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Things In Cruze Land

DThings are….okay.

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.

How he feels about being a good boy. I took all his fun away. 

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.

The non stop down pours have wreaked havoc on arena Puddles everywhere and it is either actively raining or not dried out enough to get in there and tear it up so the grass and weeds are back. I’m about ready to cash in my chips and have someone come scrape everything off and put all new footing in. I just need to sell a kidney to afford it.

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’s ride was cut short by a nasty storm rolling. Again. Thankfully I dismounted and had put two of the horses back out before a rogue lightning bolt struck a tree in the woods behind the pond. It has been nasty out folks. 

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.

His opinions of life in general. I have been taking him in the arena in his halter to bridle him there instead of in the barn to work on his standing still skills in the open. He has improved leaps and bounds and now no longer tries to walk away as soon as the halter or bridle is slipped over his nose. 

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.

Life isn’t so bad buddy

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.

Don’t let him fool you…he run, gallops and plays with Pete all day in the pasture with nary a limp in sight. 

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.

Not too painful to call Pete on to a game of chase and bitey face

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.

Rainbow to the left, blue sky and the moon to the right. It was an almost eery night with wicked nasty storms.

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.

Still love his spotted nose. More so now that it isn’t constantly trying to eat me. 

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.

23 thoughts on “Things In Cruze Land”

  1. I think you’re on to something there. Putting him on the lunge, you got to see the behavior that was making you nervous, saw it wasn’t really anything much, correct it, and move on. In the saddle, having seen it, you reacted differently. Cruze is smart, he scares you, he gets a reaction and ideally gets out of work. You don’t react? What’s the point of working extra hard. If you need those 5 minutes on the line to train your brain that all that behavior is is nothing much, DO IT. You’ll be more confident and in turn, you aren’t going to react in the saddle and he’s probably not going to keep it up (or, at first, it’ll be a half hearted effort). The problem it, he’s an appy and he’s smart. So, if he can get out of work, he will. He doesn’t want to hurt you, but he’s got his own self interest in mind too and if he can do just enough to live the life of no flat work? why not? After all, the second he does something fun, he seems to not even bother.

    I think you’ll be just fine and as his feet feel better and the weather cooperates, everything will improve too. He’s still challenging his belief that you bought him and retired him. And then changed your mind!

    Also, Subi went in a plain d ring snaffle for years. Then a friend had a try a myler comfort snaffle and I can’t explain the difference. I didn’t know I had a bit problem until I tried that bit. LOVED IT SO MUCH. Batt did too but I refused to buy him one because I’m cheap. I can probably give it to him now that Subi’s retired but he’s fine in his copper mouth double jointed loose ring… And I haven’t 100% acknowledged Subi’s retirement by taking down his bridle.

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  2. I just love his speckled nose ❤ sounds like things are going well and that you’re learning a lot about him. Building new partnerships is always so hard bc it’s impossible to really know what is “normal” or not. But the work you’re doing sounds great! Hopefully as his feet improve and he becomes more sound your confidence to get out there and do the things will just keep growing!

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  3. With the rooting, is he dropping his head and trying to take the reins out of your hands? Or is it more of a back hunching thing?

    Gwyn does/did more of the first, dropping her head like she was stretching but trying to seriously pull rein from me. Dressage trainer had me boot her forward every time she did it and the problem went away within TWO RIDES.

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    1. He tried to rip the reins out of my hands to avoid real work. Trainer tells me to boot him forward as well. The bigger issue with me is I can have some pretty rigid elbows which gives him something to pull against. Once I soften those and let them move he then has nothing and it goes away.

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      1. That’s legit. I can have locked elbows too, haha. The good part about booting him forward is that he then associates a consequence (forward/more work) in response to him yanking rein.

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  4. Great update! Cruze seems like a good boy, but also like he’s gotten his way for some time. That can be tough to work with, but also have great results. I had a mare who was similar. Not ill intentioned, just some bad habits we had to change. She ended up being a great partner. I love following along with the two of you!

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    1. He reminds me of a spoiled toddler in a lot of ways. Once I figured that out I applied my mom voice and tactics and he is responding very well to it. Firm but fair with a lot of praise for good behavior and ignoring the bad.

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  5. I am a fan of lunging, but I know what you mean about not liking it. Some people overuse and abuse lunging. But it is a good tool to have in your box, and you found out why it can be so good. Assessing a horses movement and way of going, assessing behaviors. It’s also great for teaching them new concepts, installing your voice commands and also just getting them mentally ready to work. I hope his feet continue to improve so you can take him to fun events and of course awesome riding lessons.

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  6. Sounds like improvement on many fronts, and that is encouraging for more progress to come.

    Side note: I finally got some volunteer hours in! 4 hours jump judging at an unrated schooling event nearby.

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  7. I am wondering if this change in behaviour is related to pain in his feet.

    I know you’re eager to keep him barefoot but have you tried boots to see if that eliminates some of the behaviours you’re seeing?

    I’d be looking at that and assessing his feed first.

    Bumper is super quiet, so when I started having issues with him a lot of people put it down to young horse testing me out but he very much isn’t like that. It turned out to be a reaction to one small dietary change (sensitive petal) but caused everything from over the top behaviour to stocking up of fluid in his hind legs.

    Removed the cause and he went straight back to normal.

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    1. I do ride in boots on occasion. It doesn’t make a difference in his way of going or attitude. I know he is sore up front but it’s only the first 10 minutes of the ride that he acts up. Once he realizes he still has to work he stops. He did this shod as well and I thought the first time was the pouring rain and the second time was the fact we were xc schooling in a group but after the third time I realized it’s just him.

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