Well after Red's ride last night, I'll add to the venting!
It's dark by 7 PM now, so my weekday riding is dwindling. I've been working more on ground work exercises than riding the last week or so because I don't have to keep him in shape for anything coming up, and he could sure use the respect/trust training.
Well I got off work a bit early last night and it was a beautiful evening with no wind. I thought I'd go for a nice relaxing mostly walking ride with him for a couple miles, and then do some ground work afterward (since it might have started raining by then).
Oh. My. Lord. He was spooking at everything including the air. There goes our "relaxing ride" idea. And when Red spooks, it consists of something not even close to him (sometimes 1/4 mile away), that he sees and completely freezes, locks up, tenses, stares in horror with head in the air, snorts at it, and then decides to bolt 5 to 10 seconds later when he can't handle it anymore, completely ignoring any of my body cues and the bit and the world around him. It's like when anger management people say they "see red" and don't know what happened. Red panics, and his mind is completely gone.
And sometimes, he'll stop and stare and bolt to something that's not even there. (I'm staring too, and I don't see a thing.) It's like he "thinks" he sees something.
And then of course, he immediately starts to actively look for the next thing to be terrified of. Does not matter how much I'm moving his feet, or trying to keep his attention, he's bent on looking around. Focus is a huge issue for him.
It took us twice as long to walk 2 miles because we backtracked a ton. We were doing tons of one-reined stops (only thing I can do to try to stop him when he bolts, and he still doesn't exactly give to the bit for a good 5 seconds until his freaked out brain comes back), and we were doing tons of stop and flex both ways, lots of rollbacks and serpentines.
It's so frustrating. He's gotten worse and worse with this freezing and bolting thing. I'm really hoping the trainer I am taking him to in February will have some insight on this. It's like he's super insecure and is just convinced something is going to jump out and eat his leg. Even though the "closest" scary thing last night was at least 40 feet away and never came closer. And I kept my body and hands as quiet as I could, while still keeping a hold of him when he tries to bolt.
But this is something I WAS genuinely considering selling him for last night. I can ride through the bolts just fine, I'm not scared. It's just that I don't know if I want a spooky horse like this right now. His other issues I can totally live with, but I left the barn last night feeling angry and stressed. That's not what horses are supposed to do for me!! And I have that feeling more times than not, leaving the barn.
I'm not going to take any action until after the trainer in February, but it's a thought in my mind.
Maybe I should ride him around with blinders so he can't look at things......
And he did get worked in the corral when we got home. I've been starting to try to work him at home so he's not so barn sour (not that he won't leave the yard, but he sure prefers to turn toward home than turn away from home when we are out and about). Heck, Saturday I rode one mile away from home at the walk, and then came back home and worked him in his own pasture. And then let him walk 1/2 mile away from home easily.
∞•*˚ Βгįťţαňγ ˚*•∞
It is not enough to know how to ride; one must know how to fall.