I thought I had messed up...
I have been riding Little John, and while he isn't horrible to deal with, he's one hot, little potato...
I've had him for a year now and to be totally honest...I haven't done a whole lot with him. Hauled him along to a few events, rode him in the desert a little, turned him out and let him learn how to be a 'ranch horse'. Basically, I have just been biding my time, waiting for him to get old enough to do what I want to do with him...
I'm old-school...I don't really care to start running a horse before they are coming into their 5y/o year. I'm not alone in my opinion on that subject, but I don't begrudge the people who start competing (a little) on their 4y/o's. One time, I did compete lightly on a 4y/o and she was pretty cool. I wasn't pushing her, she just started running well pretty much of her own accord. It was easy for her, so I just let her do her thing. However, I cannot stop myself from making 'the face' when I hear someone is competing on a 3y/o. No, No, No!!! Patterning? Sure, why not. Loping through? Okay, a little here and there isn't going to hurt them. Competing on and asking them to r.u.n.?...Not gonna happen at my house or with one of my horses. Not EVER!!
In Little John's case, I had specific reasons for not doing much with him his 4y/o year. He had absolutely no exposure to the outside world prior to me purchasing him, so everything was awfully overwhelming to him. But the biggest reason was, I thought his knees needed the time to solidify. They just looked and felt soft and undeveloped to me, so I figured just turning him out and letting him finish maturing was the best thing for him.
I like the results. LJ's knees are certainly less puffy looking and feeling now, and being turned out the whole summer has significantly changed the way he travels. That jarring little trot he had is gone and he has certainly learned how to stretch out and run.
What hasn't gone away is his buddy issues. Usually, when a horse learns to live in a herd, they become less inclined to glom onto a buddy. But not LJ. Just the placing of him in a separate pen from his bestest buddy, Shooter led him to carry on...for days! Shooter was in the pen right next to him!! (rolls eyes in disgust!). Now Shooter was ever patient with LJ though this last year. I never saw Shooter get irritated or try to force LJ out of his space...although the little red horse appeared to be velcroed to Shooter's side 99% of the time. But after I separated them, Shooter must have decided that he was, in fact, tired of having a little red horse velcroed to him, because the next time I turned them out together, LJ tried to resume his position and Shooter drove him off. And that is what Shooter has done to LJ every since. It's like Shooter decided that it is time for Little John to grow up and stand on his own. Since Shooter is not overly ugly about forcing LJ out of his space, I have pretty much left them to work it out.
The one thing LJ is still bad about that is driving ME nuts is, how radical he gets when left tied to the trailer by himself. He paws, he paces, and he bellows! Not just whinnies...B.e.l.l.o.w.s!!!
He ended up having a very long weekend in Utah, because I decided, he was going to have to learn a little patience. He spent the majority of both days, saddled and tied to the trailer. He got rode hard on Friday and rode twice on both Saturday and Sunday and wearing him down didn't seem to help get him to stand quietly.
Normally, when a horse is that fractious at a public venue, it has to do with all of the activity going on around them and I'll take them around and do whatever groundwork is necessary to get their attention and get them over worrying about what is going on. In LJ's case, the instant I'd take him out and about, he'd get quiet as a mouse and was completely mannerly. It's just the being left alone thing he hates and he shows no signs of weakening in that department.
When I got home to Colorado, I figured I had better go talk with his previous owner and see if he had some insight to what this was all about...and maybe some suggestions about how to get LJ over this.
Weeelllll....apparently...This is characteristic behavior for the 'Red Ant Rey' horses. I dunno if that means all for the Red Ant Rey's or just the foals this particular Red Ant Rey mare produces. The trainer's groom said that all of them that she handled spent a significant amount of time at the 'patience post' the first year or two they were in training. She said they were all busy-minded, busy-footed horses that h.a.t.e.d. to have to stand still...But the good news is...Eventually they do grow out of it.
Good enough!! That is all I really needed to know...and I'm pretty grateful that I can go to the breeder and find out certain characteristics that LJ is going to be prone to have. I knew that Starlight Starbright horses have a reputation as level-headed, good-to-get-along-with personalities. You can razz them up...and they WILL light up...but when the pressure is off, they revert right back to easy-going. I can see that in LJ. The slightly radical side of him is apparently his momma's doing. LOL.
Learning a little more about the natural tendencies that were bred into LJ, is going to help me with getting him moving along on the barrel pattern too. I've been doing my usual, slow, steady patterning with him and to be quite frank...LJ has little interest. More than 1/2 the time, he is so interested in what ever else is going on that he doesn't even realize there is a barrel there...or that he is actually working a pattern.
That is about to change. We are going to speed things up on the barrel pattern. Apparently, LJ needs a little speed to hold his attention. I'm also going to set my poles up and start working him on those. Something with a little more intricacy will also help hold his attention. As little and as athletic as LJ is, he aught to be a fantastic little pole horse.
Of course, when we get back to Arizona, LJ will get put on cattle as well. There is a new arena that just went up a few miles down the road from the AZ house and they moved the team sorting they used to have on our street down to the new one. I think it will be a lot better for my horses at the new place. The place they used to have the sorting at was tiny and it didn't give a horse much of an opportunity to work a cow. The new arena is huge and I am going to see if I can pay to work horses on individual cattle. Getting the opportunity to actually run some cattle up and down a long fence would be tremendously beneficial to both Frosty and LJ (and eventually Shooter and Jet). There is absolutely nothing that compares to that kind of work to teach horses how to run, rate and turn. All of that is easy, peasy for LJ already, but working a cow will definitely hold his interest. In Frosty's case, having to r.u.n. to a cow and turn it should help free him up. He'll forget he doesn't particularly like to run when there is actually something to chase. :-)