So - I haven't updated last weekend (or the weekend before that i think) because - I didn't think we'd made progress.. Ok.so thats no reason NOT to update, I'm supposed to do it regardless, but I was pretty depressed, and didn't feel like updating.
But this weekend - was magic.
Something changed. I don't know what it was, but all I know is Sante got his game on.
I've been long reigning him every weekend for the last 4 weeks, in the round yard, out of the round yard, on trails - just getting his confidence up, while staying in zone 5, and also gettign him used to contact, and the concept of "getting on the bit" or getting his hind quarters involved.
He's done OK with the long reigning - we've had a few arguments where he's been defiant, damn near flipped over & killed himself, I've beaten myself up second guessing myself and whether I'm reading him right or wrong, wondering what the hell I'm doing wrong, and why we just arent' getting along under saddle.
Tried riding him last week, for hte first time in a month - the month off didn't change anything. He was argumentative, defiant, stubborn, and generally frustrated the absolute CRAP out of me.
I tried reverse psychology - let him put me in teh bushes, and then went bush bashing, let him turn and go home, and then asked him to CANTER home - to no avail, there was no change, no common ground, no connection.. And after a 2km ride, that ended up taking 2 hours - he ended up extremely sore the next day. Got a friend to ride him - she got as far as getting on him, and he just about sat down! All of this simply from arguing with me!
So yesterday, I went back to ground work - just working on cantering online and simple transitions. He blew me away!! all the long reigning has done wonders to his topline! He was going around "in the halter" - not pulling on the line like he normally does, and his canter wasn't rushed, he gave me a nice slow canter, with the correct bend, and generally look nice & left brained about it!
So today, I thought I'd long reign him over to the main agistment facility (by ourselves) and see how he fared.
Took me 10 minutes to catch him - which was not the start i was looking for, but his girlfriend was in season and he wasn't in the mood.
Finally got him out of the paddock, and decided to take away a few of his liberties - no grazing while saddling - which he wasn't very pleased about but got over - it became his responsibility to stand still while saddled.
When i was leading him through the paddock full of horses out to the back trail, he did his usual trick of stopping for no particular reason at all, so I simply got him backing up.. .. at a trot.. only did it three times, then realized that he didn't want to trot backwards anymore, so walking forward was the key.
He got out on the trail, and i set myself a rule - DO NOT GET INFRONT OF THE SADDLE. it was my task to stay in zone 3 - and simulate the riding position. After a few hundred metres, it became clear to me that I should have brought my 22ft leadrope.. the 12 foot didn't give me enough space to get in zone 5, the trails were very wet & boggy, and if sante happened to lose his footing & slip, he would have come straight down on me in z5 (which was where i was trying to stay for as much of the trail as possible). I ended up throwing hte leadrope over his back and just walking behind him.
We did the ENTIRE TRIP from Spelling to agistment (about 2.5km) at liberty. I stayed in z5 for the majority of the trip over, and never once did infront of z3.
He didn't argue.
He didn't try to go home
He didn't trip once
He was perfect. Just perfect!
WHY??????? WHY is he so perfect when i'm on the ground, and yet - the second i get on his back we argue?!?!
In the afternoon we did some arena work, and I got a friend to ride him - I can't explain how awesome he was. How much he offered. And i also can't stress the importance of long reigning. It really is a fantastic tool. This last month I've been working on getting him in a "good frame" and using his hind quarters, getting him "on the bit" at the walk & the trot, and today, for the first time ever - he trotted under saddle on the bit.
At first he was greatly apposed to the idea, but my friend was passively persistant in the proper position and finally he dropped his head for a stride. The release came immediately. And he licked and chewed. A few strides later she asked again, and shortly after he offered again, and immediately the release. After a few more minutes of this "ask", "offer" "release" conversation they were both having, Sante started offering the correct frame without my friend asking.
After 20 minutes, he was trotting a quarter lap of the sand arena with a very gentle contact.
This is my high headed bracy uncoordinated, pidgeon toed knock kneed thoroughbred we're talking about here, travelling around the arena like a show pony. And all with a minimum contact, soft, relaxed, and zero force.
The entire session lasted 20 minutes, and everyone ended the day feeling like a winner.
We decided to end the day with a float ride back to spelling, something that Sante has been struggling with for the last few months. He experiences major anxiety in the float, I've had to overcome a hell of a lot of his "avoidance techniques" in order to get him thinking about the try - and all what I thought were miserable trailer loading sessions have paid off.
Today he took a few steps on, then I asked him to get off. When i asked him to get on again, he took a few steps more, then I asked him to get off again, we continued this for a few more minutes, and then suddenly he was loaded. No brace, no fear, no trembling, no stress, no calling out to imaginary friends. He was loaded & calm.
The float ride back to spelling took a grand total of 3 minutes ( a trip that has previously left him sweating, trembling uncontrollably, and higly stresse), He stood calmly and waited to be asked to back of the float, even after the tail gate was swung open and nothing stopped him from getting off. He was 100% left brained.
We had the most awesome day that we've had in a very very long time. I've really hated myself for the last month, thinking that I was being cruel, that i was reading him wrong, but I think my change in strategy is paying off, I have his respect & trust back and I can't explain how awesome that is.
WYOMING! - Well, here we are in beautiful Cody, Wyoming to spend a month with Farrah Green at Double Doc Center for Artistic Horsemanship. Me, Mo and Surreal have jou...
6 months ago