Monday, January 30, 2017

August 4th Until Now - the 6th Month Mark

And so, it's been a while. I haven't been able to find the time to get on here and get to writing. Things have been hectic, but grad school is over for good! To sum life up, I was traveling a lot for work. We got a new kitchen which took up a lot of time, and we hit Canada to ski this winter. Things are busy, but good.

Mr. Miserable  wet from the rain
On the Denali front, things are good! He's calm, he's collected, and he's getting better! He's more relaxed and comfortable in my ability knowing I am not going to hurt him. We haven't had many UP episodes, but we've been taking things easy and slow so I have not pushed too hard. Dom was extremely helpful in getting us there and letting me know what I can do to get him desensitized to the small stuff he was fretting! We've been working on getting comfortable with things moving quickly around his face especially and being able to rub his body with things that were once causing him to flinch. The last flinch was with my helmet bag. He didn't like the sound so we worked until he was OK with it and he let me touch his body with it. We'll get there with most things. I just need to be patient.
Hunter pace

Shortly after getting him, we trailered to a local show and schooled in the ring with another horse. He threw his temper tantrum near the gate and was a slick, wet, sweaty mess from being worked up, but we were still getting to know each other. We did a hunter pace and he was pretty good, but he was FORWARD. He just wanted to go, but we were pretty comfortable and even cantered a bit on an open road. It was comfortable, and he wasn't taking off. He was tossing his head a bunch, but he calmed down with work. I was still unsure of what to think of him or what the future might bring. He's wasn't always fun.

We also went on a trail ride where I took him on the trailer solo with a group of random people that I met on a local trail riding group. He was so calm and collected! We mostly walked, but the trot was good! He did get a little fussy and started to fling his head, but it wasn't like the hunter pace. We all took turns being in the front and the back of the group, and he was good with being anywhere. He wasn't as forward as he was at the hunter pace (at the same park and some of the same trails), and he even went in water a little bit following the other horses! It was a great day for a ride, and it got my spirits up about him.

Solo trail ride - Thanksgiving morning
We rode over to the barn next door with a group of boarders, and he drifted towards the gate a bit, but he listened. He is understanding his leads a bit better, and he is a lot less upset when I don't give him the right signals. He did so well that we continued to ride with the group over at the barn where he's boarded, but when he had enough, he started to have some fits again (yes, going UP!). It wasn't' too bad, and we rode until he was through it. After that, I decided maybe it was ring work. Before going out to the ring on other rides,we just hit the trails. After his rides, we've gone on trails, too. He's good by himself and he seems more excited to be in the woods. Again, I feel like we're getting there! :)

Group trail ride
All in all, he's proving that he can calm down and act up a lot less. He's not very spooky, and he tolerates my mixed signals at times. He's getting better with me in the round pen and more confident when I go see him. I'm making an effort to get to the barn when I don't even ride, but I'll just go out and brush him and bring him treats in the field or bring him in for treats and brushing and put him back out. He's more worked up when I first bring him in, but after a ride or some work in the round pen, he relaxes and enjoyed being brushed. He is letting me brush his face more and brings his head down so that I can bridle him and massage his temples (which he loves). For just 6 months time, he's come a long way and I know we have an exciting and fun adventure in store for us with more persistence.
His still sign - birthday gift from sisters

Riding in the open field