Sunday, December 7, 2008

MiKael Meets Richard.................the ghost horse part 2

It's been almost a year since the fall I took off of my young Arabian horse, Reflection. I haven't really said much about what's happened with the horse since then except for the one post Life.........................and Eight Second Rides telling of Richard's first day with the horse. Since then Richard has had a couple of months to get this horse safe enough for me to ride.

The fact is that the eight second rides have been few and far between lately. I'm not sure that Richard is all that thrilled with that aspect of their relationship because I know he actually gets a big kick out of things getting a little crazy on the back of a horse. He laughs and says it makes him feel young again. For me it would be something more like seeing my life flash before my eyes (not to mention that fear would go to even deeper levels in my psyche) but then that's why Richard is fixing my horse and not me.

That first day Richard experienced the eight second rides, he decided to go back to square one with the horse. That meant heading for the round pen and sacking out and dead weight, etc.

At first the horse acted like he didn't understand any of those things, even though he'd been through this whole process a couple of times. However, once he got the process down things seem to fall into place pretty well.....but there were exceptions............exceptions that messed with my mind and fed my fear.

One exception seemed to be when the horse first saw his shadow with a rider on top. According to Richard the horse stood on his hind legs and leapt as part of his flight from the dreaded monster pursuing him. Behavior like this I have never experienced on a horse, and certainly not this one. It was hard to believe his behavior had digressed to this level. That called for lots of night time sessions so Richard could teach the horse how to deal with that scary beast.

While Reflection might have a heightened flight response compared to lots of horses, it doesn't take long for him to figure out when he's been dumb. You can tell by the expression on his face when he's finally put 2 and 2 together..........sheepish is something this horse hates. He works really hard not to wear that look often. Once convinced he's been stupid, he's over it..........or that's how it seems. I guess time will tell if that "over it" is real or just wishful thinking on our parts. Me, I'm holding out for more proof.

Another exception reared it's ugly head last month. Richard set up 4 pens for horses at the far end of the arena. One of the inhabitants of those pens is a 2 year old filly that evidently Reflection has decided is pretty darn cute. The first time Richard tried to ride my horse by the filly's pen, Reflection decided he might just join that filly inside her pen.

I showed up on the scene shortly after this episode. Richard had just finished schooling Reflection. He had finished up riding only in the end of the arena away from that filly. He said it was the only way he could get the stallion to behave.

This was the last thing I ever expected to hear about one of my stallions. I have never tolerated any kind of naughty behavior like this from them. Reflection had sure never even tried anything so egregious as this stunt he'd pulled with Richard.

In my mind it was time for some reminders about what his behavior should be. Richard was thinking along the same lines. He was more than happy to have me be the one to school the horse through this kind of behaviorl.

.......but that schooling came with me on the ground leading the horse. There was no way I was going to ride him with behavior like this going on. I can only imagine what that would do to my fear level.

I took Reflection off Richard's hands and we walked back and forth at the end of the arena where the filly lives. At first I had to spank him for trying to drag me to the pen or for talking. Before long the horse was walking just like the gentleman I've always taught him to be.

Richard, however, didn't really want to deal with stallion issues, I think. He was hoping that me doing the schooling would fix the problem once and for all. The horse, however, was smarter than that. He soon figured out that he could get away with "those" kinds of things with Richard. Because Richard was letting him get away with little studly behaviors before he even got anywhere near that filly, the horse figured he might just get away with more when he was near he had to try.........what little boy wouldn't?

The next opportunity the horse had to "visit" that filly, that's exactly what he tried to do. Standing on his hind legs the horse tried to climb over those panels to join her in her pen. Not a pretty picture and definitely not a fun ride, even by Richard's standards of "fun rides."

Again I was called in to school the horse. This time I walked Reflection by that filly's pen and this very smart stallion did exactly what he knew he should. Other than one very muffled rumble deep his throat the horse didn't make a single wrong move. He stayed in his space, didn't get pushy and went only where he was expected to go. There were no overtures towards the cute lass in the pen even when I walked this young stallion right under the nose of that filly. It was obvious that Richard was the only one that could fix his problem with this horse.

Now I have to be perfectly honest. Anytime I can be on the top of a training issue with a horse over Richard, I feel a bit smug. Not necessarily "smug" as in better than ........but "smug" as in this old broad can still hold her own. At my age it's nice to get that opportunity from time to keeps me hanging in there I think.......especially when I'm dealing with fear with this horse. It's a good reminder to those parts of me that I really can handle this horse.

To be continued.................

Ghost Horse part 3

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  1. Wow! Kudos to you for training him to control his studly behaviors while on the ground. You should feel a little bit smug. You've still got it.
    And I bet you'd even be able to exert your presence on Reflection while in the saddle, too. He already respects you.

    The spooking from his own combined rider-horse shadow is a little bit worrisome, though. I'd be more than a bit worried about riding him while he's got so many serious spooks.

    Good luck!
    New Mexico

  2. You and Richard make such a wonderful team that whatever this special horse needs you guys will fix. I love this attitude about stallions behaving.

  3. Funny how Reflection was scared of a "reflection". I am glad he got that over with. I am like you, I can do with out 8 second rides. How great that you can get him to behave. That is really great!!

  4. I think you're right in thinking Richard is the next in line to train the studly behavior our of this horse. He respects you, but not Richard if he keeps acting up near the filly. And by the way I would feel 'smug' too, if I could handle something my trainer couldn't with my horse. There's nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself there, it will help get rid of some of the fear of this horse,I think.

  5. MiKael I can only imagine how your "parts" are reacting to all this fear associated with Reflection. Hang in there and yes, remind them that you DO know more than a thing or two about how to train horses.

    Take your time getting back up on Reflection. There is no rush since Richard is working with him. You want that first ride to be a confidence building success, not a fear reinforcing failure. Take your time.

  6. I understand all about fear. But...I think you AND Richard need to takle the filly together. I think he needs to ride while you either walk beside or lead him. Maybe not right next to the pen either the first time or two. I would make this a gradual transition both because I would not want this *very* smart horse to discriminate between you and Richard any more than he already has, but also I would not want this to become an area of conflict and/or habit.

    I have had dogs who have been very well behaved while I was there only to have the behavior fall totally apart when I was not...and I would not want to see this happen to such a lovely stallion.

  7. I know you will have the patience and perseverence to make this horse awesome and it sounds like you have someone who shares that, that is so cool. Can you adopt me (and my 4 horses) LOL.

    Still worrying about your recent surgery, what where how and recovery. Take care (((Hugs)))

  8. I had no idea you had that fall, I'm trying to figure out why I missed those posts! That's one hell of a way to injure yourself! Oh, I just saw why I haven't seen the was a year ago.