I’ve decided to make up a schedule-albeit a flexible one, because of the weather we’ve been dealing with since like, June-for Ransom starting this week. In short, he gets one day in work, one day off, and repeat. He’ll probably always have Sunday’s and Wednesday’s off because I’m always busy because of church and other plans, but with this schedule I feel like he won’t be overworked but will still be worked with enough. I’ve been careful not to overload his baby brain because they get frustrated so much easier than an older horse. Everything is hard for them, and I have to remember that even having a halter on is a new thing for him, and he has to really think and work just to let me halter him. He doesn’t have the attention span of Red, and where Red is typically okay and forgiving if we end on a slightly bad note, Ransom is not. Ransom remembers every bad thing that happens and remembers it for a long time. So I have to make sure that when we work, I don’t work him to the point of him being tired and frustrated, I have to work him lightly so that we can be guaranteed a good note to end on. So, I’ve been doing 15-20 minute sessions at the maximum, normally twice a day. I take him for one longish walk-the distance is growing each week!-on his work days, and then on his days “off”, we just focus on touching and occasionally some desensitization. He’s gotten much better with being hard to catch, although it’s easier for me to get his halter on when I have feed or when he’s in a stall because he’s still a bit scared and flighty when it’s around. Time, I know, will change that.
In other news, it has been 31 days since Ransom came home. I feel like I’ve had him for much longer, and so it’s been easy for me to get slightly discouraged when things happen. Like when he spooks over the halter while I try to put it on, or when he bolts around after we try to desensitize him to crops, whips, etc etc. But in reality, it has been a month. Here are some things that we’ve accomplished in 31 days:
- He can now wear a halter. Despite the occasional spook when we try to halter him, I can get it on safely. It takes more time than I want on some days, but he allows it, and that is a step forward.
- He leads calmly. Once the halter in on, he’s good to go. We’ve managed to extend our walks and he has continued without bolting, charging or rearing ever since my trainer came out. This is major, when just weeks ago, he would literally explode when we hooked the lead rope onto his halter. He does silly baby horse things, like spook over the puddle while on the lead, but he controls himself without spooking majorly.
- He has been GELDED. Praise the Lord. Not a stallion person.
- He now allows us to touch him and come up to him anytime in the pasture. Whereas 31 days ago, he would bolt away.
There have been a few other accomplishments, of course. I feel like there are positive changes every day, even very tiny ones. Those things add up.
My greatest inspirations through this process have been Ray Hunt, Tom & Bill Dorrance, and Buck Brannaman. So much gold in the things that they’ve said. Every time I’ve come to a hard point, I can find some inspiration in them. Everything has been slow and steady. I’ve learned not to rush, I’ve learned how to get along and how to make sure I don’t get angry. I’m excited to see where we’re at next month.
I managed to ride my other horse today, first ride in over a month due to the rain and mud. The arena was sloppy which prevented us from doing much in certain places but we still managed to get in some nice walk/trot work. The majority of the ride was about getting Red supple again. Due to him having so much time off of work and me neglecting his stretches/bending on the ground, he is SO stiff/hard to turn. A lot of it is also just him being stubborn, I know. He sees the chiro often and I know that while he does get stiff like any horse out of work, he’s not that bad, it’s mostly just him refusing to work or do what I ask. He’s a horse that needs to be ridden several times a week, and I just need to get more disciplined with this. While we had some rough moments with the bending, he actually behaved better than I expected and we got some nice work in. He felt great as far as soundness went and his trot felt wonderful.
As y’all know, I’ve drilled collection like nobody’s business on this horse. It has been our number 1 struggle for the 4 years that I’ve owned Red. Now, I believe that he has grasped collection and knows what I’m asking/how to do it, but he doesn’t have the strength to do it and stay in a good frame for very long. He needs time to build the topline up, so we won’t have a perfect frame until that happens. That said..he’s trying. So I can only imagine how nice he’ll look later on when he’s in better shape.
We’re trying to find out where that head goes…he will go low, and back before the abscesses from hell and the thrush, he was building his topline up and rounding his back VERY nicely with a beautiful low headset. Now, his back is still hollow when he lowers the head.
I asked him to raise his head up a bit more and he seemed to find it easier to get his back lifted after that, when I shortened my reins a bit more and asked him to lift. He seemed to just want to drag his head low before.
All in all, it was a good ride. If my plans go well and the rain holds off, we’ll ride again tomorrow and keep working on the same stuff for awhile.