Bonding time...

This 8 year old, 15.3hh registered Appaloosa gelding is in rehabilitation as he gains weight lost due to EPSM. He will be started under saddle and available for adoption.

Bonding time...

Postby Juliane on Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:49 pm

I had a pretty busy day today (and it's not over yet!), so when I got home, I went out and got the stalls done. It was late, but I wanted to play with Shadow a little bit before putting him in.

Last night was pretty intense for Shadow - and while his drive to try is as much as Teddie's was, he also has an immediate 'shut off' switch when he's done. I didn't know his signs, and wasn't paying close enough attention - that last night I pushed him past his shut off switch.

He didn't do anything bad - but it was during my attempts at stepping into the stirrup. It was really hard for him to tolerate my attempts on his right side. Yet, for some reason, I had to prove a point and keep trying until he stood still.

This seemed to push him too far and pretty soon he just closed off his emotional wall and was no longer willing to try. It was a heartbreaking feeling. I felt like I had broken his spirit.

When I went out to bring him in from the paddock this evening, the look in his eyes was guarded. Not bad, but not his usual social, happy-go-lucky self.

So, I quickly re-thought my plan for the night. While I didn't want to saddle him and go through the same thing as the night before, I did want to push him further than the night before, perhaps even getting on him bareback. But when I saw that his emotional wall was up, I decided maybe it was time to reassure him that our time together could be enjoyable again. Silly, huh?

I grabbed a soft brush and we headed into the arena. As soon as we entered the arena, Shadow whinnied very loudly to the horses in the paddock. This annoys me to no end. I cannot stand a horse that is not focused on me when we are working together. I immediately and abruptly tossed the lead rope at him while flailing my hands and walking towards him, growling.

Wow, I think I scared the crud out of him, literally. He sat back on his haunches, eyes popping out of his head and backed up about 20 feet. As soon as he came to a stop, I quietly and calmly reassured him and praised him. He stood there, terrified of what I might do next, and whinnied again. I again came at him, but with much, much less energy. This time he just leaned back on his legs, then stopped. Again, lots of praise and quiet reassurance.

Then came his release, lowered head, licking and chewing. We took a few steps forward, stopped, lots of reassurance and praise. He didn't whinny again for the rest of the night and remained 100% focused on me. The funny thing about Shadow is that it doesn't take much to get his attention - but if you don't get his attention, you will have a spaz on your hands. He very much needs a leader and someone to look up to. I think he also has some very real fears due to being abandoned, twice. First, by his owner who passed away, and second, by the woman he was 'left to' in the will.

So, I spent the evening brushing him, walking with him, massaging and scratching his favorite spots. I talked to him, telling him he had nothing to worry about. We did some very short stints of ground driving, with me quite a bit back from his shoulder. This was hard for him yesterday, but he got it tonight. I also realized that he really needs more obvious praise from me, not just the quiet 'good boys' I was giving him yesterday. Instead, he really seems to shine with pride when I make a big deal out of a small accomplishment. Something for me to remember. :)

We spent about 45 minutes together, just hanging out, bonding. I think it was good for us and I look forward to pushing him again, now that our connection and trust is restored :)

Sorry, no pics. I was alone tonight :)
Feel the Spirit, Keep on Riding!
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