There are advantages to living in a small town. Nothing is ever a secret and eventually you hear about everything and sometimes more than you want to know.
Last week, when I was in Colorado, mom started coming to town to help Megan with her and Rip's barrel pattern. My mom and I may not always see eye to eye on the horses, but I trust my mother implicitely when it comes to training a barrel horse. She has been there, done that...and won a lot. I don't care what anyone says, types of horses may change, popular bloodlines may change, running styles may change, training techniques may change...but the very core of barrel racing is the same today as it was 40 years ago when my mom was winning. So I was very happy that she agreed to help Megan.
I've gone up a couple of times and listened and watched. Tonight, I took Turk(the paint gelding) and Roan Dog(the bronc) to town. Turk is NOT one of my favorite horses to ride in the pasture, but he is a doll in the arena. So I am prepping him for a show in 2 weeks. Mostly all he needs is some loping to get the weight off of him and a little work on his lope transitions. Roan Dog, I threw in because that horse just needs as much handling as possible.
Now, there is almost never a time that we go ride at the arena that at least a couple of people drive through to see who is there and what they are doing. Heck, I do the same thing myself if I see a horse trailer up there-LOL.
Tonight, a friend of my brother's drove through with his family. He waved and kept going. But about 15 minutes later, he was back and pulled in. I was done loping fat-ass Turk around and had decided to pony Roan Dog. The horse has a real fear of anything above him.
So here I am, dragging Roan Dog behind me, cussing because I think any horse that has been ridden much at all, should know how to pony. Turk of course, thinks that is his cue to start looking for boogy men in the bucking chutes. Megan is, of course, laughing her butt off at me on the paint horse who is crab-legging sideways while dragging a very worried Roan Dog behind me. I can see mom's lips tightening from across the arena. My mom is of a firm belief that horses are perfect all the time and if they are not doing something perfectly it must be my fault. See, I told you we don't always see eye to eye.;-)
Lord help me...I quite fighting it and decided to just see if I could rub on the Dog from Turk's back. No go! We went a thousand circles in both directions. I could rub his face and stroke his ears, but the second I touched his neck he's freaking out. The only good thing about it, is that I could ride right into him and make him move his front feet too. Keeping those front feet moving seems to be the key for keeping this horse thinking. As long as his front feet are moving, he may not like what you are doing, but he does not blow up. When those front feet get locked down, so does his brain. I finally made a little progress, so I quit.
Riding over to the fence by mom, my brother's friend(R) proceeded to "enlighten" me to the ways of the Roan Dog. Apparently, there has been a lot more done with this horse and too this horse by a lot more people than either my mom or I were aware of.
I don't even know where to start actually! And I am not sure what all to believe!
I guess R had Roan Dog for quite some time(although mom does not remember the horse being gone for very long) and according to him put a lot of time in on the horse. He moved cows, pasture roped cows and bulls on him, doctored calves and even roped on him in the arena. He said he was freaking awesome...and then something would drop the dime and RD would blow up and buck him off. And boy howdy, R said he can REALLY blow...As in...he thinks he is NFR quality. That wouldn't be in the barrel pen or the roping pen either.
DAMN!! You know, I had almost talked myself into actually climbing on this horse in the very near future. I figured that if I saddled him and ponied him until he was comfortable with me being above him and bumping him all over, that the next logical step would be to get Megan beside me, on a her bomb-proof Rip and step on. Weeellllll....I'm not so sure about that now.
I have to face reality...I've spent the better part of my life trying to convince horses NOT to buck. I'm not a bronc rider. I buck off pretty easily actually. Heck, I've found that riding that crap out is NOT always the thing to do. I'm not afraid to admit that on a normal horse, I can pretty quickly ascertain whether I can ride the buck out and stick with it or I bail. Much better that I pick the spot then get in trouble and end up a lawn dart. I'm also really out of practice of determining this point of no return. Not that I think RD would give me much of an opportunity to actually decide when to get off. He is a fully mature, 15.2H horse that probably weighs in around 1400-1500lbs. And it sounds like he has had A LOT of practice at bucking people off.
But I wonder, just how much of this guy's stories to believe. According to him, he spent good deal of time ponying RD...ummmm...I call BS! Once a horse learns how to pony...they don't forget. It's like leading. A horse that hasn't been led in a long time may be a little rusty, but they still know how to do it. The horse I was dragging around the arena tonight SURE didn't act like he had EVER been ponied before.
Also, he told me how he used to pick up RD's front foot and bend him around. ???? I'm not sure what that was all about. But I KNOW it took me 2 years of, admittedly sporactic, working with him to even get me to hold a front foot up...much less trim it...much less let me hold onto it out in the open while he did some sort of weird bending exercise.
And then he proceeded to tell me how RD was bad to kick. HUH? Do you all know, that in 3 years of being around this horse, I have NEVER seen him kick at another horse, much less me. He's a horse that will spin to face you, not one that will wheel and kick. ONE TIME, RD did kick though. It was the first time I actually got a saddle on him. I set the saddle on him, moved him around a few steps, moved to his off side and dropped the cinches and boy did he go to kicking at the back cinch dangling down there.
Wanna know what? There were two of my brother's other horses that he let this guy use that did the same thing when I first started riding them,!! Now you tell me, what the heck he did to all three of those horses to make them kick at the cinches when you drop them down?
So, once again, I am torn! There is something about this horse that touches me. I feel so sorry for him. He is a big, massive horse and he is about as timid as a mouse. I now KNOW there were some not-so-nice things that happened to him. It makes me even more determined to try to fix him...and even more aware that this is a horse that could put me in the hospital if I do not heed other's warnings.
But there may be a salvation for him yet! I am going to continue to work with him and make as much progress as I can building his confidence...and then mom is going to contact an old aquaintance whose son is reknowned for taking horse out of their bucking string and training them. RD needs someone who is comfortable with and knows how to handle a horse that will buck. We will let them ascertain whether he will ever make a DEPENDABLE saddle horse or if he truly wants to buck. Cause if he wants to buck for real...buck he will...right out of the chute. And by golly, I think he would make a beautiful saddle bronc.
Wonder if they would still let me show him in halter classes?