One of the points that the horse shopper brought up with me was that my horses don't neck rein. I remember teaching them to neck rein off and on throughout the years, but I have a hard time staying focused, so I kept going back to direct reining out of habit, and the horses forgot what I taught them. So, I asked my horse trainer to teach them.
His technique is to lay the outside rein on the neck, then put pressure on the outside shoulder with the outside leg, and then do the inside direct rein. Then remove the cues in the opposite order until all the horse needs is to feel the outside rein on his neck.
He rode Bombay out into the desert and neck reined him around bushes. I went looking for them with my hiking stick. When I finally spotted them, they were too far ahead for me to catch up, so I just golfed cholla balls off the trail until he rode out on Gabbrielle. I followed them for a little bit, but Gabbrielle was moving too fast, and neither horse nor rider saw me behind them, so I just went my own way and took a hike. I ran into a coyote who was stalking me, so I turned the tables and stalked it for a bit.
I just didn't want to run into those javelina, because my horse trainer told me that since their eyesight isn't very good, it's easy to sneak up on them, but if you take them by surprise, they might charge and bite your leg. They also have tusks that can gore you. I'm glad I had a telephoto lens this morning and didn't try to get too close.
When he returned with Gabbrielle, she was spooking all the way down the driveway. I saw her spook at a rabbit and spook at the hose that has been in the same spot coiled on the ground for years. Then she spooked at the wooden pallets. It was ridiculous. The trainer opened the gate to the round pen from horseback and worked on neck reining her in there.
He said that she was doing really well on the trails until he rode too close to a thoroughbred horse farm, and those horses got all riled up seeing her. They ran around with their tails in the air and snorting, which caused Gabbrielle to flip out, and she just couldn't focus anymore. So, he brought her home to finish her lesson.
He said that he did run into another horseback rider on Bombay, and Bombay popped his head up into the air, but didn't get silly. He said that the other horseback rider's horse was more agitated than Bombay. He thinks Bombay will only need one more lesson before he fully understands this whole neck reining concept. Gabbrielle might only need one more lesson, but she has to be in a controlled environment where she can focus and listen. Trying to de-spook her has been an ongoing chore, and if my horse trainer's confidence can't rub off on her, then I feel like there's not much hope for her. He said that an Arabian horse trainer he knows says that Arabs tend to settle down around the age of 13 or 14. Gabbrielle is 10. At my age, I'm not willing to wait that long.
However, I can see that she is gaining confidence from these lessons. She actually walked right up to me and sniffed a plastic bag that I was carrying in my hand. Just a few days ago she was running from plastic bags. I do feel like her progress is a little too little, a little too late, though. It depresses me that she regressed so far in her training after not being ridden all summer. I'm tired of having to go back to square one after some time off. I want these horses to be like Rock, and just pick up where we left off. Back sliding is exhausting. If the horse trainer keeps having positive reports on Bombay's progress, I may just take him off the market and keep him.