Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Muddy

The Good:

I placed an order with Cafe Press last week, and our goodies came in the mail! I ordered a sign to put out at the end of my driveway so that when I have little fundraisers here, people will know where to stop. Unfortunately, I didn't realize I had the wrong dates until I hit the submit button. I did go back and change it on the Cafe Press site, but of course by then it was too late for the items we'd ordered.

In addition to the sign, I ordered a big banner (no date on it) that can go on Sandy's stall in Sacramento, or hang from the trailer when we go places so that people will know who he is. Darling and I also got sweatshirts. We look right spiffy!

The Bad:

Is snow ever good? The only redeeming value this stuff has today is the bike race in our valley was canceled because of the weather. I hope they don't reschedule. The only thing worse than snow in my opinion is a bike race...makes me want to go bowling for bicycles. I know, I have a problem. Just don't ride on my road and you won't find your hiney smacked with a car door. We'll all get along just fine if you can remember that. And someone, please turn off the snow!

The Muddy:

I promised to drag you through the mud with me, did I not? Well, hustle your little selves on over to my place and help me clean up this saddle, will you?

Sandy has a problem. He was standing so nicely in his stall with me yesterday, doing such a big, brave boy job. I just don't know what got into him. We started our training session well enough. He led with his head almost in the correct position. He's really trying. He let me get close with the mop and didn't panic. I saddled him, and although he backed away a couple of steps, it's been over a week since he's seen the saddle, so I was right proud of him. I even convinced him to stand still enough to get the running martingale on, which meant I had to put my hand down between his legs and under his belly to fasten it to the girth. And he did great!

But then something happened. We were standing there unsaddling, I'd just finished uncinching (thankfully) when Sandy flew backwards in a panic. I'd been holding the lead rope, and when he came to the end of it he flung himself up into the air and sideways. His feet came out from under him and he rolled over onto his side in the mud.

How the saddle stayed on his back until the landing is beyond me, and I'm thankful it didn't get hurt. But it is darned muddy, to be sure.

I have absolutely no idea what set him off. The saddle isn't an issue for him, never is. Did a bird fly by the window in his stall and startle him? Whatever got him spooked seems to have originated from the front, not the side. Either way, this can't go on. I've never had a rearing horse before and this is certainly not the one I wanted to have it happen on. Then again, I'm being forced to work through my own weak areas while dealing with Sandy's.

I immediately resaddled him, and he was fine. I took it off, put it on, took it off. Nothing. Not an inkling of whatever had set his hiney out of the stall so quickly.

Then I got tough. Sandy will stand tied patiently, but if I'm close to him and trying to brush or saddle, he gets upset and pulls and rears. Not safe for me to be close when he does this, but he doesn't do it when I'm not there. So out came the dreaded rake while he was tied with his belly rope. He reared, flung himself from side to side, reared some more and worked up a pretty good sweat out there in the rain and snow and mud. At one point he flung himself in my direction and I was lucky not to get hurt. But after what seemed an eternity (five minutes?) he gave up. I raked him good all over. I pet his face and offered him a treat which he gladly accepted.

There are days when I wonder why God sent me home with this horse. Moments like this have me thinking I may be in over my head. And yet, somehow both Sandy and I seem to survive each other's inadequacies. He's stretching me, making me reach beyond my own comfort zone. Between Sandy and Curt, I may just turn into a horse trainer yet.


Kathy M said...

Could be that he is letting things happen until he is overwhelmed, and then reacting? or maybe there was some small thing he that frightened him and he just felt too confined in that moment?

Symphony tended to startle in place and look to me to see if they should be frightened. Chester and Dyna were both pretty steady, though Chester crowds if you let him. Freedom at first didn;t think he needed a leader at all. lol It's amazing how, like children they can be so different

Just hang in there and keep on with the trust building.

Jessie said...

Turn into a horse trainer?? You already ARE a horse trainer!! Sandy and Curt can only make you better :-)

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the device some trainers tie horses with that gives when the pull back like that and then you canpull them right back up. The circle of metal with a tounge like thing up the center. We have several and that is what we use any more to tie up with. Stopped the pulling back shortly. Star did that rearing bit but in a one day of working with her she did not ever do it again. Keep up the lessons and he will get it. You are doing good. Lea

Christy said...

oooohhhhh, good job! I think that's exactly what you needed to do!! and Jessie's right, you already ARE a horse trainer!!

Rising Rainbow said...

Hmmmm, I'm trying to picture this. The belly rope still allowed him to rear. Is that correct? Or was he fighting everything and pulling out all the stops, including throwing himself over sideways.

My understanding from Mike was that some horses would throw themselves on the ground when fighting rounding up and being confined but they would eventually get over that. Eventually in this case didn't last long. His average time teaching horses to get soft and round was under a couple of weeks. But he worked with them on it six days a week to be sure they were good and trained.

I have dealt with rearing horses. Most, if not all, horses can not rear and go forward at the same time. So part of the solution when dealing with a horse that rears is pushing the horse forward. If he is fighting and you are in a position where you can push him forward, it will help him find his way to figuring it out.

But be careful. Dealing with a horse that explodes like that with no warning can put you in jeopardy. Even when he's being good, be sure you're prepared with an escape for you if things should change abruptly.

When I have felt in over my head, is when I have been able to learn the most. I suspect the same will be true for you.

Good luck.

Tracey said...

Thanks for the kind words of encouragement, ladies!

Kathy, I considered the overwhelmed aspect, and certainly that could be part of the problem. It's surely based on his lack of confidence. I think the flipping incident was separate from that; but could have been something going past the barn window.

MiKael, when he flipped over, he hadn't been tied. He was standing in his stall (run in shed style) and shot backwards, then up when he hit the end of the lead which was in my hand. After that, I tied him, and yes with the belly rope he still managed to go up. Not high into the air, but a couple of feet. High enough to be dangerous either from the ground or on top :) He did, however, give up the fight when he realized that it was a lot of effort and no gain at his end.

Lea, a Blocker Tie Ring; I bought one but haven't put it up. I've always just looped the rope around a post. It does basically the same thing; creates drag/tension so the horse can feel the pressure but still allows them a bit of movement and giving them a moment to mentally think things over. Trouble with this approach with Sandy is that he pulls a few inches, then a few more inches, then a few more...and I've got to step back with him then readjust the rope, then step back and's like some little dance where he always wins because he's been able to avoid any progress.

Today's weather was so bad that I didn't go out to do anything with him outside of hand him some grain. Tomorrow I'm busy most of the day, but will try to tie him at some point and get into his space with my rake again. I've got to get this boy turned around before it all becomes habit.

Kathy M said...

You are totally right that looping the rope work the same as the blocker, (the more loops the more pressure it takes)

Hmm I was at Lifesavers on thursday and there is a gelding there my daughter adores. She played with him on the obstacles In hand and fell in love. He was GREAT to play with at Liberty, stuck to me like glue except for jumping the barrels. REALLY nice boy except he's been a spaz under saddle.

You can saddle mount and start riding but he doesn't really breathe or relax. Then sometimes its like he wakes up and panics.

So they were saddling everyday until it meant nothing. Now they are mounting walking getting off, waiting for him to relax and mounting again until it means nothing.

I know that plan sucks with time ticking away, but you aren't the only one not riding yet :D I'm sure the weather has you about ready to scream, (probably isn't helping his willingness to work either!

Tracey said...

Ha! Yes, the weather is getting to me big time, lol!

I can wait until he's ready...don't have a choice, do I? But the ticking clock does make a person a bit of a mad hatter, doesn't it? LOL! But I plan on approaching it pretty much like you've mentioned, just getting him used to it one step at a time until it's no big deal. He doesn't mind walking through the mud anymore (good thing or he'd be planted and sprouting little Sandy's before long), and he's relaxing when I step around the corner in his paddock. It's just taking longer than I'd hoped, and I'm getting anxious to ride. May have to saddle up Firecracker and get her going, eh? Of course, still have to worry about the slick mud =(