Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Night at the Fairgrounds

The smoke from the Yosemite area fire blew in another direction today. I am so sorry for those folks who lost their homes. I'd have a few choice words for the guy who started the fire by doing target practice with his gun around dry brush, but I guess we all can't be born with common sense.

K met me at the Fairgrounds and on this night there was no barrel racing event, but there were some ATVs. I had to spend the majority of time lunging Bombay to get his nerves unravelled. K kept telling me to get on him, but he was snorting and hyper. If I couldn't get him to halt on the long line, I doubted I could get him to halt from the saddle.

K got tired of waiting for me to mount, so she took her four dogs for a trail ride around the area while I continued lunging. Unfortunately, Bombay just got himself worked up into a more nervous state when she left. He likes her horse. I finally got the nerve up to mount him when she returned, and right when I got my foot in the stirrup, some ATV riders went racing past. Bombay grew another 10-feet (not really) and started dancing around.

He finally held still enough for me to mount after I cranked the inside rein way toward me and said, "Ho!" repeatedly in a firm tone. As I was swinging my leg over, he took off at a fast trot. I was trying to get my other foot in the stirrup and K was laughing at me. She then started yelling, "Pull back hard! Don't let him get away with that! Pull back and say NO!"

I pulled back and he eventually stopped. We walked and jogged together with her four dogs weaving in and out of the hoof traffic. It was nice having someone to talk to so that I could take my mind off the ticking time bomb between my knees. I felt that as long as we were talking calmly and casually, Bombay felt secure.

At one point he started backing up and I realized that one of the dogs was bothering him behind his hind legs. I was worried he was going to kick the dog, so I urged him forward. The next time we stopped, he did something weird with his body and I asked K what he was doing. I thought he was trying to pee or poo, but she said he was looking like he was going to sit straight back down onto the ground with his rear end. That scared me, so I definitely kept him moving after that.

His big progress was that he was afraid of the barrels the other night, especially when the girls rolled them along the ground to reposition them, but on this night I was able to do figure 8's with him around the barrels at a jog. He was doing so well that I tried to move him up to a fast trot, but he launched into a little bucking fit so I had to bring it back down.

The other big progress was that I used K's technique of loading him into the trailer by standing behind the center divider and then closing it before he can turn around, and it worked like a charm. Getting him out at the Fairgrounds was scary because as soon as I opened the divider, he turned and slammed the divider into me, so that I was squashed between the wall of the trailer and the divider. Thank God that divider was padded, as well as my tummy!

So, coming home I tried a different technique of attaching his lead rope and threading it out his window and into the window of the other stall where I was standing. That way I could open the partition and keep his head forward. I then walked between the partition and his body to get the lead rope out from the windows and back him out. That worked well. Now I can officially trailer my horse all by myself. I don't have to rely on anyone else to be available to hold his head for me. One week ago I would have never dreamed either of us would come this far.


Callie said...

Great progress! Keep up the good work! He'll get there!

Katee said...

It's so nice to be able to do stuff on your own isn't it? You're making me very nervous for you when I'm reading these posts, but I'm glad that so far things seem to be going well.

Is there a way in which you could change up your lunging that would help Bombay focus on you instead of the Big Bad World? When I'm lunging my horse and he isn't paying attention to me, we start lunging in smaller circles with lots of gait changes. Basically I try to be as big and demanding as possible so that he HAS to pay attention to me. Even when the world is scary for him, you are still his leader and you want him looking to you for leadership.

OnTheBit said...

That is so awesome!!!!!!!! It is so great that you got on even though you were nervous! You have made so much progress in such a short amount of time! Keep up the good work. I know it is scary to go different places and ride. I am so impressed that you are able to self load Bombay and go and do new things! I want to be like you some day and just go wherever to ride a few days a week.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Callie - Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Katee - I'll give your suggestion a try. He does do every gait change I request except stopping and standing still. However, the majority of time his head is up and he's looking at something other than me. I guess if I can be more demanding, tall and strong, I can make myself into a bigger concern for him than his surroundings. Thanks.

onthebit - I never thought I'd have the stamina to trailer and ride several times a week. I never know if trailering is going to be hours of fussing or a cinch.

Lulu said...

You are making some awesome progress....stick with it and he will calm down.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

YAY!! I am so happy to hear that you have a riding buddy. Especially one who sounds like she is experienced and not afraid to push you.

I know it is hard to get out there but what I have found to work really well on young horses who can't focus is to long trot them until they get their sanity back. I know-you will work your way there, but get ole' Bombay's feet moving and keep him long trotting in that arena until he relaxes and a little tired. If he insists on spooking along the rail-do a lot of big circles, serpentine's and figure 8's in the middle. As soon as he looses his air alittle-he will calm down for you. You go girl-you will be trail riding before you know it!!

PS-Don't worry too much about that equitation stuff until Bombay settles down. It is impossible to keep correct equitation ALL of the time especially when your horse is looking for a reason to booger.

AnnL said...

Good for you!! The more you do this, the easier it will get for both you and Bombay. I'm looking forward to hearing about your first ride out onto the trails! :-)


Shirley said...

Great advice from BEC!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

lulu, Ann, and Shirley - Thanks for the encouragement.

BEC - Hopefully, next time he'll let me move him up to the trot without bucking. That's been my biggest problem. He never bucks at home, only when I move him up to the trot in a strange place.

Twinville said...

Gosh, NM! I am so in awe of you. Even though you have all these concerns and worries about riding and handling Bombay out of the round go and do it anyway. That is a huge accomplishment in of itself. YOu should be proud of yourself, girlfriend!

I don't know if I'd be that brave, especially with all the things that Bombay is testing you with.

It's really great that you have such an encouraging, strong-willed kind friend to help through the rough spots and to keep you focused on keeping Bombay focused, too.

The lunging is probably helpful, but like my neighbor, Val, who also has Arabians says, "You can tire out and Arabian, the more you work them the more spirit they get"

Sounds like the best technique would be to just keep him focused on you at all times.

And keep on working with him. :)

Twinville said...

Whoops! What a mess. I meant to say" You cannot tire out an Arabian"