I have systematically worked all 8 head of horses into a fairly regular routine.
Frosty and Moon have to be ridden every day. Frosty is back on the barrel pattern and while I don't want to jinx myself...By jove...I think he's getting it. :-)
The TB gets rode 2-3 days in a row, lightly and then if I have to miss him a day...it's fine. Buddy is a little strange. In that, I know this horse had to have been ridden fairly regularly for at least a few years after he came off the track. He's plumb solid under saddle...in that there is no buck or runaway in him no matter how long it is between rides. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what they did with him. He really don't know anything. He doesn't move like he was ridden english and he was certainly not a rail horse for western classes (leeetttllll on the hot side), but he doesn't know any speed event patterns either. I'm pretty sure all he's ever had is arena riding too. In the arena area he walks along nicely. Out in the open...He's a mess. Can't walk, stops, stares, whinnies and acts completely lost and confused. In a way, that little prance he has is kinda cool...It's like you are heading for the starting gate...But then again...A horse NEEDS to know how to walk. So that is the majority of what we are working on....and I started him on the barrel pattern. It's a good cool down exercise for him after we spend 30 minutes working on w.a.l.k....and only make it a few hundred yards down the road. LOL.
Shooter is being saddled again...not that you would know he hadn't had a saddle on him in 8 months. I swear, he was born 'broke'. He is very excited to be back to doing something. Anything! Even if it is only for 15-20 minutes a day. I'll start taking him on short walks (ponying him) this week. I can't work him much in the round pen because of his leg. Straight line work is better.
Beretta took to being saddled again extremely well...
Belle is working in the round pen nicely and we started the sacking out process. I'm in no rush with Belle. Just work her often enough to keep her moving forward.
Frenchy is proving to be a bit of a hag. LOL. She wants nothing to do with being sacked out or letting me handle her front feet. I'm cutting her some slack though. She's been a broodmare for 6 years. It might take her a little while to remember her former training...but it will come. Her mother was a snorty rip too, but it's all bravado. She is so much like her mother and grandmother it's eerie sometimes. I have accidentally called this mare Dandy a couple of times that is how similar she is to her mother.
And last, but not least...My other 'toughie'...
This is an entirely different type of connection than you might be thinking. I am not working to establish a bond with The Big Bay. I actively go to work on him, with my hands, working to mobilize his shoulders, soften in the neck, drop his head and flex (in, out, and side to side) in his poll. When this horse checks out, his eyes glaze over and he gets extremely stiff from the wither forward. That is when the blow-ups happen. We don't do anything else until the glazed look is gone and I can tell he is 'seeing' me again....and then he is fine.
I still think there is something wrong in this horse's poll, but I'm not entirely sure it's a structural problem (atlas and axis). I am leaning toward habitual tightness has created a musculature problem and that coupled with the way the trainer that started him pulled his horses noses around has taught this horse to simply rotate his nose when you ask him to give side to side and he panics.
For example...see in the picture how his head is turned toward me...and the head is horizontal to the ground? When you ask a horse to bend this is the way you want to the head to come. This type of flex stretches the entire neck and as the horse gets more flexible, will lead to them stretching through the whole body.
Unfortunately, the trainer that started this horse was one of those people who just pulled the nose around, much like Clinton Anderson does...
If you want to feel what it feels like to your horse...Sit in a chair, face forward, shoulders square, chin and eyes up. Now, without dropping your chin or your eyes, turn your head and look over your shoulder. Feel the stretch through the entire opposite side of your body?
Now, to feel what CA's 'stretch' feels like, face forward again and tip just your chin toward your shoulder. Feel the difference? You are actually just straining your neck, not stretching through the body.
It's my personal preference to have a horse that learns to stretch through his whole body, not to just take the nose away. Taking The Big Bay's nose away just makes him panic, so we are working to establish a true stretch, which helps calm him, releases tension and helps him check back in. It's coming. It's literally one step at a time...but it is coming. :-)