Monday, June 28, 2010

Finding our way in the rain

I went to the barn on my own this evening, just in time for someone up above to knock over a bucket and dump an inch of rain.

But I'm not scared of rain. After my clinic experience I have the gear to deal with rain. Me and rain, we have a thing now. It says "can you handle it?" and I say "pour it on!"

Besides, in my life I have to ride when I have time, not when the Chamber of Commerce weather hits.

I pulled Cibolo away from his herd just prior to the downpour, and he came with me with all the enthusiasm of a sullen teen. I wonder when we'll get back to the place where he's semi enthused to see me. It makes me sad that we still aren't there.

When the deluge started he began to get worried - the rain was ridiculously loud on the roof of the barn. Getting dressed in my gear he was briefly curious and gave a a good sniff over. I wonder if he recognized the gear from our clinic, or if it was just interesting the way the nylon sounded.

When we walked out in the rain, he was a mess. You'd think he'd never stood in the rain before. "You live OUTSIDE, you nutcase."

He tucked his head in and his ears pointed back. He danced around on the lead line like he never has before (he usually has impeccable ground manners). He was completely mentally disconnected from me.

So we walked out to the round pen. We had the longest session we've had there in ages. Took me forever to get him to listen to me. I think part of it was the rain, part was what was unwound from the ranch ride. But, after a good 20 minutes we were doing okay. Not perfect, but at least he was listening, dropping to a walk, then going in a trot.

Still I had a feeling he wasn't quite there. Sure enough when I went to bit him, he refused. So I took off the reins and sent him out, this time at a full gallop. Then, there it was. A crow hopping bucky thing. A horsey raspberry, as it were.

So we did some quick turns. It really seems like I have to go to this place with him sometimes. Not with anger, but really, really firm. Turn, then turn again.

I thought of the time Kathlyn was working with the gaited horse that was so rude to his rider. She would occasionally really up the pressure on the horse during ground work. Somehow, though it seemed angry if you looked at just the motions, it was just an intense energy. That horse needed that to "get" it, for some reason.

I think Cibolo has this part of his personality too. It's not a huge part of his personality, but it's there. I slowed him down, got him to go into each gait, then stopped. Then we bitted up easily.

I wonder if I should have gotten into high gear immediately, but I really think we had to work through his weird rain anxiety first. If I had gone all out immediately, I think he would have injured himself. That was my gut, anyway. We had to open the doors to the church before we could have the come to Jesus part of our program.

After that I was confident he was with me all the way and we did a few trot runs in the round pen to make sure I had my balance and he did too. Then we went on a great trail ride around the barn. No issues.

So I'll take his ad off craigslist. (JUST KIDDING! LOL)

Seriously, though, I think this is what I will be working on in October. I want to find the partnership with this horse. I want to understand where I'm getting too soft that I can't see, that I'm missing. I need to be more consistent so he doesn't feel the need to take over. I get the sense that he's looking for something that I'm not giving him consistently. I would like to get our relatioship back on the right track, but can't figure out what's making it jump the rails.

Hopefully I can make my own discoveries along this path...

(Okay, quick diversion - go check out the blog by a dog here, and you can get a picture of our new kittens! Yes! We are crazy! and please leave a comment... It'll make my kid's day.)

BTW, someone asked about my Cavallos. I have to say, I've been nothing but pleased with these boots. They stay on - even in thick mud and water at the endurance ride - where easy boots were falling off all over. They are easy to put on and take off. They do a great job protecting his feet - Cibolo seems happy to put them on. I'd say they are tough to clean with all the velcro, but that's the only down side. I imagine I'll need a new pair every year - it's so rocky out here, I doubt I'd ever feel completely comfortable riding him barefoot over some of the terrain.


Anonymous said...

If you aren't in a hurry, and take it one day at a time, dealing with the horse you have today (and not an ideal horse in your mind), you'll get there. It's going to take exactly as long as it takes, and you'll get there - you're already a good way down the road. Now you have the tools and confidence to do it, and that confidence will give him the leadership he needs to grow more comfortable. There's no need to be disappointed that you're not getting there faster - just enjoy every day of the journey, including the challenges and set-backs - they're just part of the program and allow you opportunities to work on various things. You're doing great, and so is he!

Anonymous said...

I just love how in tune you are and are trying to be with Cibolo. If only a fraction of people with critters would take the time to do the same, this world would be such a better place.

Wolfie said...

I can really relate to your comments "I want to understand where I'm getting too soft...... I need to be more consistent so he doesn't feel the need to take over." Patience and consistency are not necessarily words I relate to readily! Glad this ride was a positive experience for you.

BTW, I commented on your dog's blog. :-)

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Maybe he was just having a bad day -- didn't feel so good, or just not motivated. But it does all seem to be in the working it thru, which it sounds like you do so well. You are really good with horses....much better than I. I enjoy reading your blog.

Fragrant Liar said...

You're not one to give up easily, so I see you finding success with Mr. Cibolo. Maybe he's just an ornery one?

Gail said...

I can learn a lot from you.

jacksonsgrrl said...

Oh Winter. You are so awesome (and yes, I DO remember, well equipped for the rain!)... I am SO SO SO absolutely certain that Jackson can read every thought that runs through my head at EVERY moment, that there are days I DO have to walk away. I too, want the partnership. Some days, I too have to deal with the horse's butt end walking away in the pasture. Sounds like you did well with what you were feeling. Wish I could say I would have done half as well. But I try.
My trainer Alison has put it all into perspective when it comes to blaming myself. (And Kate's comment on the horse you have TODAY is right on! That Kate, WOW!). Anyway, one day she said to me--an eventer, just turned 80, who still rides, and is from England; so hear this in her English droll please-- "My Dear. Your horse will forgive you ALL of your honest mistakes. The real question is: WHEN WILL YOU?"
Going to see the kitties now!
Oh, go to my blog to see my long winded reply about boots and other meanderings...