Friday, December 4, 2009

The Adventure Continues.........Schooling the Lunch Break

The Adventure Begins

I left the warm up arena with a sweaty, frothy Arabian horse. I haven't seen the horse this lathered since those days with a trainer who used to pick regular fights with him. At least during those times there was an obvious reason for the distress of my horse.

Not that there weren't valid reasons now, but it was really more a matter of unfortunate timing than true jeopardy for my horse. Yet just looking at this sweaty condition was enough to tell how upset my horse was over this place he thought was riddled with all sorts of unknown dangers.

Even headed back to the stalls, Legs just wouldn't let go of that fear. It wasn't until we rounded the corner going down the center aisle of our barn that the stallion showed any sign of relaxing. The horse went from high alert to exhausted with one of the deepest sighs I've ever heard. Looking back at it, I guess I'm lucky he relaxed at all.

Fixing this issue wasn't going to be easy and it wasn't going to happen in a ride or two. I knew from the intensity of the horse's fear, we were going to spend a lot of time schooling. Whenever the arena open was open for schooling Legs was going to be confronting his fear.

Checking the time and the schedule when I arrived back at Legs' stall, I figured there wasn't going to be much time before the lunch break so I threw a cooler over my horse and tied him in his stall. Then I grabbed something to eat and checked with Jesse to see when he planned on schooling Rhet and Gypcy. Then I tuned in to the paddock announcer waiting for the call the Ford Truck Arena was available for schooling.

I wonder if my horse would have come down at all had he known we were going right back into the fire.Legs walked back up that center aisle with his head nearly to his knees. It was clear he was exhausted from the morning struggle. Yet the second we turned that corner heading for the Ford Truck Arena, my horse went on high alert. Every muscle in his body tensed as he started looking for trolls.

The horse did pretty well with the cross aisle in our barn other than his head erect stance. Then when we crossed the road and headed up the aisle toward the Ford Truck Arena, Legs tried to bolt at every little sound. Normally things that wouldn't cause a twitch were now causing absolute terror. People were giving us a wide berth as I tried to walk him up that aisle to the Ford Truck warm-up.

Despite the horse's bulging eyes and flared nostrils, I took him off to the side of that warm-up putting his nose in a make shift corner so I could bridle him on and then mount. Legs co-operated but I could tell he wasn't happy about this. All the horse could think about was what might get him next.

My usual way of schooling Legs would be first I'd ride him with a device that Richard calls an aperture. Once the horse was going correctly with that, then I'd move on to riding him in the bridle. Considering the current situation, I figured I'd be lucky if I could get what I wanted at all, let alone move on to the bridle. That would have to wait for calmer times.

As I suspected the horse went into the Ford Truck Arena on his tip toes. His speed was good but his frame was a bit animated for a western pleasure horse. Still the horse was trying...........and that's all I was really asking. I just hoped that no "real" scary things would happen to re-enforce his already rampant fear.

I started off with my usual flexing and bending. Normally such exercises will relax my horse and bring him right back to me. On this occasion his fear was just too entrenched for this ritual to have much effect.......other than limbering up my horse a bit.

Still I asked him to work just like he was my "normal" horse. I hoped the routine would bring him back to me over time.........even if it couldn't do it in the short term. We worked the walk, jog and lope both directions of the ring for about the amount of time a "normal" ride would have been. I just focused on building a premise of "normal" even if things weren't.

There was a little twitching here and there and the horse jumped out of the bridle a couple of times. The aperture caught him quickly and the horse promptly resumed the correct pace even though his eyes were bugging out of his head. I made sure to give him plenty of reassuring pats and I talked to him a lot.

All things considered it wasn't a bad ride. When we made that last pass and exited the arena I was grateful we'd completed this session without anything major happening. I quickly dismounted hoping to "end" my time in the saddle before anything might flare up. I unbridled my horse and threw a cooler on him. Then we headed back towards the stalls.

The minute we stepped into that aisleway the horse came unglued. I heard the sound he reacted was no big thing..........but that didn't matter to Legs. He was convinced that the mother of all trolls was hiding in this passage way and looking just for him.

The horse went flying by me totally forgetting I had a hold of him. My grasp of him caused him to flip around and face me at a full gallop. Luckily the horse really is trained and knows his limits because he was coming straight at me when he caught himself. The look on his face clearly screamed for me to save him. The horse wanted out of there.............and he wanted out of there NOW!

All the way down that aisleway, this scenario repeated itself. The usual background noise was sending my horse climbing up the walls. People were keeping a safe horse was the nut case of the horse show. We'd definitely be back schooling at the next break.

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

Those Two Other Horses

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1 comment:

  1. Onwards and upwards my friend, I am hoping to hear more positive things in future posts.