A brutal and unexpected change, or when to cowboy up and adapt

The first week of April has been a kick in the gut and Dandy and I had to suck it in, adapt, and bounce back. I won’t go into the sordid details but a very nasty fight emerged from the lady who was boarding him (over a remark and request I had about his massive weight loss) and within 48h he was transferred to another yard. The swap itself was done under high stress, the air brimming with human conflict. He had to trek through an inusual route, and load into a tiny one-horse, boxlike, trailer, alongside a highway. He went through the whole thing with absolutely zero concern or alert, just walked up to the trailer, sniffed it, and up the ramp. I let him rest for a few seconds then backed him up and rubbed his forehead. Then I slipped under the chest bar, and from the inside of the trailer asked him to come all the way in. A sugar cube mid-way, and he was in.

I arrived at the new stable to find him standing statue like and staring rigid at his surroundings, a lady gripping the rope right under his chin. I walked up to her, said thank you, and got a hold of the lead, a good 1.5m from the snap. He visibly relaxed, though still concerned and alert. I led him straight to the large sand uncovered arena and put him to work right there. Forward, bend, back-up, getting softness, we worked and worked until he was connected to me and responding well. His first night was uneventful and the introduction to the herd went well.

Dandy05avr17-02

The new place is 3 (THREE !!) minutes from home, and that’s amazing. I can pretty much visit him everyday if I fancy to. That’s a real luxury. The place isn’t without challenges though. First of all, it’s an “English” type place, so our Western garb and my helmetless riding is attracting attention, not always positive. The general approach seems pretty yank-and-crank there, and though I know way better than offering anything but total neutrality and zero opinion or advice, my own relaxed and focused handling can be perceived as offensive to the less effective riders (it’s happened before !). And Dandy seems quite concerned about the new surroundings so far, especially with the one pasture facing the long side of the arena, where a bunch of mysterious (to him) species graze. Sheep, lamas, spotted deer, and… a cow !

Dandy05avr17-03As you can see he needs much feeding to make up for some rather drastic loss

Dandy06Avr17-01

Dandy05avr17-01I’ve ridden him twice so far in the new arena, and he’s been quite reactive both times, but we kept our lose rein “where do you want to go” routine and worked through the rough spots. The alarming presence of the livestock next door got him into a weird state of “hightened awareness”, and rather than the “dull” feel than he sometimes offers, it was like I was riding a finished reiner, with helicopter-like responsiveness. I had a massive stop, and some pretty impressive progress on the spin. We ended up on a good note and put him up for a one week vacation as we’re leaving town for the holidays. Upon our return he’ll get a good trim from our new “natural trimmer”, stay tuned for the report !

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