Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Arabians, the Quarter Horses, and the Journey Part 8

The story begins here

My first attempts to work with Koalt I was really nervous.

Firstly, I wanted to make sure that we had to find an English saddle that would fit his wide back, but steep withers. We found an English saddle that would do. This would be another challenge for me to learn how to balance in that small saddle. But I wanted to work him in equipment that he was familiar with.

I was scared of getting bitten when tacking him up and had never dealt with an aggressive angry horse before. One day in particular I was in a hurry to get on, and cinched him up two holes at a time and not my usual one hole increment. He spun his head around so fast and took a chunk out of my bare arm. I was stunned and in pain and didnt even think to repremand him.
I would tack him up and try to keep my emotions from being apparent to him. I approached everything with him in a slow and steady pace. Always moving forward when he was ready. I cinched up really slowly, praising any signs of accepting behavior. When riding, I creeped him just farther out of his 12x12 corner everyday. 

Within about three weeks after his arrival, I was finally able to ride him everywhere in his pasture. But it was a slow process to get there. As I would push him out of his comfort zone, he would do a 180 and take off back to the safety of his corner. No amount of turning or pulling could get him to stop his mad dash, and we would start back over at square one in the corner. But through slow repetition and patience, we finally were able to explore the whole pasture. It was a proud moment for my young self.

Eventually, Koalt was moved into a pasture with Fawn, Joker, and Snowy, and I was actually starting to become fond of him. I had been reading Monty Roberts' book, The Man Who Listens to Horses and became enthralled his his kind methods and experience in watching the wild horses. I learned about the horse's flight instict and the idea that the boss mare could send a colt out away from the herd until she invited him back with the showing of her long side.

I wanted this type of connection with Koalt. And one day I set out to make it happen. Ignorant and believing that all horses would have this high level of sensistivity like a wild one, I decided to practice a method with Koalt. I asked Koalt to come to me from the pasture from about fifteen feet away by clucking and a snap and wave with my inside arm. He stared at me, then disinterested, began to walk away. So I used the flight aspect to work to my advantage. I chased him all around the pasture, flinging my halter and lead rope at him to get him moving. If he would look over his shoulder at me or show any sign of an interest (esecially licking and chewing) I would stop and turn my shoulder to him. It didnt work the first about ten times. I chased him all around that pasture. Literally. He was at a canter or gallop and there I was always miles behind him, but chasing him no less.

The hardest part was that this new pasture he was in was about three times the size of the other one with a really steep hill to it as well. Not to mention there were three other horses that would get riled up at Koalt's running and join in. But I persisted and after about a half an hour or more of running and chasing and looking for a sign, he gave me that infamous lick and chew and I stopped dead in my tracks and offered him my shoulder (or what would be as a human, my long side). He dropped his head and walked towards me allowing me to put the halter on. It was a proud moment for me.

I continued this practice as necessary until he would see me at the gate and come up (usually at a snails pace, but sometimes at a trot) and meet me where I stood. It was cool to say the least.

Time passed by and I was growing more and more attached of the plucky little Quarter Horse. I was learning how to ride English and was even taking an interest in hunter jumping. I was meerily leasing the old boy when LF dropped another bombshell on me; the program was loosing money and needed to sell Koalt.

Part 9


Molly said...

aahh.. LF would!!

but.... then you buy him!! ;)

We have a lot in common!! I had a spunky little horse named Melody, you can find her post on my blog, that I had to use Monty Roberts way of thinking with. That little mare.... oooo I just would want to rip her hair out! haha
I chased that mare more than I rode her. It would take me 2 or 3 hours to catch her sometimes.. it was miserable. I would scream and stomp and throw my halter on the ground! As hard as I tried to get her to come to me... it seemed like it would never happen. One day I put her in our round pen and chased her and chased her until she started lowering her head and chewing... she finally got the hint!
After 5 years she turned into a great little pony!! ended up selling her to a 12 year old for her christmas present.

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm still not sure what I think of LF but it sounds like Koalt was a good challenge for you. I think those of us who really live horses are up that challenge and will do anything to get our fix, even if it means dealing with a difficult horse. Good for you taking that on. It must have done good things for your confidence too.