I pulled into the farm today and as much as LTN and I like to work outside, I decided we'd stay indoors with how the day was heating up. The windows were open, the doors were open and a nice cross breeze was blowing through, so it was pretty much as perfect as we could ask for.
Since moving to the new farm, the big guy has taken some big strides forward with his training and I'm quite happy with how he's doing and more importantly, I'm extremely happy with how our relationship has/is developing. He's been a part of the family for almost 10 months now and while there has been some back and forth about who the 'boss' is some days, I truly do feel that we are falling in stride with each other.
Some people know his story and some don't, so let me share.
This guy came into my life through two wonderful women who we're still with today (hence our move to this farm, as they were moving there as the new farm managers). He's 11 years old and is GREEEEN! Up to last summer, he essentially lived his life in a pasture with a mare and their daughter (he was a late geld at age 6). From what I understood, he had very little to no work done with him (up until last August) and he would need to be started from the ground up.
I know our progress may seem slow to some people and that's just fine with me. I'm in no rush and wanted to really establish a trusting and collaborative relationship with him first and foremost. We will never be jumping fences at The Royal (or any competition for that fact) or running barrels at a rodeo. He's my return to the equine world and to be able to take him out on the trails or ride him around the ring through walk/trot/canter is enough. I'd rather take our time and do things properly so both he and I enjoy it and can learn from each other along the way, vs me solely dictating to him.
He's had someone on his back mayyyybe 15 times now and today was my longest session on him (about 15 minutes). We made it around the arena 3 times!! This is HUGE for a guy, who not matter what cueing you use, pretty much stands still as soon as someone gets on his back (he is absolutely more whoa than go). With A LOT of encouragement and me leaving him to his own timing at times, we did made it around and the smile on my face couldn't have been bigger! He moves forward perfectly on the lunge line and we're working on transitioning to that to the saddle. As you can see in the photo below, I'm currently using a halter and lead rope to guide him when I'm on his back. I have very mixed feelings about introducing a bridle/bit at 11 years old, but it is inevitable if we're wanting to head out on the trails (at least until he is much more seasoned and then I may move to a witless bridle).
Such a great view... #throughtheears..
I will also admit, somedays, I've been nervous to get back into the saddle too. I'm no longer a 17 year old with no fear (and a hockey helmet on my head, that would then climb on a wayyy too energetic 3 year old filly and hold on for dear life) and this 38 year old mind and body is all too conscious of the potential of being sent flying through the air to the dirt. I'm very aware that falling off is part and parcel of riding and I continue to wrap my head around that. I am absolutely amazed how well he is doing with so few rides 'under his belt' and once I'm on, I feel much better about things.
He is one incredible creature and has a 'once in a lifetime' personality and way about him. He's so smart and with that, comes his stubbornness (kinda like his Mom and his other furry brother Charlie). He's playful, caring (he'll literally lick/'kiss' you to death), full of life yet calm (most days) and there's this look he gets in his eyes that brings a huge smile to my face, no matter what.
I truly feel that finding him was meant to be and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us!