I’ve ridden several times since the last post, and as usual, I’ve worked Ransom nearly every day since then as well but I’m a horrible blogger and haven’t posted in…awhile. There hasn’t been many new occurrences, although Red is acting off this month yet again, as he did last year, but I know the problem and he should be back to normal soon. Nothing a good trim won’t solve- his abscesses last year caused his hoof to grow out awkwardly and it’s throwing him off balance when riding, hard for a horse that is already hard to get balanced, so luckily this year it isn’t total lameness that has struck us down. 😉
Ransom has taught me quite a number of really valuable lessons just by working him through things. While I’d say I have some experience with starting a horse just based on retraining Red and working with our rescues, not being entirely sure what they do know, and by working with a few young horses that are owned by friends, I don’t have that much of it. Ransom has been a whole new thing, and I can’t even write down everything new that comes up, that kind of hits me across the head and makes me realize that I could be doing this or that better. My whole goal for Ransom has been avoiding trouble, not being scared of it, but avoiding making him uncomfortable or troubled about working with me. I don’t want him to see the halter and run, or get scared in the arena when he sees the whip, or to get so filled with new information that he has no other option but to shut down his baby brain.
My thing every day when I plan on working with him, whether it’s grooming him in the barn or lunging him in the arena, fly spraying him or putting a pad on, it’s all based on what new things I can throw at him without him running from me, but running to me. If he puts confidence in me, it will make the riding down the road much easier, knowing that he feels like he can rely on me when things get scary, or just knowing that he doesn’t hate the idea of me being so close (aka, strapped on his back like a weirdo.) A lot of people train around the mindset of let’s just break them, throw new things at them, saddle them up and let them bolt and buck and just get it out of their systems, but I don’t want that. I don’t want him to feel like he has no other option but to go run and blow up. If he does, that’s okay, but if it gets to that point, of him being scared? I’ve done something wrong, I’ve skipped over a crucial step. There’s a difference between a colt acting like a colt and going for a frisky run around the arena vs. being scared to death of whatever I’ve just done. If he’s scared, I want him coming to me, taking confidence from me, not running in the opposite direction.
I’ve tried to get one of my heavier western pads on him a number of times but it’s always resulted in him letting me know very clearly that he doesn’t trust it. He’s not a fan, he’s not ready. While he’s never gone crazy, he’s bolted around me on the lead and stared at me like “Why would you do that?” English pads, being so much lighter and smaller, aren’t as scary, but considering he’s going to be a western horse…that won’t work all that well for long. 😉 In the last week I’ve seen some small differences in him and I figured that he’d be ready for another step. So, we lunged (horse lunges better and better every day.) did some groundwork, and tried again.
And it was like nothing ever happened. I took it off, then threw it on quickly again, and repeated it, and he never cared much at all. It’s amazing how taking time can change things, trying once and letting them think things over then trying again later. So far, I’ve never forced him to rush into things that make him uncomfortable, and I think for that reason, he’s put a lot of trust in me and has remained pretty darn calm and willing to do what I ask him. Partnership. Something I need to learn a lot more about, but we’re getting there.