There has been quite a lot going on in life, and there haven’t been any big excursions with the horse–but I AM still riding and working with him. In fact, we’re working on canter, and we appear to have gotten over another behavioral hurdle.
It’s unclear how much of the problem was him, and how much was me, but regardless, we conquered it.
There was an occasion, several years ago now, on which he bolted while I was riding bareback in the big field. Without stirrups, I was afraid to do a one rein stop, and I wasn’t 100% sure I could sit out his abrupt stop at the gate. So I decided to jump off.
After that, Midas decided he was terrified of one of the solar generators and water troughs on the way out to that field, and we had several big fights about passing it. Big fights that ended with us standing its general proximity without bolting, typically. I decided to leave it alone for a while. He walked past it freely when turned out in the big field, or the very pasture the trough watered. Obviously, the trough wasn’t the issue, and we might as well sort out our issues in a setting that involved less spinning.
Also, fighting about it wasn’t getting me anywhere.
So, we worked on other stuff.
Midas is a pretty fantastic ride in the ring, and we’re working cantering in the ring vs cantering in the wild. His bad behavior is location based, so it is now definitely time to start after locations.
Finally, I had an idea. We started with halt in the ring. We would start with halt in the field, too.
So I walked him into the field, and halted him before he could do anything. Head high, he shifted around. Waited. Tried to leave. Waited. Tried to leave. Then caught on. It took MUCH less time than the first time, all those years ago.
I let him eat grass, then asked him to walk forward again. He was immediately wound up. We halted before he could go far, and he couldn’t eat until he was standing quietly. We repeated this until we were well past the trouble spot. He was so distracted by his desire to eat grass, that he didn’t fuss at the trouble spot. In fact, he wasn’t at all interested in walking back to the barn, he wanted to keep doing the exercise so he could eat more grass.
A few weeks later, alternating bareback with saddle work, I tried the field again. This time, we just walked out.
No fight. Not even a hint.
We walked out, did a big circle around the middle of the field, stopped for grass, walked back.
We’ve been out a few times now, I usually take him there to cool out after ring work. And I’m so excited that I can take him into our old trouble field to cool out after ring work. He walks relaxed, happy, alert.
I’ve done a good job not getting spooked that he’s alert and we’re out and about. I think, maybe, we’re building another layer of trust between us.
I feel like we could actually leave and go on a trail ride without having a melt down. Of course, we’d both want to get a good run in.
This picture is from last week, it was a cool morning, I didn’t have time to ride but I was stopping by to pat noses. And the noses energetically brought themselves to me. I used to have to do a poor man’s join up every single time in the fall. What a change.