The elusive horse mind

Dandy08Aug16-01My friendly coach (friend and coach ?) Daniel Dauphin likes to remind me that horse training works in cycles. Sometimes the horse keeps on getting better, then peaks then… well… a down cycle happens (read in plain English : it all goes to shit). That is what happened to Dandy and I. I mid July he was doing amazingly well for a recently started 2 yr old, loping off a mere suggestion, bending, counter bending, and neckreining like a seasoned show horse. He also came galloping from the far end of his (very large) pasture when I showed up at the gate and whistled. Fast forward 10 days, just the time it took me to work a decent tan at the beach, and what I found when I came back was a totally different horse.

Dandy21Aug16-01Sulling up, NO forward, a lot of “no” in him about this and that, plenty of offers to buck if I put a little spur, or even leg, on him, etc. The bending was gone, counter bending don’t even mention it, and just getting him to move out was an ordeal. On top of what he’s changed from a big lush field to a smaller, grubby paddock, and he seems to want very little to do with me at all when I show up with a halter and rope.

Dandy13Aug16-01I did a lot of different things to try to improve that. I asked for more, I asked for less, I removed the spurs, I tried to get his mind engaged with tarp work and opening gates. He never told me to plain fuck off, but he certainly made no mistery that he’d rather be doing anything else…

Dandy09Aug16-01Summer is not over, so we got to leave another few days, in a lovely part of the country. Dandy got another 1 week break. Upon coming back, I went back to check on him yesterday, he was a little standoffish and slightly adversarial, so I went back again this morning and we worked on getting our team functioning again. He learned what a lungewhip is, and that a bucking fit is *not* the answer to a forward request. He learned that great forward leads to a quiet rider, and started to yield his shoulder again. At some point a party of 4 horses gathered in front of the arena, then headed out towards the trail. He got upset, zoomed about all over the arena screaming in their direction, while I chose to withstand the storm by ignoring it and just keeping him loping around. While they had disappeared he settled down some, and after working on the back-up for a minute I put him up. The upside of the story is that we found none of the “scary places” he’s usually concerned with.

Dandy21Aug16-02Tomorrow we’ll do the same again, only a bit better, hopefully, and tackling some softening and bending. Stay tuned for the results…




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