Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Good Rides with Buckshot

I finally got to the barn last Saturday to see my sweet Buckshot, and he was fine. The farm hadn’t been damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but several of the horses, including Buckshot, had been moved to the main barn during the worst of the rain, wind and cold temperatures. I meekly asked the BO (barn owner) if Buckshot had whinnied a lot when in the stall. I know he can be, well, noisy, when confined to a stall, so I hoped it hadn’t been too bad. She said a lot of the horses had been whinnying so Buckshot wasn’t the only one; eventually he had settled down and eaten hay.

After I saw him, hugged him, told him how I missed him, and cleaned up his stall, I got him over to the main barn and groomed and tacked him up. He had good energy! It was a nice crisp fall day, and you could just feel the good energy in the air. In fact, when I tried to mount him, he had too much energy. I now can mount him while he is moving, but it isn’t a good situation. In fact, my own procedures had caused this problem. I had gotten Buckshot to take a treat just before I get on him, in order to get him to stand still, and then I gave him a second treat when on him. It worked perfectly for a long time. But eventually it backfired. Giving him a treat from the saddle caused him to accidently bite my hand or fingers several times. So I started leaving the treat on the mounting block, and after I was in the saddle, I’d turn him around to pick it up from the block. But over time, his excitement about that treat on the block caused him to start turning the moment my left foot was in the stirrup, hence, my mounting a moving horse. So on Saturday, I finally admitted to myself that we had a new problem with mounting. That‘s the first step- admitting there is a problem.

Anyway, we had a great ride. Buckshot had a lot of great energy and did some very nice trotting, and, wonder of wonders! Some super cantering! He cantered strongly and powerfully, several times in fact, so strongly that my seat bumped on the saddle (and boy, did I feel sore later). We also had a nice ride through the woods, with my sister and Dusty. It was a great day!

On Sunday, the weather was wonderful again- nice and crisp/cool, with some sunshine and no chance of rain. Buckshot and I had a really good ride, with nice trotting and wonderful cantering again. I was thrilled. And I worked on the mounting issue. When I first went to get on him, he moved before I got my foot in the stirrup, so I got off of the block, and walked him over to a different mounting block, to change up his normal procedure, because I was about to make a bigger change. At this mounting block, I gave him two treats up front, then got on the block and got on him, without his moving. Then I walked him away from it. The new protocol is: one treat at mounting, no second treat after I’m on him.

At first, he wiggled this way and that, trying to get back to the block to get his treat. I squeezed him firmly and said walk on. After a moment, he moved forward and we started our ride.

I mounted him three more times that day, all to retrain him how to mount. I gave him a treat at the beginning, then I got on him, and no more treats. He scooted around to look for the treat he expected, but I firmly got him walking forward and after a moment, he forgot about it. So after four times practicing our new protocol, we are well on our way to having a better situation. I’ll have to keep it up until he is comfortable with the change, but he will be. (I give him lots of treats after every ride, and pamper him as much as possible, so that minimizes any guilt I feel about taking away this treat. And, for safety reasons, it is important to make this change.)

So I had wonderful times with Buckshot last weekend. I never did make it to the Equine Extravaganza. On Friday, I couldn’t take time off from work, and on Saturday and Sunday, I wanted to be with Buckshot instead of going to the convention. So no shopping for me, or research on wonderful horse secrets, but I was exactly where I most wanted to be- with my sweet horse himself.

I’ve ordered a glucosamine supplement from SmartPak, to try and help with any stiffness Buckshot has from arthritis. He was stiff after laying down for sleep during the cold wet hurricane – apparently he will lay down in inclement weather, and even with his winter blanket on, he still got chilled (and then the BO took him to the main barn). So I want to try to relieve some of his stiffness. We’ll see how it works.

Hope you had a nice weekend!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like you had some really great rides this weekend. They're so smart aren't they about their treats. It was a good idea to change up the mounting routine. Good thinking. He's such a smart boy I'm sure he'll be an angel from now on.

juliette said...

Jan - I love reading your posts about Buckshot. You always think through everything you do with your horse and that makes me smile. I would trust you completely with my horses. I don't say that often to many people - if ever.

The mounting block situation, for example - I know you will continue to work through this in a kind manner and without stress or hurrying. I like that you understood WHY Buckshot is doing this moving around without thinking he is acting "bad". And, you don't punish him for it by making a huge fuss or extra work for him. You just calmly take him to another mounting block and start a new routine. You realize that he might not get the routine right away and you might have to change the new one if it fails in time. Thank you for not getting mad at him or assuming that he is trying to pull a fast one on you. Jan, you could train a horse to do anything because you do not focus on the end goal being finished quickly. You break each process down into small, "bite-sized" (treat pun intended!) steps. I think of you as an advanced horseman (horsewoman).

Also, I laughed when you said that you decided to not to attend the Extravaganza because you didn't want to miss out on time with your horse. I could have written that sentence. I find that I never can attend anything horsey - shows or conventions or anything because I worry about the time that is slipping away when I am not with my horses. All I think about when I am without them is the time I can be with them! I would climb the walls at a horse event if I wasn't with my own horses.

Thanks for being such a great advocate for the horse. It is a joy to read!