Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Turning My Thoughts to Tweed

My work with Tweed has been spotty these last couple of months: heat, smoke, and Epona kept me from being regular, and because of that, each time I went out, I saw a deeper and deeper deficit from where we needed to be and where we were.

I have his heart, but that's partially because the way to your gelding's heart is through his stomach. When I go out to get him in the evenings, I only need call his name, and he comes running. If I go out during the day, with no intention to feed, he comes to me and gives me his undivided attention, too.  He associates me with good things, and offers zero resistance in our everyday interactions.

Scratch the surface, however, and resistance pops its ugly head right up. I have seen it when he has bucked on the line when asked to change leads, pulled back on the line, trying to get away, and bit at me, once, when I bent his head. (That last one did not go well for him!) As for the silliness on the line, I usually get through it, and then ask him to complete the task originally requested without much drama. When I ask him to stand at the mounting block, he will shuffle just a little bit away from the sweet spot, and act like he doesn't know what I'm asking. When dismounting the bridge, he will sometimes walk right off, rather than one foot at a time, as asked. In those cases, we circle back around and do it all over again, and again, and again.

These are all obvious forms of resistance, and negate the subtler question--Do I have his attention? (Before I get on.) It's clear, we have to start back at square one.

I'm back to working with him most everyday, but all those things have to be addressed, and they are combinations of issues:

1. He sees me as a herd mate.

2. He wants to get back with the herd.

3. He has physical discomfort which I have been searching out through the Masterson Method work. I hadn't done much of it with him, but I can see he really needs it. His evasion is moving, pawing, chewing the rope, and threatening to bite. Through this work he will learn that he can trust me with his ouchy spots, and release them. He's so sensitive that I've had to move back to "air gap" pressure. (I'll post specifically on this topic soon, because I will have to learn a way through his evasions that also supports the work--while enforcing my personal boundaries. That's not as easy as it might sound.)

He sees me as  herd mate. This is a boundaries issues, and has probably become worse because of our freetime, at liberty, in the pasture. Everything is on his terms (or, at least he thinks it is) when I go out to visit him during the day. He's also three, and still has that baby personality. He taunts the other horses all day long in the pasture. They all love him, and put up with a lot, but eventually they will discipline him and send him off. He is bringing that same attitude, pushing the boundaries, into the arena. This is going to work itself out quickly by working with him on regular schedule. It doesn't concern me. #2 wanting to be back with the herd, will also work itself with a regular schedule.

My emotional energy has been concentrated with laser focus on Epona's survival. That did not leave me much for my work with Tweed. Yet, even in that distracted state, I was formulating a general concern about a lack of partnership or, more accurately, togetherness. The thought started to seep in more and more as I thought back about our work since he's been home. You get a horse back from the trainer, but you're not the trainer. You do things differently than the trainer. And your relationship with your horse is completely separate, too. I had made a mistake in the earliest days after bringing him home of trying to start where she left off, rather than taking a few steps back and reestablishing our own mojo.

I was thinking about that today--what is the value of sending them off to training if you have to start from square one? The value that I can see is exposure. He has been exposed to many different things, and that created a foundation. However, that's all it is: a foundation from which to build our own partnership. Unfortunately, no one can do that part for you, and there are no shortcuts.

The weather has returned to normal here in Spokane, which is to say, perfect 70 degree days. It's gorgeous. Being in the barn, which is where I practically live, is now pure bliss. Less heat. Less flies. It's a good time to start back up. 

Mr Tumbleweed and I have a lot to do.


8 comments:

  1. The weather has been great! We had enough rains to knock out the fires and the smoky air.
    The summer hiatus is over.... time to get back to work!
    I'm sure you'll find your groove soon; a lot of what you described is normal behavior for a 3 yr old who has had a lot of time off. They will test you!

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    1. This weather is dreamy. I think we made it through the worst!! Yay, us!! Yes, so much of what he does is typical young stuff. He did some of it with Sarah, too, and she told me she wasn’t concerned, all the young ones will buck around a bit when they’ve had even one day off. I haven’t been asking him for anything over a walk this week because I’m trying to keep him in non-reactionary state of mind. He thinks I want a trot or lope, but I bring him back down to the walk, and he seems surprised and a little relieved. The MM work does the same thing. I’m trying to get past the herd behavior and into the relaxed, relationship stuff. When we get that down solid, we’ll move on to more. 😀

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  2. He's still a young horse and testing you. I'm sure that your plan for getting him back to listening to you will work. The more you work on a solid foundation, no matter how long it takes, will pay off in the end. And hey, you have plenty of time so no rush to get it all done. Have fun and enjoy working with your boy.

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    1. That’s the truth. We have lots of time. I don’t have a many expectations for these youngster years, except to build trust and partnership. That’s the fun part anyway. 😀

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  3. Ah young horses. It's like having teenagers again. Except that they don't ask to borrow the car. You mentioned some discomfort- the bucking might be him trying to release some tension. I am sure that it will be re-established.

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    1. Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes, it makes sense. Young bodies are growing so fast, and it probably does create a lot of tension.

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  4. The good news about re-starting is training & bonding comes back easier, and sometimes deeper. I frequently find myself taking steps back, in order to take steps forward. So glad you are enjoying such great weather!!

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    1. That’s a good point. We had a wonderful day yesterday, before taking Epona to the vet. He’s so funny. I had asked him for everything at a walk, and he was so sure I wanted a trot and lope, but finally, yesterday, it had sunk in, and he was like, look at me walk, just like you want. He was so glued into the new ask, I had a hard time convincing him we were now ready for the trot. Lol. I like it! He also seemed to finally understand the MM work, and wasn’t pawing and chewing. He was super tight in the poll when we started, but all the work and bending seems to have helped loosen him up quite a bit, so he isn’t bracing.

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