My youngest got back from her 2-month trip overseas a few days back, and we had decent weather. So we took Bandit and Trooper out. Trooper had probably been ridden 3 times in the last 2+ months. Bandit has been ridden very little this last month or so, and that only in our little arena. So how'd they do?
In a word - great.
This is the day one trash company picks up the main trash, and the other one in our area picks up recycling - so every house had at least one trash can. Bandit obviously doesn't like them, but he never slowed down, not even for the ones with open mouths.
On 31 Oct, I wrote:
...There was a truck and trailer parked beside the road in a place no one had parked before. That was pretty scary. I eventually led him up to it, but he got fussy when I was about to mount up, so I started leading him. 30 feet past, turn around, walk by until 30 feet past, turn around...maybe two dozen times, until he relaxed as I mounted up.
He was still on edge, and we went into the desert
...I will say that when we came back, Bandit walked past the truck and trailer without any extra urging. He didn't like it, but he stayed on the paved road and never slowed...
The trailer has remained a pretty disturbing sight, and this time there were dead plants in the back of it, so I told my daughter to be prepared to take the lead. The trailer was on the east side of the road. Bandit edged to the west side, off the pavement but between it and a 4" high "wall" of brick a neighbor had used to edge their yard. He still doesn't like it, but crowding the 4 inch edging was enough to keep him moving. Didn't step over the bricks once.
Trooper? He didn't care. I think he was pretty well content to have "his" rider back.
About 5 minutes into the desert, Bandit sighed, lowered his head to where it is in my avatar...and then stayed relaxed and willing the rest of the ride. It was all in an area he knows well, but he went past all the spots he gets sticky in without getting sticky. Gave the stink eye to one or two things, but he didn't slow. We spent over an hour walking the horses in the 200 acres of desert near us, going along washes, on trails and off them. Neither horse put a foot wrong or fussed...and it had been at least a month since Bandit had been in the desert.
Coming back, he passed the trailer without hesitation and barely glanced at it. Then the garbage truck turned the corner and headed toward us. They often zip by at 40 mph in a 25 zone, belching smoke. I didn't want to press my luck, so I dismounted.
This garbageman, however, slowed his truck and idled by as quietly as he could. I waved and shouted thanks. My daughter stayed on Trooper, and Bandit didn't even LOOK at the garbage truck. He was looking at our corral, where an excited Cowboy was running around and calling out in frustration at being left behind.
We were only 5 minutes from home, and I normally walk once an hour and was overdue, so I led Bandit the last 5 minutes, including the garbage truck passing us again.
One of the reasons I had considered taking a whip was to "unstick" him at the trailer. Glad I didn't, and haven't, because he is now accepting the trailer as a minimal threat. Would he have done so if I had whipped him to get him to go by? Or would that have cemented the idea that trailers are dangerous?
Don't know. But Bandit and Trooper were very well behaved for two horses who have been cooped up in a corral most of the last month. We even trotted them a little ways, side by side, and they didn't get too competitive.
It can be such an up/down, hot/cold thing with horses that I often miss signs of progress. And Bandit is making progress. If he is sometimes "silly" - well, HE
doesn't think it is silly! FWIW, I tensed up at a couple of spots where I thought he might tense up...and he didn't follow 'my lead'. He stayed relaxed.
People talk about us needing to be "The Strong Leader". I suppose that works with some horses. Bandit is, however, an "Independent Horse" - a horse who makes up his own mind and who doesn't really care much about what other horses or humans think. He hasn't so much become calmer because I'm Superman, but because he is learning that a lot of things that used to scare him just do not merit fear. He has gained some
respect for my opinion about how scary something is, but I don't think he'll ever become a "Whatever you say, Boss
" horse. Don't really want him to, either
. Paying attention to his fears is embarrassing in a land filled with stock horses who just obey, but maybe some embarrassment is the price I pay to have someone I ride with
instead of on
Still thinking about English saddles. I searched the Internet for a place that reflocks saddles. The closest I could find is about 3 hours away, and it is primarily a western saddle repair shop. I'm sure there is someone in Scottsdale that does it, but maybe it is word of mouth. Can you mail a saddle somewhere for reflocking? I realize that wouldn't give a custom fit, but it might be my best option. Not sure I want to buy English if getting it reflocked someday isn't a viable option.