The veterinarian told us that once Silver was castrated that we could get two months of training done in two weeks if we worked with him every day. Of course, I did not do that, but I really did work with him most every day and I have to admit, he was a different horse. Due to his neck injury, which was still healing, and his procedure, we left him in the pens by himself. After a few days, we gave him the Calf Patch as well. Most days, I longed him and some days I worked on getting him to come to me. I was sensitive to the fact that I couldn’t be too soft. If he didn’t come up to me, or at least let me come up to him, then I would crack the whip and run him around the pens a bit. That seemed to work pretty well, but I do wonder if it’s not confusing. I used the same principle in longeing. He had never been good at longeing at the lope. I would pay out more lead to give him room to move and he knew that he could get away from the whip. After a couple of strides, he would stop and face me. This time, as soon as he did that, I ran to him and cracked the whip, chasing him a bit. I tried again, going quickly from the trot to the lope in whatever direction he chose. Whenever he tried to stop, I cracked the whip and if he balked, I ran him around a bit. In just a few minutes, he was doing as he was told. When I did stop him, he quickly came to me and put his head in my chest, so I gave him a good rubbing and “made much of him” as the cavalry manual says.
This instantly approaching me after stopping him got a little scary when I put the saddle on him. I had mentioned before that I put the McClellan on him and the stirrups got him bucking around pretty good. I decided to break that process down, so I put on an old Mac with no stirrups. I just had the pad and the tree cinched down pretty tight. It didn’t make a difference. Once he took a couple of steps, he realized that this thing wasn’t coming off and he took to bucking. The theory is that you just let them buck until they are tired and realize that the saddle is not going to hurt him. I would have loved to do that, but he eventually worked the saddle pad out. Now, the saddle was loose and I worried about him turning it or slipping it off down his legs. That would be a real disaster that could get him hurt. He’d buck some, then stop and immediately and quickly come to me for reassurance. Of course, when he did, that saddle moved on him and he would start bucking again right next to me. Finally, he calmed down long enough for me to get it off. That was unsettling too. If he took to bucking before I had completely freed it, then that could have been a wreck as well.
So, my mission is to now figure out a way to keep the saddle on tight, be able to release it quickly in a jam, and then let him buck with it until he can stand to be longed with it on. Of course, whenever I think about him doing that with me on board, my heart rate goes way up. Maybe I will do some additional reading. I really really and truly do not want to hurt this horse and I don’t want to get on him wondering if he is going to buck. So, I will have to do a lot of prayer and trusting along with research. I’ll let you know!