Yes, unfortunately, it is true, Blu and I have hit a roadblock. More like we drew the “go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200” card.
After about a week of horsey time off, I had decided yesterday was going to be my day to spend grooming, bonding, and riding. I rounded up the horses from the pasture and haltered Blu. I brought her to the horse trailer and tied her as usual. I opened the tack room door and retrieved a grooming brush. Blu spooked at the brush and pulled back… only for about 2 seconds, but still, she had never done this before. This should have been my first clue that things would not go as planned for my day.
I decided it was probably best to take her into the fenced riding arena to tack her up, that way I didn’t have to have her tied, I would just make her think she was by looping the rope around the fence post once. As I hauled all the tack out Blu became more spooked. So badly that it was extremely difficult to simply place the pad on her back! Over and over I rubbed the pad on her and placed it over her back. And every time I thought she was over it, I would approach her and it was like starting from scratch. I paused to remember all the horse training shows I have watched. Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy. I would longe her for several minutes and only allow her to rest when she was standing near the saddle and pad.
Longe, rest, longe, rest, approach, retreat, approach, retreat, over and over and over…
Blu also decided to pull another trick out of her hat… she decided to put on the brakes… I had put her in her stall at one point to saddle her. of course! what a brilliant idea! There, that went well, lets go… or not… she planted her feet and would not leave her stall. O.k. maybe Blu new more than I did. It was probably a bad idea to have her maneuver through door ways while saddled, she may catch a stirrup on something and have another catastrophic saddle incident. So, I unsaddled her. Let’s go now…. or not… feet still firmly planted. I could back her and circle her, but not get her to leave her stall. Oh my gosh! This was really happening to me. I went inside to eat lunch 😦
Back out to the stalls 30 minutes later. I lead Blu to the trailer and saddled her. She was still spooky but at least I accomplished this seemingly easy task. I went into the arena to bridle her, then I mounted, and she acted as if nothing had ever happened. This took me almost 4 hours to get to this point.
My original plans were to have our first riding adventure into the pasture area. My modified plans were now to simply have a safe ride in the arena without spooks. 20 minutes of walk, trot, walk, trot, back, side pass to the right, walk, back, I’m happy with this, get off.
Now, let’s saddle again… this should be easy enough, right? Wrong! By this time my son had shown up and was inside visiting, I called him out to give a hand. We saddled her several times with, let’s say “mild” difficulty.
I am very aware that my initial attempts to saddle would have been significantly minimized if I would have had another hand to help, but no such luck. I probably made a mountain out of a mole hill by insisting I saddle her. I should have realized this and moved to something else, but once I was so far in I simply couldn’t give up, or in.
Tonight I had my daughter go out with me to help saddle her, no riding tonight, just saddle. It was another “event”. I put her in her stall for the night to think things over a bit. I have been racking my brain to try and think how this has happened. What changes have I made recently? This is what I have come up with:
- Blu has significantly more turnout time with the other 3 mares, only stalled in severe weather.
- Blu is grazing approximately 8-12 hours a day on fair pasture.
- I have started giving Blu 1/2 to 1 scoop of grain 1-2 times per day, as I usually do when we begin working the horses.
- I spent considerably less time with Blu the past week.
My new blu plan:
- Stall every night.
- Less time with the herd.
- No significant amount of grain. It will be my treat to her that she will enjoy in my presence.
- More hand walking and having “us” time. I don’t want her to dread seeing me come, thinking it will only result in work.
- Saddle Blu every day, no exceptions!
This might seem a bit harsh, but I want to get back to a routine, and I want her to see me as the one that brings her water and food and look forward to our walks and grazing time. I will continue with saddling every day until it is accomplished without incident and with ease. I think the increase in grain may have been a bit much for her, I believe her previous owner told me she never gave her grain in the past, an occasional treat, but no grain. She has certainly developed an “on edge” type of behavior, I believe it can be contributed to several factors, including the saddle incident of a few weeks ago.
Wish me luck 🙂