As I continued on in my struggles with Storm and the canter I still continued with a session on the trails after our ride. Mostly that was to continue building on that foundation of correct movement that hill work pretty much guaranteed but I also wanted to get the Arabian horse really comfortable on the trails.
It was on one of those rides that Storm manifested more bad behavior. While we were not cantering, much of his behavior very much mirrored what I was dealing with during canter work. Having this outburst for a frame of reference really made it look like Storm's behavior really was about not getting his way.
We were out on the trail at the north side of the park where the little farm is that has horses. The barn sits back a ways from the fence and there are paddocks coming off of each horse's stall so most of the time we see the three horses each in its own paddock up near the barn. The paddock closest to the park is the biggest and actually comes up close to the fence line but I rarely see a horse there.
Most every time we've gone on that trail, which would usually be each ride, Storm has seen those horses from a distance. The very first time the horse actually got himself into a little bit of trouble talking to them but I don't consider that to be anything unusual. Other than that, I had had no further issues that would indicate that Storm would be naughty because of the presence of those horses.
It's not like Storm has never been anywhere where he might encounter strange horses. I showed him in halter once at the fairgrounds in Puyallup and they took him to a horse show in Oregon for schooling that first year. Neither time did Storm exhibit any inappropriate behavior around strange horses. There was nothing to tell me Storm might pull some unusual stunt in the proximity of unknown horses but that's exactly what he did.
We came up a small rise right into the fence line of that farm and one of those horses was standing right next to the fence. The minute Storm saw the other horse, he squealed a huge stallion hello and actually struck at the ground as he tried to dive towards the fence. I pulled him around and spanked him. That's when the horse went into a full blown fit shaking his head at me, squealing and trying to dump me.
I've been dumped by horses a number of times but only once have I felt like the horse was really trying to dump me. That was back when I first started Dandy under saddle and I pushed the horse too far. I knew if that horse ever decided to dump me I was toast and I also knew the day I did it, I had crossed that line. Just as there was no doubt that day that Dandy had had enough of me, there was no doubt in my mind on this day that Storm was just as determined as Dandy had been to rid himself of me.
Luckily for me Storm is not as athletic or talented as Dandy was as a youngster. As much as Storm wanted to be rid of me he was not capable of bucking to the heavens with his head on my knee. While the horse did manage to get me off balance he was not able to sustain the kind of assault to get me on the ground. Instead I managed to change up the direction I was pulling him rapidly back and forth getting him off balance enough that I could get the opportunity to fix my position in the saddle.
Once I was again balanced myself I was able to get Storm turned with his back to the horse at the fence and then really spank Storm in a manner appropriate for the offense he levied on me. To be honest even though I think I was pretty tough on Storm, I don't think he was the least bit intimidated by my corrections. I'm pretty sure all he could think of was that loose horse on the other side of the fence and he had some claim to make.
It was pretty clear to me that I was still sitting on a firecracker capable of exploding again. There really wasn't much room with all the underbrush around to be having this kind of battle with a horse. About the only thing I really could do was keep Storm turned away from the horse but I sure didn't have the room to safely prove to him that I could make him work in the presence of that horse.
I must admit this is the most intimidating situation I have encountered on a horse in my life. I've had plenty of times the adrenaline pumped while I reacted and the fear really settled in afterwards and I've even been seriously hurt a couple of times but nothing felt quite like this. Being on a stallion that has the breeding instinct on it's mind and no belief he should listen is probably the most dangerous situation I can think of and that's certainly what I felt like with Storm.
I have ridden Legs when he's thinking things he shouldn't but I always know he is listening to me. Storm's thoughts at seeing that horse were probably no different than Legs' under the same circumstances but Storm was NOT listening to me and didn't think he had to. That's not a feeling I'm going to forget anytime soon.
All of these things flashed through my mind as I tried to figure out the best course of action. I knew this situation really needed to be addressed but safety really was my first concern. Knowing there was nothing safe about this situation for either one of us, I headed Storm back down the trail we had just arrived on knowing that I could count on him to leave because I'd asked.
That is one of those things about Storm that makes this whole journey worth it to me. He may have some things mixed up in his head right now about who is in charge when and how BUT when all is said in done he IS really trying to do the right thing. Being in that situation he may have believed he knew what was right, but I knew I could tell him it was time to leave and he would believe me and go just as I asked.
AND that's exactly what Storm did. I knew he didn't want to leave. I could feel it in his entire body but he left because I asked him to and I didn't have another problem with him on the trail that day.
I have taken the horse back on the trails since then but I have been very careful about getting anywhere near that farm. Until I know I have this thing worked out in Storm's head, I'm not going to put either of us in that situation again.
To be continued.......................
This is Faye with her filly, Echo at her side. This was the year the twins were born and Echo, along with the other Legs' babies, kind of got lost in the shuffle. There are not too many baby pics from that year except for those of the twins.
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