I was still arranging the lunge line when he started out on the circle on his own. He walked slowly around until I was arranged and had the whip ready. And so commenced a lovely working session!

Glad to know that if I forget what I’m supposed to do, Noble is ready and willing to help me out with a few tips!

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Jane Doe

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