Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blossoms and Babies

January feels like spring for us in Arizona, because we start seeing some blossoms and babies.  The blossoms are beautiful, but often cause headaches and sinus drainage.  I'm on another NyQuil binge.  So, far I've seen child coyotes, child rabbits, baby ground squirrels, baby quail, and a new abundance of lizards.

For those of you in the colder states, this should give you hope that your spring is on the horizon.

Bombay has been bored, so I took him on a trail ride.

After all the unwanted excitement on horseback these past few weeks, I was ready for a nice, quiet uneventful ride.  I tried to set us up for success by waiting for all the trash trucks and delivery trucks to make their rounds, and waiting for it to warm up enough that most people would seek shelter indoors from the heat.  Though I didn't expect anything to disrupt our ride, Bombay was on full alert on the way out.  I had to keep reminding him that I was on his back, and asking him to put his head down and collect himself.

A desert hare busted out of the brush and ran across the trail just five-feet in front of him, but he didn't pay any attention to it.  I think he was looking for something specific.

There was a little jump when a fire truck pulled out of the fire station and turned on its siren and lights, but once he saw what it was, he trudged on.  I guess I can thank the fact that emergency vehicles were constantly racing past our pasture at the old house for that.  Being on a main route for the fire station and police was one of the many reasons why we were motivated to move.  As more and more people kept moving into our area, there were more and more emergencies.  We went from hearing sirens once every six months to once every six hours over a very short period of time.  When I saw that our new house was close to a fire station, I was worried, but ironically, despite living in a more populated area, we rarely hear sirens here.

Just as we were reaching the halfway point and he was now convinced that the boogeyman that scared Rock the other day would not jump out of bushes at him today, I turned him down a different trail without looking to see what was on it, and up popped his head while he slammed on the brakes.

It was another horseback rider.  At least this one wasn't trotting or running toward us like the last few we came across.  I bumped Bombay back to reality and got him moving again, but of course, now he was snorting and jigging.  He's like a horny teenage boy dancing around and saying, "Woo hoo!  I'm going to get laid!"  He doesn't seem to know that he is a gelding and he probably doesn't even know the gender of the other horse.  I'd love to know what really is going on in his head when he sees a new horse, because he just gets way too excited over such sightings.

He settled down soon enough and the rest of the ride was uneventful, so I partially got my wish.

I'm intentionally not publishing the comments for Need a Plan just yet, because I want to hear original input from each person, as opposed to, "I agree with so-and-so..."  I want people to brainstorm and not just vote for who's idea we agree with.  I've already got some great perspectives and ideas, and I hope to keep them coming.

I'm contemplating bringing up some of the points for discussion in future blog posts.  I don't want anyone to think that I am rejecting their ideas, but some ideas have led to more questions for me because they don't fit in with my own experience and how I have been trained.  So, I'm thinking that if I raise those questions, we can all get a bigger picture of the theory.

For those of you who voted on Taking Bets, regarding the missing flashlight, I think it's safe to say that those who thought it would never be returned have won.  Your prize is nothing, because I got nothing and now I have to go buy a new flashlight.


ellie k said...

Have you ever tried ponying Rock at a relaxed speed and see if he dozes off and then spooks when something happens? It is strange that he was a rock solid no spook horse and now so spooky.

Cheryl Ann said...

Well, I hope you have a great weekend! I'm worn out already...sigh...Can't wait to read all the comments, however!
~Cheryl Ann~

Sunny said...

First of all, Rock seems like an basically easy going horse -- or you wouldn't have gotten him. However, it doesn't seem like he has fully committed himself to the idea of being ridden/accepting humans as his tour manager so to speak. Also,I think you already have the keys to understand Rock's recent behavior -- because you have given yourself a huge advantage: your chronological posts about your horses. Speeding forward through your blogs about Rock, I've noticed a couple of things:
although he has integrated himself into your herd and your way of horsekeeping, he was not a quick and easy fit. All that biting means something. Also, he's easy going -- i.e. his way of resistance might be to slooow down. This form of "I don't wanna" is tricky because it can easily be mistaken by people as acceptance of what's going on. If it is true calm acceptance, he should easily let you set the pace, the direction, and for how long (that's John Lyon's). Rock doesn't -- and he also doesn't like the bit. That's a big warning sign in my book that he hasn't accepted your right to lead. You have been riding a long time, so I'm thinking you have light hands (and your other horses would have told you if you didn't). Warning sign #3: he has started moving when you go to mount. Again, this is a quiet, subtle way of saying "I don't wanna". Lastly, he has been snatching food as he is being ridden. If you don't want him to be doing this, and if he is focused on what YOU want, he shouldn't be attempting this. To me, all of these things add up to a horse who is still a basically great horse, but one who has decided that being ridden is a matter for him to make all of the decisions. I noticed when I watched that video of your fall that Rock looked away from the trail several times (at 19 seconds a sharp head and shoulder to the right; at 26 a head and neck to the left, and again head, neck an shoulder to the right very sharply at 46 seconds, followed by the spook.) You are used to trail riding, and your Arabs, so this might be typical on-the-trail behavior. I don't have trail experience, but what I see is a distracted horse, one who is uneasy and looking for something. That is compounded by, more importantly, his lack of purposeful forward movement. He is not 100% focused on moving forwards. A walk can be a forward march, with every element of his being focused on going forward down the trail, as if he is marching to a giant pile of luscious carrots.

This lack of focus (and acceptance that you determine the focus)could be why on other rides, he seemed more focused on biting Bombay and controlling him than what you wanted him to do.

He is giving you plenty of signals, and it seems like the pace is picking up prob. because your "demands" (let's go on a ride!) have picked up. He's giving you a different type of challenge/mind-set than you've had before, but you have the advantage: your experiences with your other three horses. I am sure you will find a process that makes you both successful. I only have two suggestions:
1) (a paraphrase from John Lyons) "Horse problems don't come in ones--it isn't just "he won't..." Each one shows up intertwined with other little ones, so if you work on one "little" part of the problem, the other parts improve too."
2) under saddle, the answer is always "forward, forward, forward"

I am looking forward to reading about the journey! --Sunny

fernvalley01 said...

I was wondering about the "need a plan post" good idea, I will be interested to see what the thoughts are

fernvalley01 said...

sounds like a pretty good ride too