Yesterday was so hot and humid I felt like my skin was going to melt off my body when I stood in that arena. It was the kind of humid heat where you almost cannot catch a breath.
Somehow though, I managed to avoid sunburn and almost did not notice the heat when I was working with Chief.
Because Chief had three days off, I knew that he may need to do some more work that normal on the basics. Aside from the insanely huge bombers that were bothering us the ENTIRE time, we had an alright work out.
My instructor always says to me… Figure out what your horse needs and give it to him. And this horse needed circles. So we worked on circles after circles after circles. He was acting a little frightened of the flag without a saddle. That is unlike him, but after some work he calmed and responded well to the flag. We did some leading… He bucked and tried to run one time, and I made him stop, got his attention and made him walk out into a circle again. It took until the end of my time with him that day for him to calm, but he was doing pretty good by the end of the hour.
I saddled him up (repeated saddling 3 times, and he calmly stood) and worked with him at circles with the lead line only. He bucked out on me once when I asked him to roll his hind, but I collected him and worked him until he responded nicely.
Every time he got too nervous and looked like he was going to freak, we did some calm work and I reassured him physically before I asked him to move out again. For example I would have him lower his head repeatedly and reward him. I would have him bend his head toward me without rolling his hind and reward him. He is very good at this and seems to enjoy the exercise. I was trying to be aware of my pressure and my release based on his responses.
Something I did not love yesterday was that he started crowding me again. We need to do more leading, but he was responsive when I asked him to move his shoulder out and move away from me. It just goes to show how quickly he chooses not to respect my space if we do not do continuous daily work. I corrected him each time, but he needs work on that tonight.
I gave him a good hose down which he loved. Then toweled and curried him. I learned that you always have to dry or scrape your horse even in hot weather. If not, the excess water acts almost like a shield or a blanket keeping the heat within their bodies. I should have hosed myself down too while I was at it!
My current worry. That we will never be able to create an even balance of power between the two of us. I feel like in the past Cheif’s “good behavior” was either starvation based or fear based… (Prior to me having him). I want to be able to reach a point where he trusts me, does not take advantage (he does that) and is not fearful that he is going to get hurt. He sways between trust and quickly moves to unease.
But contrary to that Chief has come a long way with other things. So I have to keep my eyes on the prize and remember that we have come a long way in a short time.
And I have to learn to sit through a buck. Hopefully the western saddle will help with the slick shoulder drop Chief is really good at!