One foot in the stirrup....

This striking 12 year old paint gelding was a bucking stock stallion for all of his life until a couple of days ago. He is now on the road to recovery and trust as he learns that not all humans are bad!

One foot in the stirrup....

Postby Juliane on Tue Nov 14, 2006 9:25 pm

Good ol' Ace. I sure love that boy! Though every time I work with him, I feel like I'm a therapist. Every step along the way that he's just scared out of his mind, we stop and take a break, while I reassure him and tell him it will be ok. Seeing his physical relief, as his shoulders slump, breath releases and his mouth works is what keeps me pushing him for more!

I got home from work and picking up Cassidy from school today at about 4:30pm. The horses were still in stalls since I had to leave for work early and it was pretty cold and wet out. I let them all out except Ace. Instead, I went into his stall with a halter. This immediately put him on edge because it was different from the 'norm'. He stood tense and white eyed as I haltered him and then asked him to come out of the stall.

I put him in the cross ties and groomed him down. He is the most fuzzy of all the horses right now - it's quite hilarious! I feel like I am brushing a buffalo! While he seemed to calm down with my rhythmic brushing, he was still on alert and jumpy :( At least he's breathtakingly beautiful when he looks like this!

Image

Image

As I got the saddle and pad out, he again became worried. I was slow and methodical in my movements, though the tightening of the girth is often too much for him to handle. So, I didn't snug it up, instead leaving it fairly lose, but enough so that it wouldn't slip sideways. When I came out of the tack room with a breast collar, Ace became very scared and snorty. He was definitely very afraid of the breast collar - I wonder if it reminded him of a flank strap?

He let me put it on the saddle without any issues, but his initial reaction startled me. Poor guy - I'd hate to think what he's been through in his life!

Image

I took him out to the round pen, which was his first time. He was good at following me, but wasn't so sure I wasn't trying to lead him off a cliff. LOL What a scaredy cat! :P Once inside the round pen, I tightened up the saddle. This was hard for him to tolerate, though he tried his hardest. I was able to get it most of the way tight when he decided to explode. He lunged away, did a few half hearted bucks, then stopped and looked at me, completely embarressed. I approached him and gave him lots of love, kisses and hugs and told him it was ok. Then, I sent him off to work off some of his jitteries.

Image

Image

After a short while, I decided to bridle him. He was good at this, though the first attempt ended with him lurching away in fear. It was my fault - once the bit was in his mouth, his head went up, which caused me to take a step back in order to put the bridle over his ears. Unfortunately, my backwards step was right onto his front hoof. That freaked him out. Poor guy! He was REALLY jumpy tonight!

I approached again and tried to bridle him one more time. This time it was a success for both of us. He mouthed it a bit and wasn't too pleased with me, but got over it fairly quickly.

Image

I put one of my driving reins on him and worked on having him give to the pressure of the bit and rein. The first time he felt the rope on his rump and hindquarters, he about jumped out of his skin. However, the thing I like the best about Ace is that he quickly comes to his senses. Even if he has to be reminded the next time you work with him, he will usually get over his fears once proven that it's not going to hurt him. Tonight was no different. Within a few moments, I had him giving to the pressure of the rein (unwinding himself) in both directions. What a good boy!

Image

Image

From there, I decided to work on ground driving him. The first time I attempted to ground drive him, he completely came unglued. Tonight he was excellent! It took him a while to understand what I was doing with the ropes and why I was walking behind him, but he caught on pretty quickly.

He turned very good to the left, but fought the pressure to the right. And, instead of just ignoring the pressure, he would brace, put his head down low and push through the rein. I had to literally dig my heels into the ground a few times in order to not let him get his way. After a while, he got a bit better, but it was a constant struggle for him. Pretty impressive for his first time!

Image

Image

We'd already been working for quite some time and both of us were exhausted, though mostly from the cold and nerves. I was going to call it a night, but decided to see what he would do if I played around with the saddle. I tugged and pushed on it, jumped up and down, jerked on the stirrups. He was tense, but ok.

So, I stuck a foot in the stirrup.... he was worried, but again, ok. Until my toe poked his side. He lurched sideways, then stopped and faced me, licking and chewing. We did this over and over and over again, while I deliberately poked him in the side with my toe. He got over it fairly quickly.

The next step? Putting some weight into the stirrup. His first reaction was much the same as it was when I first bumped him with my toe. He lurched away, stopped and faced me, then worked his mouth. I approached and we did it a few more times until I was successfully able to put all of my weight into the stirrup and stay there for a few seconds.

While I didn't lean over the saddle, and didn't stand up above him, this was such a monumental moment for the both of us, I was in tears when I stepped down. Ace is not a typical horse and I fully believe that no trainer could start him. He does what he does for me only because he is learning to trust me and overcome his fears. If he ever does decide to let me ride him, it will be his decision. Not because I trained him. Maybe sappy, but kind of like the movie "Spirit". He's a wild stallion, still, and won't be a horse just anyone can ride, if anyone.

I can't wait to work with him again!
Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
User avatar
Juliane
 
Posts: 1521
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:50 pm
Location: Carnation, WA

Postby cat_67 on Tue Nov 14, 2006 11:25 pm

I agree with you, but I do think that he is going to let you ride him. I don't think he's that innately spooky or anything - Mi Amigo has way more trouble dealing with sudden movements, etc. from what I saw - but he clearly has a ton of emotional baggage. I bet the breastcollar did remind him of a bucking strap.

Still, look at Foxy and how she has come along, and she had the same OMIGOD WHAT IS THAT LET'S PANIC reaction to everything new that Janelle introduced her to. She just kept going with her and never letting Foxy's drama become her drama...and now Foxy is riding like an old pro. But it's the same sort of thing - Foxy trusts her. She probably wouldn't let anybody else ride her, and Ace will probably be a one person horse as well. Fortunately, you couldn't ask for a flashier drill mount, so he should be the perfect one for you to keep forever! :)
User avatar
cat_67
 
Posts: 701
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:08 pm

Postby lbanimals on Wed Nov 15, 2006 10:33 am

Foxy's mother here :P

There are a lot of similarities between my Foxy and your Ace (and Patience)...although Foxy is not quite as bad as Ace is/was. But she was very scared of humans in the beginning and had a lot of emotional baggage to work through. It took 6 months of every single day working with her to get her to where we are now. A lot of that was because I have no idea what I'm doing as she is my first horse and I am very inexperienced. However, the slow as a snail pace seemed to really help with her....we moved along so slow step to step that she was SO COMPLETELY OVER being scared about something by the time we went to the next step.

Reading through what you've done with Ace I am pretty amazed by how far he has come. I remember when you first got him I was thinking that he might just be a pretty pasture potato forever.

However, I am going to play the devil's advocate with what I say next. I am a total wimp and am always afraid of making Foxy go backwards in training with a blowup or some reaction or behavior that I don't know how to deal with. So we never went to the next step until she was falling asleep with the prior step. I would never have considered even sticking my foot in the stirrup until she was snoozing being saddled up and ignoring me flapping the stirrups around. It's like one step leads to the next and if he can't get through the saddling up process.....then adding the scary person acting like they are going to get on is only going to make it worse. She got saddled up, lunged, handwalked, unsaddled and that was it for the saddle training....every day for a couple weeks before I even tried to get on her. By the time I did end up swinging up there she was so totally bored with the idea of the saddle that she just stood there.

I just think that if he can't handle being saddled without blowing up (even just a little blowup) there is no way he will be able to handle you getting on him.....so although maybe it is moving along way slower than you are used to, maybe because he has such huge emotional baggage issues, you might want to just go really really slow. If you saddled him up every day for a week and took him to the roundpen and worked him and walked him a little and then put him back......I think that after a week the saddle probably wouldn't be so scary. I know it might be frustrating to go so slow with him, but maybe that is just what he needs? If the saddle hasn't killed him by the 3rd or 4th day he has got to start calming down about it, right?

I also think he'll let you ride him eventually, but I don't think he is anywhere near ready for that. Of course, I've never met him and only know what I see/read online. But I know you said that with Patience you had accidently skipped a bunch of groundwork type stuff (ground driving, etc) and that might be why you were having problems getting through things with her. I think it may be the same thing with Ace. You said in this post that he was nervous from the very getgo because when you went to get him it was different from the norm. Because it sounds like Ace is depending on his routine as much as he is depending on you. If you change it all up but stay consistant in handling him, then he can just learn to depend and trust YOU instead of the comfort of the routine.

Back on May 25th, you posted this:

Ace immediately came over to me, but was VERY jumpy and snorty. Guess that's what happens when I don't work with him for 3+ days.

Anyhow, each time I'd play with the halter, he'd jump out of his skin and trot away. Poor guy! I set the halter down and concentrated on Ace's comfort level instead of my goals.


And I think that kind of parallels what happened this last time. Even though he made major progress and reached your goals, he wasn't comfortable.....so rather than trying to get him "under saddle"...maybe concentrate on getting him comfortable with being saddled up. And then comfortable being bridled. And then comfortable having stirrups flapped, etc.

Having said all that, I do want to say again that I am amazed by how far you have gotten with him. I went back today and read through some of the early posts where you were sitting in his pasture and playing the "ignore him" game. And that is kind of maybe what he needs to get back to. Saddle him up and work him and then just piddle around for an hour doing other stuff or walking him around or hanging out with him so it isn't such a big deal. :D

I just reread your last paragraph about being sappy and that is exactly how it was with me and Foxy. I didn't want to "get her broke"...I wanted to get her gentled and willing to be ridden. The trainers who had worked with her initially had tried to ride her and had not been able to stay on her. When I had asked them when they were going to try again...they pretty much gave me this funny look and said "she doesn't want to be ridden". Well we proved them wrong, didn't we. I'm not riding her because I got her "broke"...I am riding her because she trusts me and lets me ride her.

I think you and Ace will be the same way eventually. Don't get frustrated if it takes a long while. Think how long it took for Ace to get to this point in his life....and how long it has taken for you to get past a good chunk of his fears. It'll all fall into place eventually.

Sorry to have written such a book here but I just had so much to say :oops: I just thought maybe an outside view might be helpful? Don't get me wrong I think you are doing a GREAT job with him and I don't want you to take anything I said the wrong way....I just wanted to point things out that you might not notice because you are there in the thick of it every day.

:D
User avatar
lbanimals
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 8:06 pm

Postby Juliane on Thu Nov 16, 2006 10:29 am

Thank you SO much for the post, Janelle! I absolutely, completely agree with everything you wrote. From day 1, I have had to do my best to control my desires to rush and get him 'trained' right away, and to step back, look at his point of view, and then slow waaaay down again. I think I even said when I first got him that I would have him ready to start attending drill practices come August or September... LOL Riiiiight!

My biggest obstacle at this point is time. I have quite a few horses in training that need to get to a certain point in their life in order to be marketable for their forever home - that I only end up getting to work with Ace perhaps once or twice a month lately :( There is no way I could work with him everyday. Between feeding, caring for and cleaning stalls for 9 horses daily, taking care of my daughter, working a full time job (well, I get to work from home alot, so that doesn't really count) and then there's unpacking and setting into my new house...

It makes me wonder what kind of compromise I could make. Instead of these 'every once in a while' sessions with Ace, where I cram a whole bunch of things into each session, how can I do more 'short and sweet' sessions? Maybe I should try that next week - spending a half hour with him or so, saddling and taking him for a walk. Every day, but just a half hour, so that I can get back to the other things that need to be done each day.

He's also never just 'fallen asleep' at anything I've done with him. Even haltering, or leading. He's always 'waiting for the axe to fall'. So, I've gotten myself to the point that I ignore his fears and go on with what I'm trying to get him to do. If I respond to his fears, he gets worse - more fearful, more jumpy, more explosive. I can't help but wonder how much of that is habit, with all he's been through, and how much is really fear.

I don't think he's really scared of me anymore - I think he trusts me more than any human before. However, I think everything I do with him, from leading him to haltering him, to saddling him, to round penning him, is a new experience. He doesn't know what to expect, so it's scary. And while I can see him trying to control his explosions, sometimes he loses it. But he's also very responsive to positive reinforcement and quiet, gentle handling.

If I see his body getting tense, his eyes showing whites, and his nostrils flaring, I stop and reassure him. Pretty much the only time he's completely relaxed is when I am practically cradling his head in my arms, stroking his forehead or cheek, telling him it's going to be ok.

While Ace is not my first horse, he's required me to learn alot in order to work with him and get the results I want. I think I am pushing him too fast, doing too much in each session. I think the 'session every day' idea is a good one and I will see if it's something that I can incorporate, at least temporarily. It would be nice to see what his responses and reactions were like after a week of doing the same thing, over and over again.

Thanks for giving me an outisder's viewpoint, Janelle :) I have followed Foxy's story for a long time and am so proud of where you two have gotten in your training! Good job!!!
Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
User avatar
Juliane
 
Posts: 1521
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:50 pm
Location: Carnation, WA

Postby AgilityGal on Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:35 pm

I think you're doing a great job! Remember, he was a good bucking horse turned out to pasture as a breeder to raise more bucking stock. So, to be able to trust anyone at this point in his life is almost beyond belief. He's most likely had nothing but bucking stock handling. . .and, a toe in the stirrup means it's soon time to buck. Spurs, shouts, bucking strap, crowds, ropes, electric prods, transports, etc., made up his world.

I would guess that he will turn out to be an especially good trail horse, not a drill horse in an arena full of people, noise, and other horses running around. That would be too reminiscent of his rodeo days.

I, too, think that doing something with him every day is a good idea. However, like you said, you have others that need your attention so they can find good homes. In the future, considering your other responsiblities and present facilities, you need to reduce the number of horses in training so you don't burn yourself out. You are far too valuable to so many people and horses to have that happen!
AgilityGal
 
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:25 am

Postby LorsaDoon on Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:07 pm

Juliane, does Ace have a number tatooed across the top of his butt?
If he does not, he probably was not actually used as a bucker. This number is used for the cowboys to identify them when they are getting on them in the chutes.
Teddie has a 322 across her back/butt.
I KNOW THERE IS MONEY IN HORSES......I PUT IT THERE!
User avatar
LorsaDoon
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 8:02 pm
Location: Oregon City, Oregon

Postby Juliane on Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:11 pm

Hey Laurie,

Yes, Ace does have a number across his butt. And, he was the feedlot owner's personal bucking horse. The feedlot owner owned him for most of Ace's life and bucked him up until a couple of years ago when he got injured (in talking to a chiropractor, it appears he broke his pelvis). During this time, Ace was turned out to pasture breed. After a couple years of 'healing', Ace was taken back to the rodeos and that is when the feedlot owner found out that Ace couldn't buck the way he once did. So, he decided to send him to slaughter. I've talked to the feedlot owner personally quite a bit about Ace. :(

I agree that I need to scale back some and figure out how to not burn myself out. It's a passion I have, and I can't imagine not being out working with the horses each night, but I can see that each horse is not getting the appropriate amount of attention.
Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
User avatar
Juliane
 
Posts: 1521
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:50 pm
Location: Carnation, WA

Postby ponygril68 on Fri Nov 17, 2006 9:04 am

JUST A SUGGESTION BUT MAYBE WORK REALLY HARD WITH THE HORSES YOU NEED TO REHOME SO YOU CAN FIND THEM HOMES ASAP. THEN JUST DO NOT TAKE ON ANY MORE HORSES UNTIL ALL OF THOSE ARE GONE. THIS SHOULD GIVE YOU THE TIME YOU NEED WITH YOUR OWN HORSES. TWO OR THREE HORSES IN TRAINING SHOULD BE PLENTY FOR A SINGLE TRAINER AT ANY ONE TIME. ESPECIALLY SINCE IT IS NOT A FULL TIME THING......MEL
ponygril68
 
Posts: 83
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:33 am

Postby ptownevt on Sun Nov 19, 2006 5:02 am

Juliane,
You wouldn't even have to do half an hour with him daily. 15 or 20 minutes every day would be fine.
Pam
No act of compassion is ever wasted, no matter how small.
ptownevt
 
Posts: 308
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:22 am
Location: Vermont

Postby cat_67 on Sun Nov 19, 2006 9:28 pm

Yeah, I think most greenies have the attention span of a gnat anyway...LOL. So you can get plenty accomplished in 15 minutes and hopefully they don't forget it in the next 24 hours! :)
User avatar
cat_67
 
Posts: 701
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:08 pm

Postby Juliane on Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:44 pm

Well, I pulled Ace out tonight in an effort to spend a quick "15 minutes" with him. For some reason, he was much worse than the last time I worked with him :( He was spooky, snorty and mostly just terrified. I couldn't understand it. Our last session was great, ended on a perfect note - so why was he so worked up today?

He had been in his stall all day, which is unusual, so maybe that had something to do with it? In any case, I was able to get the saddle on very, very loose and then take him to the round pen. Once there, I tried tightening it up. He was having none of that. He acted much like he did the first time I tried to saddle him.

After working with him for 15 minutes or so, I realized it was just getting worse. So, I took the saddle off and turned him loose in the round pen. I got to work raking up some decomposing leaves in order to maintain the sand footing integrity. It was also my way of 'ignoring Ace'. He mostly just stood there, looking over his shoulder at me, but not in curiousity - but fear :( Poor guy!

I went up to him multiple times to give him loves, and an hour later, brought him in. I turned him out in the paddock with the other horses and did my chores. A few hours later when I brought him in to his stall, he was again jumpy and snorty. He acted like he did with the saddle when I went to put his blanket on. Goodness!

So, yes, daily interaction! I need to figure out how to make that work! And wow :( Why was he so bad today? I guess it's good to have ups and downs, right? To measure our success? But this is the worst day I've had with Ace in a long time :( I felt like a failure.
Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
User avatar
Juliane
 
Posts: 1521
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2006 11:50 pm
Location: Carnation, WA

you are not a failure!

Postby myhorsefaith on Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:05 pm

Juliane!!!!!! you are not a failure. not even close.

Ace was just having a rough day- who knows what the reason was. the most important thing is that you responded appropriately keeping his dignity and respect...and also keeping you both safe! You did not use force to get him to follow an agenda.

Its so hard to see this type of thing happen- but just know that you are doing right by him. He's going to go through these periods where he seems to "revert"...it is your job to respond appropriately.

Cassie does the same thing to me, and yes, i know how you feel. It is very hard. But, the more you prove to the horse that you can be trusted during times of great uncertainty, like today, then the better off you are.

cumulatively speaking, you'll be able to look back and see how your actions today helped him along his journey.

I'm probably making no sense at all. sorry :shock:

It'll be ok!

-Ally
User avatar
myhorsefaith
 
Posts: 371
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:28 am
Location: Renton, Wa

Postby LorsaDoon on Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:11 pm

Sometimes horses are afraid of things we can not see, there are times when I go to the barn and everyone is in a "mood". I do not know why, I only know that they are. Is it something in the air we can not see? Something they can sense? :?

Were the other horses off tonight too? If they were, maybe it was their sixth sense tht was kicking in.

I am sure that Ace will be fine. You did the right thing for now by not trying to press him when he was not going to be receptive to you. There is no sense for you both to end up frustrated.
I KNOW THERE IS MONEY IN HORSES......I PUT IT THERE!
User avatar
LorsaDoon
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 8:02 pm
Location: Oregon City, Oregon

Postby barrelgurl on Thu Nov 23, 2006 12:21 pm

Everyone has their days! Its not your fault!

Lady has these days all the time. One day she will stand there, get saddled, blah blah blah.

Other days it takes me an hour to catch her (fortuantly that one hasnt happened lately!)

So dont worry about it, you have come so far with Ace!!!
barrelgurl
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:01 pm
Location: Washington

Postby cat_67 on Thu Nov 23, 2006 12:49 pm

We are all working with unknown history with these rescue horses. My first horse was afraid of baseball caps. Sunline is terrified of having the stall cleaned while she's in it - she thinks she is going to get whacked. Training these guys is a constant discovery process to see what gives them flashbacks to abuse in their past. And like barrelgurl said, sometimes it's just not their day. I have days where I just have a "bad feeling" or think something is going to happen and I'm on edge for no apparent reason, so it stands to reason it happens with horses.

There is no way on earth to make one of these traumatized guys feel secure 100% of the time in less than a year. Seriously. Not if you were the most magical trainer on earth. It's just going to take him a lot of time before he starts to truly believe that he's safe. You're doing everything that you can for him, and I can't think of a better person for him to be with.
User avatar
cat_67
 
Posts: 701
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:08 pm


Return to Ace

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron