I board a horse in Blackwater, north of Uxbridge. His name is Apache, and we just became companions in the beginning on September. I have not ridden in years, and am new to learning natural Horsemanship. I have had a few lessons with him, and have done research on groundwork, and we have worked together to the best of my ability, thus far. I realized two days ago that the two of us have a long way to go, in that since he has been moved to this barn, we seem to have lost a bit of our connection and trust. This is due to a few different things, cheifly among them my inability to be able to get up there as often as I would like over the last few weeks.
I had a diffifcult weekend with Apache. He was not feeling so hot on Saturday, and we had a really hard time communicating. he broke into a gallop on me (i am only comfortable at a jog with him so far) and I had zero control over him - my mother-in-law had to help me stop him. On sahky legs, I had to get off and walk away from him for a few minutes. The lack of respect on the ground was quickly apparent, as he wouldn't come to me, wouldn't follow my lunging efforts, and basically shunned me with his eyes and ears. I did a little bit of ground work with him to calm him down, and after a quick curry, I released him back to the paddock.
I went back up again on Sunday, and took my coffee into the field with me. He watched me with one eye while he ate, occasionally lifting his head and looking right at me. I knew I had to reassert myself as his leader, and I took an opportuntiy to do this when he and another horse were eating, and the other horse made him move out of the way. I walked over to them and moved them both out of the way. I repeated this action with only him for about 40 minutes, occasionally going over and moving him because I could. He paid more and more attention to where i was in the field, which is what I wanted. I didn't expect him, nor did I want him to, fully yield to me and come over to me unasked.
When I decided he had been moved arbitrarily enough times, I put the halter on him and led him away. We did a few lateral lunging exercises -him coming up to me on my left side when I poitned to the left, and vice versa. We did a little work on backing up and coming forward. His flexion increased with each activity, to the point where I could stand beside him and he would train one eye on me without me having to apply pressure on the halter. We worked on walking and halting, at my lead, and he responded very well, and I could see his tension level decreasing. At the end of my time in the paddock with him, he was walking withn me, without me holding the lead.
I took him into the sandring and worked on lunging some more. By the time I thought he had had enough for the day, he was practically falling alseep in the sunshine, with his head lowered and eyes very soft.
Today I have spent some serious time putting together some activities for us that will work on building that trust back up. I'm ramping up my visits to the barn, and I am hoping that both of us will benefit. I've learned so much from him already! Visit back to see how we make out with our new training activities. Happy riding!