Monday- A bit frustrated by the lack of success Sunday, Adrianne and I were back at it Monday morning. We had a tighter time frame to work with this time. With Ravens fear of humans in high places, I had Adrianne sit on the top rail of the round pen. While I warmed him up. As expected he avoided that side of the arena. I would ask him to canter a few laps then let him rest below Adrianne. If he stood there he could rest, if he shied away I would have him do more laps. He was still pretty uneasy about every thing and we were running out of time, so we left it for a day.
Tuesday Raven had off. Wednesday Raven and I got a dose of Jim Barton Horsemanship. Jim the Mountain man from North Carolina is my farrier that has sponsored many of my mustangs in the past. For the last 46 years he has been shoeing horses, and in his younger years to make some extra money, he would start horses to be used shortly after for kids camps all summer. Having a short amount of time to produce kid safe horse Jim had learned a few effective shortcuts to getting a horse less reactive. At this point I have not found an effective way to interrupt ravens pattern of exploding. If the next attempt doesn’t work, the exploding will become a learned pattern of how to not be ridden! This is the last thing that I want to have happen because his future will be affected. Many of you have asked me what happens to the horses that don’t train. Well there are a few options, I could find an adopter and opt out of the competition, I could opt out of the competition and turn him in to the BLM where he could be adopted again up to the age of 6, and if he was not readopted he would go into long term holding to live out his years. None of these options appealed to me and of course being the problem solver that I am, I can not let this learning opportunity escape me. Back to Jim. When he had horses as resistant and reactive as raven he would pull out a latago strap with a steel ring attached to it and place it around the horses neck. From there he would take a lead line and loop it around the back hind leg in the same fashion that I have done to teach horses to handle their back legs. Instead of wrapping the rope over the back and around the front of the horses like when I am teaching a horse to not struggle against foot handling, he would attach it to the neck collar just long enough that raven could still have his foot on the ground. Doesn’t sound like much but with this set up if raven launches himself forward the leg strap will catch his front end and pull him around immediately… interrupting the pattern! Once raven learned that he could not escape from the stimulus (mounting) he had to come up with another coping mechanism. It only took a few minutes for raven to realize plan “A” no longer worked and for the first time I was able to practice mounting safely and help Raven find his confidence with this.
Thursday and Friday, you guessed it, we worked on mounting! His jumping became less and less each day.
Saturday our barn was participating in the Canton Christmas parade. I dolled Raven up in my black and gold driving harness, and adorned him with red ribbon and bells. I loaded Raven up for the first time in my two horse straight load trailer. He walked right on and only jumped a little as I closed the door. We got to the line up and found a quiet place to put the finishing touches on Raven’s getup. We carefully found our way up to our line up position through all of the floats, golf carts and marching bands. Raven was a little overwhelmed but kept his composure. The parade progressed on its way and the bigger challenged that faced Raven was the fleet of mounted horses that would be marching behind him the whole time. Raven did great, he walked at a slight angle to keep his two eyes on me the whole time. His only scooch moment was when one of the horses behind him got to close and bit him on the rump! I would scooch too!