All is well and usual on the Red front-I’ve ridden him a few times here and there but we’ve been going through a horrible time with bad weather and constant rain. I thought yesterday was going to be nice and was excited because my trainer scheduled a little lesson with Ransom and I and wanted to meet him, and so I planned on just heading up there early, riding and spending most of the day up there. Turns out weather wasn’t on my side and it was raining off and on and the arena was a mess. Luckily I didn’t have to cancel with my trainer although I was frozen by the end of things. Very worth it though!
Ransom has done great after being gelded. No problems at all, textbook in every way. So far our only problem that we just haven’t been able to get over is problems while leading. He’s a big dude for a yearling and I’m a small chick for a 17 year old 😉 so I’ve been using caution but also making sure I’ve stuck with it. He had improved in small ways but I knew I needed to go ahead and have someone out to show us the ropes and get the bolting under control. The truth is, I don’t have enough experience-or bravery, lol-with colts to do this 100% on my own and I’ll admit it, I’m so grateful to have an awesome trainer who was willing to come out on such a cold day, offer her time herself and spend time up there with us then go as far as to say she didn’t want to charge us.
Ransom, in short, did amazing. I am seriously so impressed with his baby brain. The lunge rope was freaky to begin with, and she immediately jumped in, put him on the line and started trying to get him to engage his hindquarters and move off from the pressure. He started bolting and wanting to pop up to escape, but she kept at it and within 3-4 minutes he had settled down so much. I was too busy being a paranoid mom to take photos or videos of how he acted in the beginning which I regret like crazy now because the difference was night and day. It would be extremely dull of me to write about the entire session because leading a horse and working with the basics like these isn’t exactly thrilling, but it was incredibly neat to watch him put things together. He tried extremely hard all day, you could see the wheels in his mind turning. We came to the conclusion that after the first moment or so, it isn’t fear causing him to act up but just pure confusion, trying his best to hurry up and figure out what we’re asking. He knows when he’s done good and he really wants to do good. Noticed even more just how willing and smart he is.
He had a habit of getting “stuck” when we started getting him to lead forward. He would stand and refuse to budge, then if it went on long enough, he’d revert to bolting. We quickly discovered that the trick was to go to his side and ask him to move off and move his booty, and then he’d start leading again once he felt more comfortable. Switching directions, asking him to back up, were all new tricks that we learned to be very helpful in those moments where he got a bit stuck or stressed.
Where he freaked out at first over us moving to his side and asking for him to turn and circle, he started getting SO responsive when he saw what we were asking for. I’m used to horses like Red who, as much as I love the stubborn jerkface, need you to DEMAND, not just ask. Ransom was starting to click so much with this stuff that all he needed was a very subtle cue, and he was doing his best to follow through. We worked on backing up which he picked up just as quickly,and then of course with leading forward without the bolting forward.
She had him leading around the pasture so quickly, and he went from head straight in the air, ready to run or blow up, to just walking around calmly, head low, halting when she stopped, backing when she backed up, and turning the second she started asking for his hindquarters.
Then we moved on to feet.I’ve picked up one foot and it went moderately well, he has no problem with me messing with them but he’s very unsure. First time she picked it up, he thought he was going to fall and kind of tried his best not to freak out. Second time, he offered his foot for her and let her hold it up for a few seconds longer. Third time, he offered it and was much calmer.
Before she came, we also had another breakthrough. I’m a firm believer in the whole, if a horse lets you with them while they’re laying down it’s a sign of trust thing. Granted, a lot of horses just have that natural trust in them and are teddy bears, but most of my horses have been very slow to trust people when they’re down. It took Red awhile, took our old Appaloosa awhile, and it’s always taken my rescues forever to trust us enough unless they were just too sickly or weak to not be down or to get up quickly when they spotted me. Considering Ransom had never been handled up until 3ish weeks ago and was very scared of human contact, I didn’t expect that he’d let me close. Yesterday, I saw Halfpint, Blossom and Ransom all down and went up to see what he’d do. Halfpint and Blossom got up but he stayed there, and let me love all over him until Halfpint back over and started stepping on his legs. 😉
It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this strong of a connection with a horse…honestly, it rivals what I feel for Red. He’s so different in nearly every way and I really, really like this colt. Fingers crossed that the rest of training goes this nicely!