A lot of his ground behaviors have improved tremendously since I got firm with him over his biting and I have not had to repeat the correction since. Things he now does nicely like a well behaved boy:
- Stands quietly and without moving in the cross ties
- Picks up all 4 hooves without whipping his head around to bite me or ripping the leg out of my hand
- Stands to be bridled without running away
- Allows the bridle to be buckled without trying to eat the straps or my leg
- Goes into the arena without stopping twenty times along the way to stare off in the distance for other horses
- Enter the arena without screaming at all. Not one single time.
All those are major steps in a very short period of time and the big orange man gets tons of praise and pats each time he does so. It’s been refreshing to not battle those any more.
Under saddle things are still hit and miss. The ride immediately after the one when he ugly bucked me off was lovely. He was clam, cool headed and went to work. I stopped after only walking for about 20 minutes to reward his change in attitude.
Then three days passed before I could ride him again. That ride was eh. He did all the above nice behaviors but then under saddle he kept snaking his head back and forth and threatening to be very bad indeed. I was able to shut it down and work through it and after 10 minutes he settled. The rest of the 40 minute walk/trot ride was nice. He rooted down a lot and wasn’t fully paying attention to me but I worked him through Exercise 1 of the Jumping book and added some trot poles to perk him up and keep it interesting and he did ok.
He is still a little off trotting right. He isn’t head bobbing any longer but does short stride so I am keeping the trot sets short and working mostly on having a non explosive transition.
Last night I decided to try lunging him first. I admit I despise lunging before riding. Deep in my bones despise. I’d rather not ride than have to lunge before I can get on my horse. But I figured I’d give it a whirl and see if it made a difference.
I don’t think it really did much for him. He wasn’t an idiot on the line. In fact he listened extremely well to my body language and voice commands and was in general very gentleman like. I don’t know if he was just in a good mood or what but he did just fine.
What it was good for was my eyes on him to see how he was moving and what he looks like. In the first trot transition, he tucked his chin, snaked his head side to side and leaped into the trot. Now riding this is what slightly terrifies me and makes me very tense as it feels like he is either going to bolt or rear or a combination of both. Watching it from the ground it looked more like he was just flailing into the trot instead of truly being awful. The second time I asked he went into it just fine like a normal horse.
When I got on him he tried to tell me he was done and couldn’t possibly work after 5 minutes on the lunge. He eventually caved and realized we were still working and while he tried to be a butt head the first transition and then again during the trot when he was bored, I was much calmer about it and ignored him instead of getting worked up.
That really helped and he soon settled and got down to working. His rooting against my hand never showed up and I’m not sure if that was due to stretching his back super low on the lunge or because I wasn’t getting tense. Probably both. I made sure to really praise him and give him scratches with every transition to the trot that he performed calmly and in balance and just ignore those that had some flailing involved.
Honestly if he hadn’t had such a nice PPE and hadn’t been sound before his feet went to crap I’d be super worried I bought a lame horse. As it is his movement improves daily and I have a few weeks of shod delight to compare to.
I did order a new bit for him as he was going in a myler d ring snaffle and the seller said that was his favorite of all she had tried with him. I’ve been having him go in a regular French link snaffle. I don’t put a lot of faith into a bit change making a lot of difference but I want to take all the factors out of play that I can.
Speaking of that I’m also starting him on two weeks of ulcer meds. Between the move to green pastures, the crippled feet and bute use he has a laundry list of risk factors going against him. Might as well treat and see if it makes a difference. He eats well and isn’t girthy but you never know.
Once he is 100% sound I also plan to have the massage therapist and chiro out to work out any issues that walking oddly created. Basically I’m trying to set him up for success physically so that he doesn’t have any excuses.
I really really want a lesson on him but I am waiting a bit more until he is sound going right. He is so close but not fully there yet and there is no reason to rush this at all. He is young and we have a long future together to get over sticks and gallop down the lane. My closer goal is to be able to take him to the hunter paces in his boots once they begin next month but we will see how he is moving at that time.
Right now I’m just trying to work slowly with him to build an understanding and figure out what he needs to be successful. I want this partnership to work and I am willing to put the time in.