I have been really back and forth on this, and I apologize to those who have been reading past posts regarding Chance and thinking: woman! Make up your mind!
I figured that iout of anyone else on the equestrian team... I have the money, the time, and the will to at least -try- to get Chance to a better state. Everyone else is either jobless, have other commitments, can't commute to where he is, or just don't want to bother.
I spoke with my instructor, and I told him I will work Chance as a project horse. I have decided that whatever happens, happens. If Chance and I work well together, great. If my instructor thinks its good enough for potential ownership, fabulous. If not, oh well. I'm doing something good.
So prior to this before snow ate the outdoor arena, and almost my car... I had been working him, and we were very slowly making progress under saddle. Ground manners I need to inlist the help of my instructor, because something's not clicking there.
Anyway. First day was rough. Had to really argue with him to get him to stand before out of frustration I verbally told him to, and voila... He did. He is squirrely under saddle. Likes to go go go. Being a TWH, that's probably natural, but with his history, and the high potential that he was abused, I think there was something more. So, as part of our warm up, I decided to just do simple patterning. Random moving through things, circles, just something that doesn't make him hamster wheel.
Dismount, and he has a foot cocked, head relaxed and low, and he just seemed at peace. I was quite proud. Normally he's anxious, nervous and flighty.
So given that, I tried it again the next time. He stood better for me, and instantly we worked on some turns around the evil step stool that he hates so much. Went back to working on backing, side passing, weaving stansions. Great progress. as soon as I tried going along the perimeter, he seemed to get back to getting hot, so, no more of that for him.
Dismounted, and the snow caught my legs and made me fall on my bum. Chance simply looked at me as if wondering why I was on the ground, instead of bolting off as he had previously done once when I accidentally let the rope slip from my hands.
All of this was done at a walk. I want to soon encorporate faster gaits, so as to get him some muscle mass, and work on transitions. In my work with him, I have noticed he has been trained extremely well. My instructor loves riding him because he is willing, and light. He also seems to be the sort to be a "sponge" and can absorb the things he has learned, sit for a while, and you can expect him to be back where he was.
I was wondering, how long should I keep him walking? Until I can expect calmness at the get go? I wonder if getting to higher gaits will make him hot, and ruin what we were working on before. Right now, all I'm focusing on is relaxation and calmness in the riding space. All other problems I will tackle once I can have my instructor's help and complete my prior goal.
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I haven't read your other threads. I just wanted to wish you the very best on your project with Chance.
I'm really excited. I hope with this he turns into a really nice horse.
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It sounds to me like you are pretty happy with your choice. I for one always liked the horses the other girls hated. At horse camp when I was a kid I always had "that one horse" that was a pain and a problem to ride, but honestly I enjoyed every minute of it, and I think so far you are too. I hope you continue to enjoy your time. I think that Chance just needs to learn some manners and realize that he can't get away with anything. As I know you know, it'll take time. It is awesome that despite all that you want what is best for him. I applaude you!
As for going at faster gaits, I'd wait. It is most important to read him. How is he behaving? You are new to him, he is knew to you, so it may take awhile for you to get to really know his behavior. Maybe just spend some time with him out of the saddle too. I know it is frustrating having to slow things down and now move faster (I personally get pretty bored at the walk, and I know my mare does too) but if Chance is being hyper at the walk, pushing him past what he is comfortable with at this point is just asking for trouble. I don't really know if you can put a time limit on it, "walk for one more week" or "three more days". I think it really depends on how he is going for you.
I'd also suggest trying him on the line. If he has alot of excess energy, try lungeing him. If he doesn't know how, this is something that needs to for sure be taught. But if he does know how, there is no reason not to snap a lunge line to his halter and take him around. I know some people don't really believe in "joining up" with a horse, but I know from my own experience after a lungeing session with my mare, she will follow me around the arena without a lead or halter. She won't do this before we lunge though. I guess it is you as the 'dominant' leader of your head of two (you and him) and having him drive around you is saying you are the leader, his guide, and you are not only in charge, but will lead him to safety. I'd do lots of these session prior to mounting up.
Of course, all this is just my opinion. If he calms a bit and will walk easily on the outside of the arena without any issues, then try him at a trot. The key is to make sure BOTH of you are calm. He needs to be ready to listen to your aids and you need to remain calm and relaxed and do not tense up at all on him. It is when you feel really in sync with him at the walk that you can try trotting. Not before. Listen to him-cuz he will be listening to you.
Good luck!!! And as always, have FUN!
dumb question, but do Tenn. walker horses lunge? I mean, they dont' trot, and some of them don't canter much either. So, do they really lunge ?
You are right, better not run before I can walk, eh? The weird thing was, he was calm and relaxed in the arena, but as soon as he left, his nervousness picked up. I'm not entirely new to him, he has been on the land for... A year and a half or so, but barely worked. I don't know everything about him yet, but he has some definitive habits, for sure.
He likes people. But is unsure about them. And used to be really "weird" about them, like he only wants to be with you on his terms. If you tried petting say his neck or something, he would turn his head and give you a weird look as if questioning the intentions of said hand.
He is better, and I can give him some scratches (which he loves), and I think he's growing to be a real ham.
As for the lunging, he refuses. Every time I try sending him out, he hides his butt from me. I try to get to his drive line, and he just side steps his butt around and stares at me. The only time I ever got him to lunge, was using a CA knock off handy stick without the whip attachment, and tapped him on the neck to get him going in the circle I wanted. He seemed only annoyed by it. But my instructor said he would help work on it with him, too.
His previous owner was afraid of him to the point of sending him to the meat market, and I can understand why. He has learned that he can "bully" people, such as rear, try ripping the lead rope away, etc. But the good thing is, he isn't a dominant personality so if you get after him well enough for it, he becomes very "yes ma'am, I will try".
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I'm not sure if he knows how... If he does, he sure knows how to block it, Tiny.
I'm wondering if he is a cross of sorts, too, because he doesn't gait. He doesn't feel like a non-gaited horse though. He can canter beautifully on the straight, and I did get him to lunge once purely because he made me angry enough with his antics (he reared and tried ripping the lead rope from me) and he cantered like a dream. Beautiful mover... I digress. But as soon as I tried changing direction, it fell apart. Bah!
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