Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Adventure Continues.........Schooling My Terrorized Horse

The Adventure Begins

Normally Legs is a brave horse. Even with the spooking incidents that have happened over the course of the last two show seasons, the horse has always managed to confront his fear and get through it pretty easily. Now in Tulsa that was just not the case. I had a wild eyed animal I'd never seen before. I felt sorry for him. His fear was genuine but the facts still were if I didn't get the horse through this fear I could kiss my dream goodbye. There was no way we could be successful without getting this fear conquered once and for all.

With my horse going sideways down the rail and totally ignoring my legs, we were now dangerous to others. Some of those horses were out there trying to get warmed up for their classes and even those out there schooling like me sure didn't need this kind of distraction. I decided in all fairness to get my horse out of there BUT I didn't let him off the hook. Legs needed to deal with this way or another.

I figured out how to get to those things scaring my horse. I wanted to give him the opportunity to get a good look at them. I figured once the horse could see there really was nothing to fear, he'd relax and we could get on with it.

I decided to walk Legs down a small aisle way that was formed by the decorated ends of two barns on one side and the warm-up arena rail on the other. Part way down this aisle there was a large utility cart off to one side. I didn't even give this cart a second thought. Legs has gone by things like these so many times before.....but then the horse wasn't crazed those other times.

The problem with my strategy began right at the start. The horse was ok exiting the arena but when I asked him to round the corner into that aisle way he refused to go. He was standing there snorting at the grasses in the barn display as they waved in the wind. I couldn't believe me eyes, my horse was snorting at grass.

Obviously if the horse couldn't handle grass blowing in the wind, he didn't do much better with the utility cart. We got within ten feet of the thing and the stallion's eyes bulged from his head and he put on the brakes refusing to move. I had to pull the horse sideways to get him off balance to even move a foot. I'll bet I spent twenty minutes teaching Legs to go past that cart. Ordinarily I would have expected to complete this task in a relaxed manner but it was pretty clear that asking for "relaxed" was like asking for the moon. Getting the horse by a feared obstacle without trampling on Mom was going to have to be good enough for now.

From there we went on the the trash can that had been growing that great ghost up out of its depths earlier. By this time someone had seen the problem and removed that bag. Legs, however, knew it must still be lurking beneath the depths somewhere. He was even more resistant to going near this big yellow horse eating trash can than he had been that utility cart.

Once I could walk the horse back and forth by the yellow can, I moved on over to the rippling puddle of water. It was probably fifteen feet off the rail of the warm-up but that wasn't far enough for Legs. He didn't want to go anywhere near that darn treacherous water. Again I had to pull the horse off balance to even get his feet to move. Eventually I got him walking next to the rail but there was no relaxation about it. The horse was clearly terrified.

I thought if I could just get him to smell that water he'd figure out he was being foolish. I tried to get him up close and personal with this over sized puddle that really did look more like a little creek than a puddle. Legs did everything he could to resist but eventually I was successful.

All in all I probably spent an hour and a half just getting him to look at these things. I never did, however, get a relaxed horse. He went because I told him he had too. He was still convinced there were trolls lurking everywhere.

At least the horse was now listening to me so I took him back into the warm-up and climbed back on. He was better........and that's about all I can say. There was no more sideways movement trying to escape being on the rail but the horse was clearly not comfortable. I decided that trying was good enough. Once I got him to walk, jog and lope both directions in a reasonable manner. I called it good. This wasn't going to be an issue that resolved itself in one ride. I definitely had my work cut out for me.

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

Schooling the Lunch Break

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  1. It's a good thing you had some time to school before his class. Hope he worked it out. Gosh, this is suspenseful!!!

  2. Ah, but I bet he looked beautiful, prancing and dancing about.

  3. Gosh Mikael I am hoping for a good outcome to this, but from past experiences that you have had I am getting a bit stressed about how your rides went.

  4. yup my gazi's a "brave spooker " as well..when he gets to see it... confront it... tis better. fear can be insidious. thanx for all your tips