Forewarning, this will be a long post since it's the first one. After this they probably won't be quite as long.
So I'm making this thread/journal as a way to track my progress with my boy Sam. I do have another jouranl that I did post him in for a while, but I feel like my journey with Sam is very different than the one I've been on with Jack so I'd like to track purely Sam's stuff in it's own journal so that I can look back and see where we started instead of guessing what page to go to, to be able to look back at where things were at it. And also, the way I work with Sam is decently different than how I've worked with Jack.
Alright, so some starting info about Sam
for any who want to know:
Registered name: Kings Gold Ruler
Age: 9 years
Height: 16.1 hh
Other: Was trained to raced and tattooed, but never made it onto the track. Went into dressage when he was 4 but he wasn't a top priority so he didn't get taught too much before being sold and then used as a trail horse for a few years. Since I've had him:
I got Sam back in September of 2019. He was in decent condition and settled into living with me and jack quite well. However, as by the end of the month, I stopped riding him since going into October, he started losing a lot of weight as we went into winter. He got his teeth floated during that time and I simply focused on getting his weight up because of how much he lost.
Through the rest of winter, he's only been ridden maybe 15 - 20 times due to weather, Sam's time to gain weight, and me getting sick, family member passing, and also me going through an injury to my knee.
So now I'm to the point of having lots of free time and weather is better with spring here and now I'm going to be restarting him. What things have been like at the start of the first week back into work:
Sam has been been very spooky of everything, high strung/fresh, and full of himself. When lunging, he wants to do nothing but run. If he's outside on a walk, he's constantly eyeing everything and ready to spook at the drop of a hat pretty much. If he's asked to do something, he may do it but does it more as a reaction than listening and responding properly. When riding, he always wants to go faster and spooks 10x easier and will threaten to rear and will spin around and bolt if not held back. All around, not fun to ride or work with at this stage. He would also shut down if he couldn't get anywhere with reacting and that's not fun to deal with either. However, he did do well with the tarp, ball and a few other obstacles I presented. He also does great at following me at liberty as well. Currently:
Since that first week of trying to work with him, I took some time away (a few days, just under a week) to really think about a game plan and what to do to try to help this whole thing go smoother since we were getting nowhere. I did some research, watched some videos, and in the end, I decided to try to go with Clinton Anderson method. Now, I'm not doing 100% everything he does since I have found some other things that work for Sam, but its one method I have yet to try and figured I might as well see how it goes.
Well, today is day 3 into using his method. And I gotta say, there's been a lot of progress! I've gone back to ground work (again) but following more of what he says this time around. For the next 2 weeks, I plan to purely just do ground work to make sure we get a decent understanding going on the ground before I'll think about hopping back on him.
Anyway, by today, he was already much calmer. He wasn't ready to just run like a maniac when I lunged him. Instead, he walked around nicely and even when trotting, he trotted nicely. No super speedy trot or constantly trying to canter and gallop around like he's on fire. It was nice to see him finally starting to relax. He even started to lower and stretch his head/neck out. At one point while asking him to walk, he would try breaking into the trot on his own so I simply made him rollback to go the other way as soon as he tried to speed up. It took about 5 of these rollbacks before he realized trying to do things on his own caused him more work than if he just simply listened to me to. He listened perfectly after that and even responded to my voice cues even better. There was one point while walking I could see him thinking about trotting as he did speed up on his walking but then he let out a breath, did some licking and chewing and relaxed back into the walk. I haven't seen him that calm in quite some time so it was really nice to see.
We've also been working on his flexing. He's never been bad at it, but not great either. But he's making progress with that and getting lighter/softer. I've also been working on him yielding his hindquarters since that's been an ongoing issue where he always would move forward and sideways instead of just pivoting around. With the whip, he seems to think I'm asking him to lunge, but if I just use my hands and body language, then he does better so I have to figure that out yet, however he is getting better anyway. But with the flexing, it's also helping to teach him the one rein stop which it seems he didn't know before either so that's going to be nice as well.
Also been working on desensitizing. I can now slap the whip on the ground next to him, in front of him, and behind him without him losing his mind. I can toss a rope around him without issue. And also am getting him to lower/give his head a bit more as well which he's been good with all along anyway. And also have had no shut downs take place so that's another big win too.
In general, he's just getting much calmer and relaxed which is awesome. I'm very happy with the progress that we're finally making, though there's still a long ways to go yet to get to where I hope to be.
I also got him to have a chiro visit today and it turns out he's been out all over so no doubt that's been affecting him quite a bit too.
So I'm looking forward to seeing where we'll be at in another 1-2 weeks time with how much progress he's making now after 3 days. Though tomorrow will be a more relaxed day where we may go for a walk around the stable yard and have a bath if the weather is nice enough since he's had chiro and needs a day for his body to rest from it. Short Term Goals:
Get on the same page with Sam and have good communication going on.
Be able to go for rides and not have to wonder what's going to set him off next.
Be able to have a nice relaxed trot under saddle.
Relax and enjoy my time with him more and also have him learn how to relax more as well. Long Term Goals:
Do some barrels for fun.
Biggest thing is that I want to go into jumping.
Have him be more confident and brave in tackling new situations.
Be able to do more liberty and teach him a couple of tricks.
Expand my skill set and learn how to be able to train and communicate with Sam, but other horses better as well.
Now time for pictures!
This one he decided he wanted to hold the lead rope himself for a bit lol
normally Sam would always have his head high up in the air, ready to run. So it was nice to see him relax and pretty much fall asleep lol. And in this session, we didn't even do much physical work. He didn't even come close to breaking a sweat. It was mostly all just mental and him having to think about things and process them. There were plenty of yawns and many times of licking and chewing as well so he's definitely starting to think now and not just react.