, I've had similar discussions with people about mustangs. Very unrealistic. What I can't understand is the contradiction of those who think culling or contraception is too cruel, but don't mind if the animals starve or suffer as long as they are on the range. Or with our opossums, wanting to save all the animals and preserve wildlife, unless of course they are non-native in which case it's fine to let them suffer or euthanize young animals.
I saw that Nala's rider had been out several days ago with another rider, so I am thinking about asking her if she would be comfortable with going out for a ride soon. Riding alone is still fun, but I'm feeling ready for a trail ride.
Went for a half hour ride on Hero yesterday. I try not to ride for too long when we're not on a trail ride with another horse, because I don't want Hero to think riding is drudgery. Very slowly I have been changing his thinking about riding toward more positive. We were in an empty field with Amore grazing in the next field over, so both felt they had company. Amore has been the one getting upset lately if I go too far away with Hero. It is strange, she was not prone to doing that when turned out with other mares.
Maybe in the beginning I did too much with Hero, not understanding how sore he was. My interpretation was that he was not an athletic, go-getter type. Unless he was upset, he seemed to have more whoa than go. Going out on longer rides in the sand probably did not help his overall bias that riding was not that fun, but it was balanced a bit by wanting to go out with Nala.
Having Nala gone has actually helped force me to work on creating positive rides with Hero, and a lot of things have started coming together. Shorter exercise sessions have helped him not be sore, and he seems to be getting more forward and responsive for me. I think the amino acid supplements have helped him also - his muscle distribution looks smooth now with no tense areas like over his croup.
Now I believe finally that I am seeing his baseline personality, and we've reached the point where I understand more about what is going on and what his reactions are. With all the kicking and bucking from his stifle issues, it was difficult to know what was frustration, temper, insecurity, etc. Also it is not a secure feeling when you don't know if a horse is ramping up or losing it, panicking or just acting up.
Now I understand that Hero is willing, and does like to exercise when he knows it won't be uncomfortable. He's even fine with going around in circles for a while, around the perimeter of a field, and if he seems unwilling to go forward it is because something is making him fearful or spooky. It took me a while to understand that since his fear reactions are different from other horses. He is a somewhat spooky horse. Not as spooky as Amore ever was, but not as bold as Halla. But I've been learning that what I've sometimes thought were him not wanting to do something are actually just spooks.
For example, on our ride yesterday I saw that he was eyeing a corner of the field where the stream was going by making noises and it was dark and wooded, and there was an obviously well-traveled elk track through it. So I was thinking he might spook around that area, and sure enough, when we passed by it he was staring and then a car went by on the highway above us. Hero hopped a little and the next time by there was a sound again and he popped up, reared and spun. Knowing this was spooking, I got his attention back onto me, and the next couple of times around I talked continuously in a soothing tone and praised him for trotting through without spooking. In the past I was somewhat leery of what spinning or rearing was going to lead to.
Especially now that I've spent so much time observing Hero on the lunge, I know that when he does this kind of spook it is self-limiting. Also it is natural when horses rear or buck to feel insecure and wonder if it is going to knock you off. A while back I had to get logical and tell myself that this horse has been doing shenanigans very often and only unseated me once or twice. For some reason, even if things don't look or feel wonderful, they are very rideable, and so they don't need to be very concerning. This is the style of spook this horse does. That makes me just go ahead and ride through it, and then we go on.
I know that he would probably not have spooked at all, if I had lunged some of the energy out of him before riding. It was sort of an experiment, since I had not had the horses out in three days and I was curious to see if Hero was improving with managing his energy without having to get the excess "packing peanuts" taken off. Other than a couple of spooks, Hero walked out, went wherever I asked, picked up the trot and canter, and stayed balanced. These are very good improvements for him. I'm having a lot of confidence, thinking if I want to trailer him out for rides he will do well, since I've been keeping him in shape and we've been getting to trust each other and be a better team.