Monday, February 24, 2014

Busy Day

The day began with waking up at 5:00 AM to get the puppy to the clinic for another booster shot.  I think I have 2 or 3 more trips like this.  The clinic checks everyone in between 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM, and then they do surgeries the rest of the day, and patients can only be picked up between 4:00 and 6:00 PM.  The clinic really isn't that close to my house, so whether I brave rush hour traffic on the freeway or take the back roads, the round trip takes up over an hour of my day.  The distance isn't that far, but with winter traffic and road construction, I can easily find myself at a standstill.  The wait once you get there is usually a minimum of an hour.  It's a tough errand for me to run, because I have so much I normally do at home between 6:30 and 8:30 AM, but I have to shift everything around when it's time for another booster shot.  Oh well, even though the time and distance aren't convenient, at least I'm saving money and nobody pressures me into healthcare procedures my pets don't necessarily need.

I had several more errands to run in town once I got Stewie back home, but when I saw P.S. down at the barn, I threw all that out the window to go for a trail ride.  With her work schedule, our trail rides have been few and far between, so I have to take advantage of her company when she's here.  The horses always do much better for us when we take them out in pairs.

I've always been afraid of my horse spooking on asphalt while crossing the street, and today it finally happened.  My neighbor's drip system turned on and made a sudden hissing noise, and Bombay jumped sideways and skidded on the asphalt.  We survived, but I was shaking my head over my lousy luck.  The street is only about 20-feet wide and it only takes a few steps for a horse to cross it, so what are the chances of something spooking him right then during that 5-second period that we are crossing the street?

After our ride, it was time for me to meet Rock's new trainer.  Though the bridle problem with the buckle poking him in the eye was solved, he's still unpredictable and jumpy.  I wanted a person who kind of specializes in equine psychology to meet with Rock and give me some suggestions on how to head his sudden freak outs off at the pass.  Just because I didn't get hurt the last time I flew out of the saddle in one of his violent spins does not mean I won't get hurt next time.  And it's looking like my husband did some serious damage to his back in his fall, because every time he thinks it is healed, his back goes out on him again and he can't move without excruciating pain.

I explained Rock's two spin, dump and run incidents, that I switched bridles because I think the buckle poking him in the eye may have been the trigger, and that I'm trying to keep him bitless because of the damage to his tongue.  The trainer said he'd have to ride him in the bitless bridle and see how it goes, because we may have to use a snaffle or mechanical hackamore, but with light hands.  In the end he decided the bitless bridle that Christine gave me should work out fine.  Yay!

He put his own saddle on Rock and rode him in the round pen, then out on the trails while I walked along.  He performed a variety of maneuvers, and Rock was really good for him, which I expected he would be.  I picked his brain to get a feel for his philosophy and approach to horse training.  He does a lot of things similar and some things different from my last trainer, and I'm particularly interested in learning new-to-me approaches to the types of problems I have with my horses.

We talked a lot about spooking.  While last year's trainer forced the horse to circle, approach and look at the scary object, he prefers to circle it closer and closer, but he never looks at the object and never asks the horse to look at it.  He just makes several passes by it, and then as soon as the horse relaxes or loses interest in the object, he moves on.  He thinks it is possible that so many horses get bit by rattlesnakes because they were trained to touch scary things with their noses.  That makes sense.

I was telling him that one of my goals is to ride all the horses across busy roads, so that I can expand my horizons.  He said he can help me with that.  While we were approaching the gate, a car pulled a U-turn right in front of Rock, and he only raised his head up a bit.  The trainer stopped him in the middle of the street and made him stand there in part because Rock was eager to get back to the barn, and I suspect in part to show me that there is nothing to fear about sitting on a horse's back while on asphalt.  Rock threw his head around a bit, but otherwise didn't do anything that would have caused his rider to fall off.

The trainer was teaching me while standing in the street, and a nosy neighbor came out to investigate.  He came walking right up towards us with a big walking stick.  The trainer didn't see him, but Rock did, and Rock didn't overreact the way Bombay probably would have.  Then a car was coming, so I let the trainer know, but he wasn't going to budge until Rock stopped throwing his head around.  He was so focused on training my horse that he didn't care if the driver had to stop and wait.

Anyway, even though he's all booked up with clients and other activities, he's willing to come back and work with Rock.  He said next time he'll take him out on the trails and try to trigger the spin, dump, and run reflex.  Fortunately, he's got some experience as a bareback bronc rider and has no fear, so he's probably the perfect man for the job.


Cindy D. said...

Sounds like he has a pretty good approach. Very cool that you found someone that might be able to help you get out and about more with confidence!

lytha said...

riding on pavement - i hate it so! i tell germans that in my former life we only rode *across* a road from time to time, we never had to ride paved trails, and they cannot fathom it. i tell myself the horses here are adjusted to it because the stalls they sleep in are concrete, and their paddocks are often paved as well, but a spook is a spook. the only thing worse than riding on pavement is riding a horse with shoes on pavement.

yesterday my horse was bat-sh** crazy and afraid of everything - i didn't even have a chance to use the tricks my trainer gave me - the horse was dangerous. as i was ground driving her on the trails, a bird flew up and she leapt to the side so fast, i realized i wouldn't be able to ride that. then we came to this half-wall in the woods and she just couldn't handle it - she whirled around and for the first time i thought i'd lose her. i unhooked the driving line and took the long NH lead and started making her circle me and with every circle, i took a step closer to that wall, until finally, eventually, she realized it's just a wall, and calmed down. (i think this is parelli's squeeze game.) then i sat next to the wall and let her stand there looking at it. she reached out and touched it and i like to think she felt pretty dumb, but her behavior continued like that the rest of the day.

i so need someone to ride with, that is the obvious, simple answer to her overreactions out there. there are horses all around me but no one to help.

appydoesdressage said...

Sounds like you may have a good trainer to work with Rock's issues, maybe he can try and work with Bombay's spookiness too? Good luck!

Sam said...

Oh woo! I was wondering when you would have him out and if you would like him. I'm glad he seems to be working out! I'll keep fingers crossed that he gets to the bottom of Rock's issues.

Cheryl Ann said...

Wow! I need this guy for Scout! Too bad I'm so dang far away!
Cheryl Ann

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam/Christine - He told me the only reason he was able to fit me in was because I had good timing. He had just moved Baron's appointment and was able to give me your old time slot -- so, thank you! But if you need it back, let me know.