Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unraveling Horse Time Part 2

After thinking long and hard about what I enjoyed back before things unraveled, I had time on Tuesday to go to the barn.

Anxiety was rolling in my stomach. It was windy, it would be close to feeding time, I was tired. But I drove to the barn anyway.

Adam met me there but his back was acting up and he was relieved to hear I wasn't going on a trail ride.

I went to gather Cibolo, who avoided me at the urging of his herd mate Amigo. It wasn't bad though, and in a moment he stopped letting Amigo drive him and waited for me.

We headed straight for the round pen. No saddle. A few quick "hide the butt" on the way which required a sternness reminder to gt him to hop out of the way. To take things seriously. But my energy was very low, very calm.

At the round pen we didn't lunge. He's now dropping his head to the ground with just two pushes (as opposed to the 5 and 6 we were working through before) and by the end, just one signal was working.

We did the things I used to do with Canyon. Worked on focus. Worked on moving away from pressure. He responded well. I didn't have the bit, so I rode tied the lead rope to the halter. Standing rock still by the round pen panel I got on him bareback.

I felt the anxiety in my stomach roll around as I rode we just walked.

Great. Okay. Just ride anyway. Breathe.

I went in circles until I warmed up and relaxed. Then we worked on pulling his nose in. I learned that a low pull on the reins is the signal he understands to pull his nose in (think at thigh level is nose lever, waist is back up lever). I found him trying to decipher my signals and me working to understand his tries. When I kept trying to back him up with the reins too low and he started trying different things, I recognized what was going on.

He was trying.

And when I "got" it, he worked flawlessly.

It was nice. It was simple. I felt like we were communicating. Felt like the respect was working and we were

I read this at Jill place and felt pretty good about my progress.

Then today I met up with Cibolo's previous owner. I told her what happened at Conception and she said:

You need to kick that horse's ass. Do not baby him.

Which sort of brings me full circle and I felt the sadness rise again.

They want a boss. They want you to be firm with them.
If he pulls that on you, you pull his face off.

(she was speaking metaphorically, of course. I think.)

He knows better. There's no excuse.

Am I up to being a horse owner? Do I have the nature to kick a horse's ass with great regularity?

The latter - no. As to the former...

Sigh. I was feeling like maybe I could. Now I just don't know.


Life at Star's Rest said...

Stop second guessing yourself! Listen to your heart and the experience you just had, not someone who doesn't know you or your horse. Or training techniques that you seem to have moved past.

I thought about you this last weekend when I audited the Mark Rashid clinic I decided I wasn't up to riding in. One of the riders had a mare who did lots of fussing, lots of small bucks, pinned ears etc. She said she wasn't afraid of her horse, but that riding just wasn't fun anymore. Mark responded, 'Well, we can fix that.' And sure enough he did. Both horse and rider were different beings at the end and both connected with each other and happy. I think you would find a way of working with horses that you would feel comfortable with through Mark Rashid.

Even though I wished I had ridden, I was wise to wait. We're planning an 'all girl' trip to do one of Mark's week long intensives next summer...want to join us? ;) Carmon

Breathe said...

Carmon, you are right. The reality is I have to try to do this in keeping with me.

Sign me up. I'm committing right now to going. Tell me where and when and how much and I'll put the money down (thank you IRS for a nice rebate for a change).

Life at Star's Rest said...

Me again... :)

One thing I took away from Mark's clinic seems to fit here. He talked about 'consistancy, dependability, trust, peace of mind'.

Consistancy by the rider leads to the horse being able to see us as dependable. Dependability leads to trust on both sides. Trust ultimately leads to peace of mind, again for both of us.

You and Cibolo haven't been together nearly long enough to even have time to establish consistancy, much less any of the others. I think doing the work you just did in the round pen is the way to start that process and carry it forward to all of the rest. Carmon

Life at Star's Rest said...

Cool! Your email is one I lost when my computer crashed so email me at and we'll stay in touch about it! Carmon

Kate said...

The round pen work you did sounds great - he was listening and trying - why in the world would you want to "kick his ass" to quote his prior owner - and there's a reason she's his prior owner and not his current owner - which is you. Do the Mark Rashid clinic if you can - it'll really make a difference - but you're on the road already - I can see and hear it.

Paint Girl said...

You do not have to kick your horse's ass just to get him to do what you want. There are numerous ways to get him to understand what you are asking without beating him. A lot of people take that route, beat him and he will do it. So not true.
My Paint is very stubborn and a slow learner, but I don't beat her when she isn't getting what I am asking her to do, I just keep at it until she understands what I am asking of her, she will get it, it just takes longer then my Arab or my Mustang. All horses learn differently, just like humans.
I am glad you decided to try the Mark Rashid clinic. I love going to clinic's, and learn so much from them. I have yet to ride my horse at one, but would love to someday!
Good luck, and hang in there!

Lil Mama said...

So I just read your blog for the first time. Sounds good. Is this your first horse or are you just getting back into it? If it's your first, please don't give up. Go to the clinic. Listen to lots of people and then use your best judgment. Remember too, there are thousands of horses out there. You may just need to find the right one.

Breathe said...

To be fair I think she just meant AT the ride in Conception when he was wigging out.

And getting sterner worked, when my buddy took that tact.

So it's confusing to me. But I know I have to find what will work - for me and hopefully for Cibolo.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I don't think you have to step out of your own comfort zone and become aggressive or violent. Sometimes it's just enough to think stern thoughts or get stern with your body language. Horses quickly learn angry expressions on human faces or make the connection between a growl and a correction. When my horses misbehave when I'm on the ground, all I have to do is stomp my foot in their direction and they fear me.

Veronica said...

I know exactly how you feel. I'm only just getting back into horses now and I feel like I've been thrown in the deep end with two rescued mares. One is submissive and sweet, but flighty and the other is bossy and stubborn, but bombproof. I know that I can do this, but I'm still left with a huge rolling pit of anxiety when Belle freaks and Emma pushes.

And I've not even ridden them yet!