Working the attitude off my horse.
Thus far my experience with Cibolo is that he only works appropriately if I am very strong. I think of it as a sort of military type of toughness. Fair, but a level of intolerance with any variance. Intolerance that is met with immediately and with great intensity.
I came to the barn and he was in his stall, finishing up eating. He turned away from me along with his stall mate - expecting to be turned out.
But you don't turn your butt to me.
I tossed a rock at his butt and he was startled. He turned back around. I continued gathering my things. Then I went in to get him. He headed for the other gate.
Wrong answer. I whirled the rope around, snapping it on the ground. He dashed around for a second, dancing around, then turned to face me.
I put on his halter and took him out.
I believe I've finally figured out what it is that makes this such a problem for me. I find it tough to bond with a horse where I have to be this way. I have never regained the sense of bond I had with Cibolo way back in the beginning. I can get respect, I can get appropriate behavior. But I can't get partnership.
And at the end, after a session of being tough like that, I don't feel good, don't feel like I accomplished anything, even if everything went right in that he did what I told him to do. Instead I feel residual tight intensity, as if I've had to ride herd (an ironic statement if there ever was one) on a room of irritable teenagers and my neck is still tight.
We worked on gaits in the round pen. I only asked once, then I got intense the second time. He finally got it down, dripping with sweat. We both were.
After 45 minutes this morning he tossed a shoe, killing our plan to ride. I put him up after that, loaded with hay and some alfalfa. I need to get more weight on him.
My new test if I have him in the right space is trailer loading. Today, after his run around the round pen he loaded immediately, and no longer balking one iota.
Because I'm all over him like horse flies on sweaty flanks.
Maybe I am no good at this. Maybe I don't get that you can be strong like this without feeling like a jerk. I've tried to find that flat space, where the energy is intense but the anger isn't there. But he doesn't respond to that. Or somehow, the way I'm doing it is signaling a level of weakness that makes him feel insecure.
So I'm going to stick to being a witch, because I'd like to be safe and I can only be safe if he has a certain level of respect gained from my witchy attitude. I want to ride him, work on collection, and I can only do that with him in a 100% listening mode. And I can only seem to get this "snap to attention" and "yes ma'am" attitude with this witchy mood. And, as time has taught me, I have to be that way, all the time.
I can't imagine this is what I'm supposed to be getting from my horse time. But I'm out of ideas. I'm just going to demand the behavior I expect. I'm not going to trust he's capable of maintaining appropriate behavior if I don't get after him every single time. I'm going to ask, then I'm going to demand harshly until any time I ask, there's no question. I want softness, but I'm a million miles away from understanding how to get it with this horse.
And I'm not going to expect that to change anymore.
Because it won't.
I just don't know that it'll be "fun"