I was lucky enough Friday to meet Astrid at the barn (she was just doing some chores) because if she hadn’t been there, I would prob not have done any work with Chief. It was an extremely trying week, and my head was in a fog. I really could NOT concentrate what so ever. But I brought Chief out to the oval ring and worked him in circles with the flag. He was being good, I was just uncoordinated an on another planet.
Fortunately Astrid was riding her horse outside the ring, and was giving me instruction to put me on the right path. It was what I needed and helped me end on a good note. Circles ended cleanly. He started this habit of running when he was moving toward the barn, so it was a lot of head snatching and starting over.
Approx 45 minutes
Saturday 9/13/14 This was a stormy Saturday. I worked Chief in the early afternoon before the storms came, but it was windy and a hot mess of a sky! Gates were banging and clanging and the wind kicked up a lot. I worked Chief without a saddle initially, and then under saddle groundwork only. He was restless from the get go, and kept getting distracted. But we ended up doing some decent work without a saddle on. I am trying to teach him to respect my space, which has always been one of my larger problems with him. Aside from the whole bucking horse thing…
Speaking of… I saddled him and he was nervous. Pretty stiff in the neck and legs. Nonetheless he stood for me nicely and let me saddle him and cinch him up. No true issues there. But something I have never had an issue with prior to this, he blew up as soon as we began to walk off. I was able to get his head in a good position and stop him, calm him and walk off calmly, but he was still a mess. He wanted to run into circles because he knew that is what I would normally ask him to do. So I made him stand a lot, completely still. No more bucking fits that day, but it was still trying for him. He shit four times, and but the fourth time it was basically very runny. All nerves. I let him quit on a good note. Prob worked for a solid 1 hour 20 mins.
Sunday Funday!!!! Worked Chief round pen style for the first ten minutes… he galloped around like a crazy maniac. I was able to get him to change directions but bc the space is larger than a normal round pen and he would speed up if he saw me attempting to cut him off. I have to say, this was not really that productive, other than proving my thought that my horse is in great shape, and can pull of a really strong sideways buck barely stopping from a gallop. So I slowed him down and put his rope halter on. (Astrid has since told me to never free lunge this horse!! I kind of realized that after the fact.) I was thinking he would be a little tired, a little energy drained, but I was not that lucky. He worked OK without a saddle on, he was trying to pay attention to the mare that was working around our arena and trail riding, but i was able to get his attention back. We worked on circles, direction changes and rolling the hind. He is getting much better at directional changes. Also he is improving his trot circles on the long lead vastly. He used to buck if I asked him to continue trotting if he slowed down. Now he is responding nicely.
Saddled. Stood nice for saddle and walked off without panicking, but was raring to go on a circle. I asked him to stand but he just kept attempting to pace on the end of the lead line. So once I got a few seconds of standing and relaxing I asked him to walk off on a circle. We had issues in the beginning with him running into a trot on the circle and I kept stopping him, backing him up and starting again. At one point I tried to stop him and accidentally shook my flag in his direction while i was pulling on the lead line to get his head. He blew up. Bucked and pulled the rope right out of my hand (which has never happened) and had a bucking fit down the side of the arena. I waited for him to stop and began again with our walk circles. It is like the longer I work on ground work, the more bad habits come out. We worked for another hour (which I was disappointed about bc I really wanted to ride my friend’s horse Note who was all saddled up and waiting for me) and did good work mostly. He attempted a buck again, but I got his attention and got him to calm quickly. The hard work with the walk circles was paying off because I actually saw him almost speed up, stop himself and slow back into a more relaxed walk both directions without my correction. We ended on that note. I was pleased.
Approximately 1hr 45 mins to 2 hours
It is so hard not to get discouraged. Especially when I discuss my situation with others. They feel bad for me or remind me there are good horses out there. But in my heart I know Chief is a good horse. And I do not want to give up on him. I wish I was wealthier and could afford to keep him and ride other really good horses, but right now I am dedicated to him. And I have to keep telling myself and reminding myself of all his really great improvements. He is a beautiful mover, really smart, great on the ground, kind and submissive to other horses. We just have to slowly desensitize him and try to get him to a point that is safe for us to ride together. Hopefully that happens eventually. Because something happened to him to make him like this…aside from my own errors. And I will not give up this easily. Buck B always says that sometimes you will only see the smallest improvements. That is what I am looking for right now.