I saw the moment Calypso figured it out! If you’ve been reading my previous blogs I’ve been working with my filly, who’s now a mare, and I have some serious back problems. I don’t want to give up on this mare just because of my back issue, but I have for two years. I had an incident of her rearing up, then spinning around me, that laid me up for several days, so I don’t want to do that again!
I ask my readers for suggestions on working with this mare while keeping myself safe from hurting myself again. As of yet I have received no help on the matter, so I will just keep posting what I’m doing and maybe someone will come up with an idea. So far things have been going pretty well. I have many years of horse training, riding, eventing in my past, the thing is now, I’ve herniated two disks which, in turn, allowed the L5 to slip over the L4. This situation will never go away. It’s painful sometimes, but I can’t just give up on life over some pain. It’s a little tricky coming up with idea’s of how to train a horse with these obstacles, but I’m actually getting somewhere with it!
Going back to last week, read it here, I had put the saddle on Calypso with the intention of letting her buck it out, without me on her back! I had her tied to a tree, and of course, she untied herself and walked over to me. I took the lead line off and shooed her away and she went into rodeo mode! You see she doesn’t mind the saddle when she is walking, but as soon as I ask her to trot she starts swinging her head and trying to buck, and forget a lope!
My theory, have her practice being tied, with the saddle on, and then tack her off the tie and run her around the pasture saddled, then re-tie her and let her practice being tied for another 15 – 20 minutes. This way I’m hitting two birds with one stone; get her used to being tied for a period of time (with George nickering like crazy), and get her to be best friends with her saddle.
The first time, last week, we had the rodeo. She bucked every time she ran across the pasture. She wore herself out in no time. The next day I wasn’t able to get out to her, not because of my back, I have another business I had to work at. But the day after I was able to get out there with her. What a day that turned out to be! I was expecting another rodeo, but instead I got, vicious horsey attack!
I stand by the tree with a treat, halter in hand. This way I can halter her and tie her immediately while George is in his screaming fit. This is working out perfect. I brushed her down, brought the saddle pad over and laid it on her back, her head goes up, not good. I go get the saddle, her head is still real high, I’m getting concerned at this point. I set the saddle on her back, I never throw it on her, I set it on her. I go around doing the fixing on it, it’s all good, but her head is still held high. I reach under her and grab the cinch to tie it and she turns her head to look at what I’m doing, I nudge her face away. She keeps poking her big nose at my hands trying to get the cinch straight. I push her face away again, and she turns her head up high again, but she’s watching me out of the side of her eye. I put the cinch strap through the loop, down through the straps loop and up through the loop again, so I have it at the point where it’s not going to come off, it’s the time to pull up the slack, you know what I mean?
I’m holding the end of the cinch strap getting ready to snug it up, and she starts turning her rear end right into me, so I stab her with my thumb and tell her, “Get off!” She totally ignores me and continues pressing into me with her rear end until I have to start backing up to avoid being run over. I give her another harder stab with my thump and tell her again, “GET OFF!” (meaning get off of me). She stops at that point and goes the other direction to get away from my stabbing thumb and me working on the cinch, but I still have the strap in my hand! So when she side-passed away from me, I held and pulled on the strap which tightened up really nice with her side passing away from me. She DID NOT like that at all! She turned and tried to bite me! And I’m not talking a nip, I’m talking mouth wide open, teeth bared, I’m gonna bite you bitch! kind of bite! When a horse kicks at you with its hide legs it’s an indirect irritation, like “Oh, sorry, I didn’t notice my back legs kicking at you.” Sort of thought process. But when they bite at you, that is a direct, “You’ve really ticked me off and I’m gonna hurt you for it.” I couldn’t believe it, I would never have thought that of her, but it certainly didn’t stop either one of us, she kept side passing around the tree and I let her side pass tighten the cinch. She finally stopped when the cinch wouldn’t tighten anymore.
I left her tied for a few minutes, for one because she needs the practice, and number two, I wasn’t sure of her state of mind, she still had her head up high. I busied myself nearby for a while, she brought her head down and became bored, so I let her off the lead line and shooed her off to run with the saddle on.
The rodeo had started again. She ran off twisting her head, bucking and running all at the same time. She ran straight over to George’s paddock, I pursued her, she bolted down the hill, bucking, swinging her head, bucking. She ran up the hill, I just had to start towards her and she ran back down the hill towards George carrying on. Then, you won’t believe this, I started towards her and she started her bucking run down the hill, and suddenly she stopped bucking and took off into a dead run! I’ve never seen her move so fast in my life! It’s like she was one with the saddle instead of fighting it! I walked towards where she had run off to and she saw me coming and again, with an unbelievable burst of speed she blew down the hill, not a buck in site! She figured out how it works!! She ran to the other side by George and without my prompting, she blasted off again beautifully, sailing down the hill and up the other side. She had finally figured out how to run with the saddle. I could see her use the saddle for stability as she turned, she put the saddle into the turn instead of trying to stay upright in the turn with the saddle. She put her shoulder down to let the saddle hold her turn and she blasted off again! I think she’s having fun with it! I thought I was going to cry. I’m not kidding. To see that moment when she became one with the saddle was incredible! I let her walk around the pasture with the saddle on for a while afterwards for her cool down. I worked on the fence. Eventually, I mean like 20 minutes later, she came to me. Calm as a cucumber with her saddle on. I tied her and let her sit for a bit. Gave her a bucket of grain and removed the saddle with no incidents.
I can’t wait to work her again, hopefully tonight. I have to get that saddle back on her within a day to reinforce her wearing it, and running with it. Such a huge step forward for her. She now knows the saddle isn’t her enemy, it can be her alliance. When she can do this every time I put the saddle on her, I can consider putting myself up there in it, but not today, and not tomorrow, but someday. 🙂
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Video’s of Calypso and George here