A horse’s trust in your leadership is different, more extensive, than just simple trust in you. A horse can trust that you will not hurt them, trust that you’re their friend, but to trust that you know what you’re doing, that you can keep them safe down whatever path you choose for them – that is different. More later.
Thought it was going to rain today, what with all the cloudy periods, but it actually turned out to be a nice day! Cool, but with sparkly sunny moments ;)
Cody was fairly easy to catch today out in the pasture – he gave me a bit of a run-around but let me walk up and pet his rump a lot. I eventually used that to encourage him to keep his hind leg still by just touching the inside of his hind, then moved up to his front leg. It sounds so silly, but it worked! He let me work my way up to his head, standing stock still, and resigned himself to being caught. I spent several minutes though on his sweet spot to thank him for standing still – he absolutely loves having his cheek rubbed! After a good hour spent on the ground (including trailer loading) – at which Cody did fantastic (throughout), we saddled up and headed out. It was a bit of a crisp day, but the sun was out (in between cloudy periods), so I wanted to catch my last chance to photograph the creek. I missed the time to do it when the days were nice and the grass was long and green thanks to the lost camera, but oh well. Cody was such a great sport, going through deep, sucking mud (at one point, he plunged in up to his knees and hocks), up and down steep trails (sitting nicely on his hind), and even walking on cliff-sides and horizontally along steep slopes. Oh, and stopping every couple feet!! After awhile he did get a little fed up with all the stopping, but I can’t blame him – he held out for a long time, a good ¾ of the ride, without complaint. Despite it all though he was very light, very responsive (except near the end, where he started ignoring some of what I said a little), and just a great ride!
I took the chance while I still had Cody in-hand to load all three horses into the trailer – Cody, Link, then Silver all stepped up without hesitation and with ease, standing still and relaxed while I even snapped photos! Hehe.
I spent maybe 15 minutes playing with Link afterwards (on the 12’), getting him prepped to ride. He was very focused, relaxed, and just great to work with! One of the biggest things I learned in the liberty DVD that was applicable to Link at this time, was to target his “bubble” rather than him himself (actually, this applies to Silver at this time too – as well as to some of the horses not here), and to target his “zones” specifically. For example, I find it hard to “win” the driving game when driving his fore around, because Link gets RB a bit and just spins faster than I can drive. He keeps his nose far off, but his shoulder is left behind, keeping me in the wrong spot. Then he just runs forward, out of my reach! So the last couple of times I have been targeting zone 3 (his shoulder) as well as zone 1 (nose)…making a point to target zone 3 specifically really helps and is cleaning up our driving game very nicely!!! It just makes such a huge difference – it was all an error in my communication; I clean my communication up = Link clears up his response. Back to the topic ;) Link actually stood still to be groomed and saddled afterwards as well, which was a plus. Heading out (western, rope hackamore), Link was the most relaxed he has ever been – his walk was long and loose. However his focus was ev-er-y-where but on me as the ride progressed. Of course, everywhere that his nose went to look, the body followed. Had there been snow on the ground, our path would have zigzagged the entire way to the creek. Finally, I let him out some for a bit of a gallop, but slowed him after a bit. It is hard to trust Link considering all we've been through (ie, how reactive he can be) and when he does not yet trust my leadership! He crossed the creek nicely, but scrambled up the opposite bank without heeding my advice of where to go up the bank. Yesterday, he wouldn’t walk where I wanted him to because he couldn’t see a path – I just wanted him to trust my leadership and walk there anyways!! He is very reluctant to follow my leadership and just wants to do things his way – super independent! *sigh* Makes things challenging, but once we get over this obstacle (which will likely take a long time, months to years of working on our partnership – he is only 5 though so no worries…and what can you expect really, particularly from an OTTB with a lot of “baggage”) we’ll be a great team. It is frustrating though! It is slow work plugging away, but it will be rewarding. Luckily our boarding facility though has a round pen now, so I am excited to do some liberty work with Link – both on the ground and under-saddle, which should help! Anyway, back to the story – the rest of our ride was pretty uneventful. We walked back (I had to continuously remind him to walk) and even counted cattle (2 bulls counted, 21 cows, and 14 calves, in two different herds). I was still contemplating on taking Link to the mountains (YaHa Tinda area) this weekend but after our ride today – although it went well overall – I changed my mind. I've decided on Cody for sure, and either Silver or Koolaid. Decisions decisions!
End of the day, I turned the three boys out on the full two quarter sections. They only made use of the pasture by the house here, but both Link and Silver tore around like mad, kicking up their heels and having a blast! I was glad to be able to provide them some fun and look forward to letting them roam a little more tomorrow before we leave ;)