Frustrating ride / Rant:
Had an unusual ride today. Planned to do 3 minutes in the arena with Bandit exploring his hoof boots, then take him on a SHORT ride solo on the trail. Short because my wife was leaving soon for a medical appointment and she (and I!) doesn't entirely approve of me riding solo when no one is around to look for me or notice things if I don't come back.
Just after mounting, Trooper went BONKERS. Running around, squealing, jumping, kicking. Looked. Saw two people riding on the road about 5-600 yards away. Bandit didn't notice them or care about Trooper. The people turned up our street. THEN Bandit noticed them. He became very tense.
Why? In 11 years of riding, I've seen another horse being ridden TWO TIMES. The previous time, I still had Mia. Nothing scared Mia as much as a strange horse, but she had slowly become able to handle seeing another horse in a corral. I was quite proud of her when she stood her ground and didn't run away from a strange gelding. Stressed her, but she didn't try to run.
Four years ago, I swapped Mia for Bandit. Today was the first time since Bandit arrived that he had seen a strange horse being ridden. He didn't panic, but he tensed up tight inside. We got a little dressagey, so to speak. Yes, I've ridden a collected horse. I've never ASKED a horse to collect, but I've ridden them at times!
The two horses and riders paused on the road near me - I asked them to - and I coaxed Bandit to approach. He was NOT happy, but he did. Snorting & blowing and ready to fight. They asked me if I wanted to ride up the street with them and I took a pass. Both of their horses were bored with meeting Bandit.
The riders suggested I go to a clinic being held in the city soon on how to work with a mustang. After all, I obviously don't know how to ride a mustang or work with one if Bandit was so unhappy and tense about being near strange horses! The riders were being nice. I want to emphasize their intentions were pure.
But it was also very frustrating. According to his previous owner, when Bandit was loose on the reservation with a free-roaming herd, he didn't mix with the other horses. Bandit was always off to one side. When he came here, it took about 6 months to get him to mix peacefully with the other two - 6 months where he lived in his own corral just feet away from the others. And he has now gone 4 years without seeing another horse loose in the open (other than Cowboy and Trooper).
Mia obviously believed in her heart that other horses wanted to attack her. I am told that has changed now that she has experienced life in a free-roaming herd.
Bandit? I don't know what has happened before, but he tenses mightily just being ridden within 100 yards of corralled horses. I was proud he accepted my guidance to approach the strange horses. I wasn't sure he would. The Horse Who Thinks
ALWAYS has his own thoughts. I was thrilled he would accept my "advice" to approach what obviously deeply worried him. Heck, Trooper totally freaked out just SEEING the strange horses within 500 yards - and he was in his corral!
They offered to let me ride with them, but Bandit would have been an emotional mess so I declined. They recommended the clinic again and left. As they left, Bandit got the Twisty-Turnies. He did NOT want his tail toward the strangers. So I rode him out onto the road and let him watch them riding away, then rode him back. In our little arena he offered a few laps of cantering followed by a few more of trotting, then blew hard and accepted he had survived the encounter.
But I also felt like a total failure!
I'm genuinely proud of Bandit for listening to me as well as he did. He was very
uncomfortable but did as I asked. OK, we briefly did a few twists and turns in a "collected" sort of way, but look at the bright side - he didn't buck! He obviously felt a need for speed, but he didn't canter until I asked him! He felt threatened, but he approached when asked.
Still, I apparently don't know much, in spite of 4 years with Bandit and 7 years before that with Mia. I'm sure I don't look like much of a rider, too...but I've ridden more severe bolts than most need to in their lives, and ridden a ton of violent spins, and the only time I've come off was when I was already trying to get off.
But...I need to go to a clinic to learn to ride a mustang.
It helps me understand why my son might get frustrated when given advice on diet. We can mean well and still come across as putting someone else down. Not how the other riders meant it, I'm sure. But how I felt.
On the bright side, my new cowboy boots were great:
Ariat Men's Sport Outfitter Western Cowboy Boot
Amazon had them on sale for $100 and I grabbed a pair. The heel is 1.75 inches - a nice big heel - and is slanted in just enough to feel totally comfortable when walking. My heel hits at the same leg angle when I walk barefoot or in these boots. Wide toe feels good too. Low shaft. Easy on/off. The most comfortable walking boots I own. Yet they also have a great big heel. Nice to have when one uses the "home" position!
I'd buy a second pair but the price had gone back to $145. Oh well!
PS: Did I mention I was proud of Bandit? OK...well, it is worth repeating. He was giving me what he had to give. I thought he was wonderful today.