I could not be happier this week. I am on such a high from riding chief and working him yesterday that not much can wipe the smile off my face. Don’t get me wrong, we did not do much, but I felt really comfortable on him. I felt like he was really calm and he worked really hard to do what I asked him too. Plus we are working on his more recent girthy behavior trying to figure it out.
10/9 – 1 hour
I went to the barn on Friday not feeling too hot. Luckily Astrid was there bc she makes me feel some accountability and motivation to work Chief. So we did work with and without the saddle, and he was really good. He was a little lazy without the saddle, but really worked once I got him going. We worked with the flag a generous amount with him saddled and he does work himself up about it. I am starting to be a little more careless with the flag as opposed to the really careful work I normally do with it, to try to keep desensitizing him. He got nervous and flew back one time, but we came back together calmly and continued to work. We ended on a really good note and I was really happy with him.
Came to barn at about 9 am today. Started working chief around 9:30- Same routine… without saddle-without flag, without saddle with flag, with saddle without flag, with saddle with flag. Astrid told me to keep up with my flag work under saddle especially since he is slowly getting accustomed to it. He was performing really well and I really pushed him today. We did half circles down the arena multiple times until he calmed. He freaked a bit but I kept working him and calmed when he needed the rest, and to re group. But he really was a rock star with the pressure, compared to his old blow ups. No bucking at all.
We also did a couple girth tests and found out that if you tighten the girth and then walk off a bit and do a tight circle quickly he jumps, and startles. It is a really girthy reaction. We worked through that a few times and got him to a place with no reaction at all. But that will have to be consistent work every time I work him, and I will have to be aware of this each time I ride him.
So he was a little bit skittish at the mounting block… nothing crazy just a higher held head, and a slight turning away from it. Which is unusual for him but we worked him through it and I mounted with no problem. He was really good, and Astrid adjusted my girth for me. We walked off with no problem and had no problems with any of the half circles or changes in direction we did the entire time. We just worked on walk trot circles, downward transitions, circles and backing. I am getting used to the new bit and keeping my hands really soft with it. I still have my one hand on the horn, and Astrid has his head on a lunge just in case. I am a slow and steady wins the race kind of rider. But I felt so comfortable, and he was so great, and I felt more comfortable asking him to do things. He was really calm the entire time, and I had NO issues with him while riding. I even kept him trotting when he wanted to quit with no issues (previously he would throw a little fit.) So needless to say I was really proud of him and the work we have been doing together. Next ride will be next Sunday, but consistent groundwork between now and then. Hopefully the weather holds out.
I am feeling so much more confident and comfortable, and I think we are forming a bond I did not have with him before. I really love him so darn much. And I thank God for being with me and hearing my prayers about this. I know he is driving me through this whole process. And I am happy to have a man in my life who supports me in all of this also. I have never been so dedicated to something in my life and stuck with it like this. I am humbled that I have had this experience thus far. I think Chief is so smart and very aware, so for him to be gaining confidence and trust as a result of the work we are doing together, I could not be happier.