Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Great Times with Buckshot!

Last week I took Thursday off of work. I was feeling much better from the previous weekend “illness” caused by an antibiotic. So I wanted to go see Buckshot. The weather was nice and I was so very glad to see Buckshot. Just missing a weekend felt like I had missed a lot of time with him. I got to ride him and we started in the arena. After our warm up and some trotting, I decided to try and ride alone in the trail. Buckshot did great – it was nice and quiet in the woods and he seemed very comfortable, even though there weren’t any other horses with us. We went about halfway down the trail and then turned around. His energy picked up very slightly; I guess he was happy to be going home.

But I wanted to do some more work in the arena. So after we exited the woods, I headed him towards the arena and he walked in with purpose and a good stride. He walked straight into the center of the arena and promptly stopped. I’m pretty sure he was thinking, well, now, it’s time to dismount. But I spoke to him and said we’d do a few more minutes of work, at which he immediately moved forward, three steps and stopped again! I think he was thinking, yes, you’re right, that wasn’t a good place to dismount, but this spot here, is just fine to dismount! I broke out laughing at his willingness to help me find a spot to dismount! I couldn’t help it – he just seemed so earnest about it. I laughed and laughed, and decided to, well, dismount! And give my horse a big smile and hug, and a treat! Whether it is his sense of humor, or willingness to help, either way, what a special horse!

Saturday was a good day at the farm, although we had several strong rainstorms so our riding was cut short. And Sunday was a day of wicked heat and humidity, with a heat index of 106 muggy degrees, so I didn’t ride Buckshot. Instead I planned to do some work by walking around on the lead line. After bringing Buckshot to the barn to groom him, we started walking down the road to the field arena. And guess what? We went farther than we ever have! And made it very, very close to the field arena. As I led Buckshot down the road, he followed very willingly, without any balking or hesitation. He stopped occasionally to look at horses in the pastures on the road. We reached a spot near a barn where I had previously given him a treat. This time, he stopped and softly touched my hand with his nose. A reminder, perhaps, that this was a treat spot? Probably. So I gave him a treat there.

And we kept walking. Several yards down the road, he became nervous, and smooth as silk, turned me around one hundred and eighty degrees. I let him walk a few steps in that direction and then stopped him. I told him if he would walk just ten more steps, he’d get a treat and we’d turn back. Well, we turned back around and he did walk/ slightly circle for ten additional steps beyond the farthest point. I then gave him a treat and we headed back. We were so close to our destination, but I didn’t want to push it. He had gone beyond his comfort point already. Inside, I was thrilled at how far he had gone – so willingly and trustingly! I’m sure we will make our destination in a few more attempts! There is grass there I can’t wait to let him eat. I am so proud of Buckshot.

We walked back down to road and went into the arena. We did a few exercises walking around and over several cavaletti. He even backed up over them. After a few minutes, I said let’s go walk on the trail. And we headed into the trail. We walked very far into the trail by ourselves. Buckshot was willing and trusting, stopping to sniff every pile of poop, but otherwise, without any problems. I finally stopped us, took a drink of water (the day was so hot and humid the trail was like a sauna!), gave him a treat, and turned around to head back. He followed willingly.

When we exited the woods, I was thrilled with him! We had never walked so far in the woods by ourselves before! What a willing and confident horse he was! I took him to his stall, not to untack him (he only had a halter and lead line on), but to get his “post-work” treats, and get his rinsing tools, and we went to the wash stall for a nice rinse. Then I took my amazing horse back to his pasture, telling him all the way what a wonderful horse he is!! I am still so proud of him, of his willingness to go on two adventures, further than we had gone before, and with such a good attitude. When he became nervous at one point, he let me know, and then trusted me with a few more steps. I know it may seem so ordinary, we were just walking various places, but for me, it was an exciting day for us, and makes me just so proud of him! I hope you had a wonderful time with your horses also!

On another topic, last night I saw the movie “Buck” about horse trainer Buck Brannaman. I thought it was a good movie. It relayed his background and history, and his current clinics. It shared a little bit of his training theories. In my opinion, he seems to be a very nice, low key person, a great horse trainer with a lot of empathy for horses and a general all-around nice person. Someone I’d love to have the opportunity to talk to in person some day. I find him such a contrast from the hard-charging, heavy-handed marketing-type clinicians. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I learned a lot from the movie; in fact, I wish he had shared more of his theories, practices and philosophies. Watching him ride his horse in a field, and perform the most beautiful, controlled, soft moves with a horse was breathtaking. It was far beyond any maneuvers I ever will be able to do, but I appreciated seeing such lovely riding by an expert. There are also some raw and difficult sections of the movie, e.g., the physical abuse he suffered as a young child, as well as issues with a dangerous horse at one of his clinics. Overall, I liked the movie and do recommend it to horse fans. But it isn’t really a movie for children because of the topics just mentioned. For adult horse fans, it is a good movie. What are your thoughts on it?


juliette said...

So glad you are feeling better!

Buckshot is the very best boy and you are the best owner. I know he is grateful for you and your time together. I love the story of you walking in the woods alone. He is confident in you.

Thanks for the review of the movie. I generally can't handle movies about animals/horses. My mom and cousin are going to see it on Saturday.

Carol said...

Your description of Buckshot 'helping' you to find a good dismounting spot in the arena had me laughing out loud! What a funny and sweet horse.
You have great instincts and timing for knowing just how far to push him out of his comfort zone. I used to push Rogo too far when things were going well, and then ruin it. I think I'm doing better now though. You always seem to get it just right.