Sorry this is late, but I spent a whole day unpacking & washing, then another day recovering from that, plus a day with Sante, to make sure he had recovered.
Shall I start at the beginning?
Ok. On Friday the 19th September, I loaded Sante onto a horse transport destined for a wee little town called Gobarralong. I had done a lot of work with him in the preceeding weeks, putting him on a float, or getting him to put himself on a float rather...
So when the truck turned up, everything went, well! He walked straight on like a champion.
That didn't stop me from fretting for the next 24 hours, having this horrible fear that he might have thought I'd sold him.
Anyway, after a 7 hour journey myself, I arrived at Gobarralong, and was told by some friends that had already arrived "Good luck catching your horse, we've been trying for 45 minutes, they're running around like loonies.
The paddock was massive.. massive as in about 10 football fields put together massive...
I couldn't see all 4 fences to know where abouts he was, so i just headed for the middle, up the hill and started calling out..
He found me! the look on his face was priceless. He was soooo happy to see me! I of course was happier to see him!!
He dawdled up to me, and we walked out of the paddock without an issue.
The following day was the start of the ride - 16km to base camp.
I decided to ride in a bridle with a drop nose band. I did this for a number of reasons, namely safety. This was my first trip away from our agistment facility with sante, and it was his first trip away from the valley in 4 years. He has a habit of avoiding the bit (hence all the natural hackamore work i've been doing) so I used the drop to remind him to listen to me.
He was a saint! He was a bit excited on the first ride (to be expected!! The scenery was breathtaking), he kept looking around, checking where the other horses were, and being extremely alert, but he wasn't really tense or anything like that. I made sure that I kept him on a casual rein when possible, only getting a contact when he started to jig jog, or rush, then immediately back to a casual rein.
After lunch on the first day, i took the drop noseband off.. he didn't need it, and I trusted him.
the next day, the ride was 22km! He did SOOOOO well!! We were advised of a severe weather warning, of extremely strong winds, hail & heavy rain. I was seriously considering not riding. But decided that if at any time i felt unsafe, I would simply get off and lead him.
We missed the brunt of the winds, they still picked up, and constant rain bucketted down, there was thunder & lightening, and Sante.. .was a gem. I didn't have to get off once. I didn't use the drop, he was just fantastic. A true partner.
The third day, we were vetted out, that is, Sante had a sore back, I decided it wasn't fair to ride him, so we spent the day chilling. To be honest, i preferred the day in the paddock to the ride.
Sante let me approach him lying down again!! Not only that, but he actually let me lie him down! he was in the sitting up position, and lightly applying pressure to his neck & shoulder, he actually followed the feel and lay down flat out.
It was so awesome. I lay down on the grass with him, scratching his nose, face, ears, neck everything! We seriously must have been lying down for at leats an hour I reckon. It was just the best best day!!
the next day was a rest day, so we didn't do a heck of a lot, but i had one person point out to me that the injuries on his whithers look like a classic case of injury from a racing pad!! The news that Sante might have been trained for racing didn't come as a surprise, considering how he switches off in the canter some times, and it so very head high.
The next day, we shouldn't have ridden! Sante was soooooo bad. I didn't realize that he had been off for two days, and not only was he getting full feed (which doesn't make him fizzy) but he was getting 3 biscuitts of hay a day. (Due to the high number of kilometres we were riding).
He was off the charts!! Trying to gallop everywhere, I ended up putting the drop noseband on him, and it didn't help, head in the air, he was a sweating dripping mess. In an attempt to direct his energy, at one stage we were trotting sideways uphill!! I have never managed to get more than 4 steps at a walk sideways (undersaddle). So it was a bit freaky. I looked for the positive, and realized that this was the first time I'd actually been able to stay WITH my horse when he's being fizzy. The last couple of times he'd thown major tantrums, I'd fallen straight off, I'd never managed to sit through the initial reaction, to control him, or cause him to go left brain again, so in that respect, thursday was a great day for us, each time, i managed to get him to go left brained so we could actually go back to a casual rein.
the following day, he was just defiant. Plain and simple! He argued with me the whole time. "No i won't go forward, no i wont trot, No I wont stop, I will not stand still, i will not sideways to the gate, I will not not not!!"
I realized that i was getting very very very angry with him, and was starting to pull on his mouth, out of pure anger for the fact that he was being such a shit, so I did the savvy thing and hooked my reins back to my rope halter, so as not to damage the mouth I have spent so long making responsive. I was able to be a little firmer using hte rope halter and we managedto ride the last 5km home in relative harmony.
The final day of the ride, we were both to tired to care, I didn't even put the bridle on him, we just rode the ride (only 10km) in the rope halter and dawdled the whole way home.
All in all the experience was awesome! My confiedence is soaring! I managed to raise $770 for Multiple Sclerosis research, I pushed thorugh the fear boundary with my horse, and I accomplished something i never thought i would have the confidence to do!
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