Over the weekend I was going to try to get pictures for both blogs, this one and TWGH. I brought Kat out to drive him Saturday night and just as I was putting him to the cart the wind kicked up. It was a strange wind that you couldn't really tell which direction it was blowing in from. Out to the South and East, the skies were dark and looking like we could get some rain. Which we did.
There was also a bunch of lightning going on. Both the flash type and the bolts striking the ground or whatever it was hitting. Which made me think climbing into a metal cart in a lightning storm was NOT a good idea. I don't care if it has rubber tires on it... I already had the shafts through the tugs and the traces hooked. My cones were all out and the storm was headed our way. So much for doing anything with the horses.
Last week I had tried the nylon harness on the TB mare to see if it was going to fit and what adjustments if any, needed to be made... What a joke! No pictures, but it won't work for her. The saddle fit, one hole to adjust larger on both sides, but not any more. The crupper fit, but not the breeching, the breastcollar might work but the strap over the neck is too short and the traces definitely won't. Since they are attached... yeah, not happening.
Then came the bridle. I am so glad this mare is patient and tolerant beyond everything. The bit adjustments were on the last hole as long as they go. The buckles to adjust the blinders were let down and by the time the bit was positioned where it should be? The top of the blinders were low enough she could look over them. The metal piece that is supposed to hold them out to the sides, was laying on her forehead. She sighed and gave me a look as if to say, Seriously??? This is a joke, right?
Sunday night I headed out to work Pal. Something in the neighbors oleander bush next to the fence in the corner, was out to get him. He knew it was there, something was going to jump out and when it did, he would be eaten. Which also caused him to forget how to lunge. He would blast around past the bush, then whip his butt around to the outside and stop to face me and the killer in the plant. I managed to get some pictures of him moving before getting out a whip and putting a stop to his game.
This one looks kind of dark but clicking on it brings it up bigger with more light.
Heading towards the oleander....
Yep, I had left my buckets and poles out too. Another driving obstacle.
You can see here, he is looking at the oleander and still has and ear on me. That bush really had him on edge. Even after walking him up to the corner and making him stand there, he still though something was going to get him.
All it took was the whip popping a few times behind his butt and a miracle happened. He remembered how to go around on the lunge line and to keep moving. No crowding towards the center, no egg shaped circles, his brain returned and he started to work. He also started to sweat. Which is something he seems to be strongly against doing.
When he finally settled down and started to work, It was time to put the bridle on, attach the lines and ground drive. He walked off with no hesitation, no questioning glances, just leaned into the bridle and walked off. Lots of circles, big and small, stop, wait, then walk some more.
Things were going well so I decided to kick it up a notch. I brought in my shaft poles for training. What they consist of is a piece of heavy 1" rope with a snap on one end, run through a long piece of 1" PVC pipe. The other end has a knot in it to keep the PVC pipe up by the snap. They are a good weight and teach the horse how to move between the shafts, make noise behind them as the ends slide along through the dirt and are relatively cheap to make. As well as being easy to replace if things go wrong.
Like they did for us.
At first I brought the pipe/shafts in and adjusted things so that I could hold the rein as well as hold on to the shafts and drag them around as we went. Let the horse hear the noise and understand it is not going to hurt them. Adjust the rein in the hand through your fingers on top of the shaft, so that you can drop the shaft, but still hold onto the rein, if need be. You can always come back by and pick up the shaft again. If you have a helper that can walk along beside you with the shafts- even better, but many times most of us don't.
Pal seemed unfazed by the sound so I ran the shafts through the tugs on each side and snapped them to the ring on the breastcollar. I let him stand there for a little bit before asking him to walk on. A few laps around and a couple of turns into our work and Pal blew up. He started to trot ahead, then added in some bucking and the rodeo was on. He pulled the lines through my hands and took off across the arena. He ran to the corner to stand next to the WB
I walked up to him, led him out of the corner and asked him to stop and stand. I let him settle down and waited for him to relax. Once he did, I checked everything to make sure nothing had broken, everything was still fastened and in place where it should be. I kept talking to him the whole time. Telling him how he just needed to relax and nothing was going to hurt him. Haaaa!
We started walking again, he was doing fine. I praised him. A few laps around and he put his head down. When he did, the ring on the saddle that the overcheck snaps to- BROKE! The snap flipped up over his head and smacked him right in the forehead. He was not amused. He started to buck again and threw a tantrum.
This time I kept a hold of the lines and brought him around in a circle to the right as if doing long line work. He was still jumping and diving, but slowing down and decreasing the intensity with each jump. **This is when longer lines than the actual reins are a safety issue. The horse can kick and you stay out of range.**
I almost had him stopped when he decided he wasn't done yet. He bucked a few more times and spun around to face me. As the shafts swung around behind him he looked at me with bugged out eyes. His back hoof came down on one of the shafts and he bent the PVC pipe, which rattled him a little. He kept his head though and settled down to stand there. I took the shafts off of him and long lined him a little more before calling it good for the day.
***As far as the horses blowing up, throwing tantrums and having a fit- it is better that they do it now and learn to trust that you will always get them through things. They can also learn to work through their tantrums. It's a lot like the young horses bucking the first few times they wear a saddle on their backs. I prefer this than if they hold it all in, waiting until they are put to the cart. Kat had his share of minor fits and gave me signs along the way, he just waited for the epic one and picked that day at the horsepark... It can be fun, but can also be incredibly dangerous at the same time. The best any of us can do is try to lessen the chances of danger as we go. ***