I haven’t talked a lot about Spirit on this blog for various reasons, one being he’s not my horse and the second being I don’t mess with him that much. He’s not necessarily my type of horse (I’ve never been a huge fan of Apps, he’s very quirky and is just a very different horse than Red.) but after losing Shalom, I kind of grew to appreciate having him around. He’s healthy, he’s rideable, he’s safe for the most part. So I’ve made it my new mission to build up a decent relationship with him. Mom has been interested in starting to do more groundwork with him, mostly natural horsemanship type things like join up and etc, so I’ve kind of been recruited for that since groundwork is my favorite thing ever. Thus far, we’ve worked on lunging (he doesn’t like lunging and is very rusty, but getting better.) and we’ve worked on his pushy attitude on the ground. He runs into me, he gets backed up and I repeat that. I’ve seen improvements already and I think he’s starting to get the whole “Oh I have to respect you on the ground, not just when you’re riding” thing. We’ve also worked on a few little tricks, like backing up with no touch, sidepassing with a tiny tap and etc. And of course, we’ve been working on a bond. I don’t expect him to be attached to me at all because he’s not the type of horse that is clingy or desires a ton of attention like Red is, but with a bond comes respect. It’s all about having a good relationship so we can work together. We’ve been doing a lot of grooming, talking and just hanging out. And I’ve also worked with him and Red together. Once we get the round pen set up, I’ll work on lunging them both at liberty because they really do work well together.
Yesterday, we fed earlier than normal so my mother and I could go out to get some last minute shopping done for Christmas. There were workers out fixing electric poles, scary trucks making a lot of noise, and men yelling. Spirit was laying there near the driveway, completely unfazed by everything. I take advantage of these moments because I think it’s a great way to see how much your horse trusts you. If they let me up close when they are at their most vulnerable, which would be laying down, I feel like I’ve accomplished a pretty decent amount of bonding and trust. Spirit isn’t necessarily the most trusting horse and he takes his time to warm up to people, and he’s also pretty picky on who he likes. He hates quite a few people. I walked up slowly to him and tried to shoo Red away (Red says OH MY GOSH MOM IS HERE I SHALL GO TO HER!) and sure enough, Spirit let me lay right next to him, pet him all over and even swing my leg over his back. Totally comfortable with it.
He had his eyes closed almost the whole time and even laid his head on my lap a couple times and just napped away while I was with him. It’s a pretty good feeling knowing that he, 1.) Trusts me enough to be next to him like that. 2.) Actually asked for more attention and enjoyed it. He’s barely every lovey-dovey and it was nice to see him soaking it in happily instead of trying to get away from me.
When he got up, he worried me for a few minutes because he was lame on his hind right leg, so we kept him walking for a minute and it worked out. By the time we left, he was totally sound. I’m guessing he had a bit of a cramp from laying down.
Also, I feel the need to mention that the only reason I left Spirit so quickly was because Red decided that it wasn’t okay that I was laying with him and trotted over. I’d rather not have Red spook Spirit whilst I’m sitting next to him on the ground, baha.