Thursday, July 14, 2016

End of This Challenge

Husband doing the tacking... So spoiled

Today marked the tenth day, and the conclusion, of our ten day saddle challenge. We did miss two days so it was not exactly consecutive but I did my best. It started off with Oak trotting up from across the pasture when he saw me walking over with the saddle. That felt really good.

My husband came out and took some more photos for me, and he actually tacked him up today. He put the saddle on from the off side, with the lead rope hanging over his neck, and Oak stood still and stayed calm throughout.

I am just going to tie these to you OK?

I decided to end with a bang and brought out the milk jugs. He did not have much of a reaction to them last time so I introduced them to him briefly before looping them on the saddle horn and asking for him to trot around me. About the second time around Oak exploded in a series of bronc bucks which sent the jugs flying off of him. A much bigger reaction than I expected! I calmed him down and got the jugs back on there -- this time tying them in place. For better or worse they were up there.

Right before the bucking. Unfortunately no bucking photos.

Once we started back to lunging we did not see Oak the bronc come out again but he was very tense and snorty. I am sure he had a ton of Adrenalin coursing though his system, but he stayed with me and kept trying which is the important part. We ended with a little bit of targeting. Not our best day, but not a disaster either.

Feeling a bit better about the whole thing.
I feel bad that I had not done more prep with Oak to help him understand the jugs did not require acrobatics, but I think it is also good sometime to push your horse over his threshold in training and see what his natural reactions to things are. I learned some valuable things about Oak today.

1. He can buck hard! 2. He really is okay until he is not, and then he explodes. I need to make sure I do my homework with him every time and 3. He can come back from a big scare relatively well -- but he stays on high alert the rest of the session.

I will be giving us both a day off tomorrow, but I will be back at it on Saturday! Maybe another 10 day challenge is in order? What do you think it should be? Should it be desensitization with movement, objects, and sound on the saddle? Maybe I'll do five days at a time. That seems more sustainable. I don't work him hard everyday. In fact most days he does not work at all I just put the saddle on and off and he gets a treat. Making myself work on something consistently for ten days straight really did bring noticeable improvements. I think switching to tacking at liberty also contributed to the change. He is the kind of horse that really needs a choice if he is going to feel comfortable.

Meanwhile Grayson is slowly on the mend. He is on paddock rest and is getting pretty bored. I feel bad for the poor kid. No work for him except cleaning and medicating his wound several times a day. Joy!


  1. Sometimes it is good to push out of their comfort zone and then teach them to deal. The world does not always work out perfectly.

    I enjoyed my challenge as well- working on something from the ground every day- braiding, grooming in the field, catching her etc. I can see it really paying off.

    1. Glad to hear you found it helpful as well! I totally agree with you. Hopefully he noticed that he did not get punished, nothing bad happened and those jugs never did get around to eating him. :)

  2. Sounds like all the saddle work went well. It's good to know that even after the explosion he got back to work and realized that just because it was something different it could be dealt with.

    1. I agree! He had a good head on his shoulders. 😊

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