Saturday, November 22, 2008

Circles in the Field

My issue with Canyon comes down to extending his trust in me as a leader. So today, quite by accident, I did something that impacted that issue.

I can work Canyon in the round pen and he does fantastic. Licks, chews, one ear on me... all good.  But I still can't ride him out alone. He is so freaked out that I know he's thinking about lions and not giving to me as a leader. He trusts me, will take leadership, but only so far.

So today we took him for a walk to the back area of the land at the stables. It's really pretty out there, but it's out of sight of the stables and the horses consider it "off road." I was leading him with the kids on him and as we got further around the bend he started to come apart. I took the kids off and they went to play while I worked with him.

I had my new long lead rope and lunged him in the pasture. Initially he was just trotting with his head high, ears to the front, so paranoid you could have sworn there were crocodiles everywhere. I kept turning him, slowly getting more and more of his attention. by the end I could feel his energy change and he came down from his fear place - not all the way, but part of the way. The kids were getting done with all of this, so I couldn't quite go for another 30 minutes, which is probably what it would have  taken. But he was consistently responding to my verbal commands, turning his ear toward me for more of the time and acting much more respectful.

This, I realize, is what I need to do. Establish leadership away from our routine.

I think. I'm going to ask on one of my list serves and get some opinions...


Melanie said... old is Canyon, and what type of horse is he?

I am just asking, because in my lifetime of owning horses, I have know/had some, that just couldn't handle going out for rides alone. Is that what your goal with him is?

I know some people say that if they view you as their leader, they will go anywhere, and while this may be true, it doesn't always eliminate their innate fear of being alone, or their spookiness.

I have also found that more dominant, or alpha type, horses do better alone (because they are natural leaders) and that the more mild mannered ones, or omegas, tend to be more fearful/spooky.

This being said, one of the spookiest horses I have ever ridden was my mother's QH mare, who was the bossiest thing that you have ever!!! So what does that say about my theory???? She would go out alone with you, but she sure was a Nervous Nelly! Teeheehee!!! :)

Good luck with your endeavor!

Melanie said... after thinking about what I wrote, I guess what I am trying to say is that horses are like people, in that they are are individuals. I am not meaning to sound like a know-it-all, because I am not, and I just wanted to clarify that...these are just reflections from my own experieces. :)

Some are confident leaders, some are reserved but willing to do what is asked of them, some are shy, little, wall flowers, and others are quite fearful.

Maybe there is a way to eliminate spookiness, but I have never known of anyone who has eliminated it completely, or in all situations, with a horse that is prone to it.

The reason that I asked about Canyon's age is because a lot of young, or inexperienced horses, will be more fearful of new situations at first, and then get de-sensitized to them, or less reactive, as they age (due to experience).

Anywho...this is just my two cents! Hope it is helpful and not hindering.

Breathe said...

Hi Melanie,

It's very helpful. I hadn't come around to the thought that I couldn't get Canyon to stop spooking, but I've been coming around to the idea that maybe if I can just get his REACTION down from Def Con 6 (how high did that scale go anyway?) it would be manageable.

Canyon is 11 years old, and is lower on the totem pole but ambitious, if you know what I mean. Napoleon complex? LOL

You're right, he may not be a lone trail ride horse. I hadn't come around to accepting that. But I should be open to the possibility.

I would like to take him out on our own, but if he can't get there, I think I can deal with it. I'm a social kind of rider and prefer a partner any time possible. I dont even like to eat lunch alone!

Canyon is part pinto and part arab. I'm going to post a video of a round penning session we had and get some feed back... Hope you can take a look!

Thanks for the comment!!

Melanie said...

Glad that I didn't come off as too!!!

I know everyone likes to say that Arab's are so spooky, but I have ridden my share of other breeds that are just as spooky(if not spookier)as Arabian's supposedly are. Again, I think it boils down to the individual horse's personality.

The horse that I ride now, is an Arab, and he NEVER spooks...never! He never has either, even when he was younger. In fact, he is almost better when he is ridden out by himself, then he is when we ride with other horses. What is up with that??? LOL!!!