I often write about getting our horses to trust us, but what about the time and work it takes for us to trust them?
I don't have that pressing need to ride despite anything anymore. When I was young I did, and I didn't think to care about whether I got thrown or not. My bones and brains were made of jello. As I got older, I started to care, but I felt invincible. I had some close calls, but always ended up pulling out safe (I think in other, alternate universes, I did actually die). In my 30's I came down with melanoma and realized I'd rather die on horseback than of cancer; at that point, you couldn't pry me out of a saddle.
But my cancer did not return and, slowly, more and more self-preservation set in.
Today, in the here and now, I have a new motto:
I want the horse I'm riding to be a horse worth falling for.
Basically, if I'm going to get something broken, it better be worth it.
This year I have to have a trail horse, so I'm going to finish off two and ride the one that does best. I'm sending Cia to my trainer for a month. There, she'll be ridden on a ranch, up and down hills, after cows; she'll be ponied, she'll pony other horses, and she'll get a work ethic.
While she's gone, I'll devote all my time to Beautiful and tackling her issues: basically moving away from the herd, being ridden in the arena and out, and tying. Depending on how she does this spring and summer, I'll decide how much trail time, if any, she'll get. Ultimately, if I'm not ready to trust her, I'll give her more time to mature.
Cia is at a mature age and more than ready for the trail if she can stay sound. If she comes back from her training without lameness, she'll certainly be able to withstand my rides. I'm going to have her hot shod by my farrier who has been working with her for the last four years before I take her down.
Yesterday, during Beautiful's TTouch, she was pretty bad. Bad, as in, BAD. She was extremely agitated and herd-bound. She was also threatening Cowboy even though I was standing right there. She was a very different horse than usual. There's no sense in psychoanalyzing...it's the same answer, no matter what the reason, so we didn't get any TTouch done. We spent about thirty minutes or more on the basics. Half of her time was spent standing about three feet away from me on a loose lead. If she took one step forward toward me I backed her up to the point I had asked her to stand. I was really emphasizing Space, Manners, Independence from the herd, and Quietness. None of which she had at the beginning.
But like I've always said, every day is a new day for a horse, especially a young one. I won't hold it against her; I'll just work on the issues and make some changes. But I will say, for me to ride her full time out on the trail, she will have to earn my trust.
Today is my TTouch lesson, but I'll probably write about it Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to it. Wish me luck!