I've been thinking a lot lately about why Eagle is currently reacting to being mounted the way he is. For me it's been frustrating to say the least, because I really didn't understand. I knew he was upset when my hubs came off of him a couple of months (?) back, but I didn't think it was that big of a deal to him. Within a few minutes, he was remounted, rode around a little bit and that was it. But today Kate left a comment with a couple of links for me to read about horses with similar issues. I've always known that Eagle's confidence is a tender thing - to be handled gently. I don't treat him with kid gloves, not for a long while now. He's one of the herd and what's expected of one, is expected of all. House rules. He gets that, he fits right in and usually has no problems at all. In fact, I think he's a very content, happy and well-adjusted horse. But in reading about these other horses, one of which was badly shaken because their rider came off, something resonated with me...yes, MH did get right back on Eagle. Where I now firmly believe we made our mistake, was that we didn't take the time to get either Eagle or MH totally relaxed before calling it good. We quit too soon, and that didn't do Eagle any good at all.
In fact, it was probably just as bad as if MH hadn't even gotten back on him at all. We left him feeling badly about the incident and then I didn't work with him for quite a while. That left an indelible mark on Eagle's brain. And not a good one, I'm afraid. I'm convinced that's the problem. So, at least I feel better because I think I understand where he's coming from a little bit better. I have some clarity and that's good. So, for me it's in the past. We're done with that - no more wondering, we're just moving forward from here.
Last night's session was fairly short and sweet. I worked with Eags for 30-45 minutes without any tack. Just walk, trot, backing, trotting over the (dreaded) poles, in and around the barrels and even tried a little sidepass. Not bad at all. We were relaxed and in sync. All good stuff. We had some issues standing quietly at the mounting block again, but in the end, Eagle stood quietly and I rubbed him and patted him all over for maybe 5 solid minutes and that's where we called it a night. Eags got led quietly to his stall and had a carrot. While he yawned and chewed on his lesson, I finished the watering and feeding, then brought everybody else in for the night. Seeing those big, old yawns made me smile all the way down to my toes... :)
Tonight, I'll be saddling Ladde up and have Eagle in hand while I mount and dismount Ladde. Over and over and over again. Lad will probably fall asleep...he's had plenty of practice sleeping while I figure out how to come aboard. I've always believed that in part anyway, horses learn by observation, just like us. I'll have Eagle in tow while I ride Ladde a little, and then work with Eags in-hand again.
It sure feels good to be working regularly with my horse again. Feels really good! I left a message for Rachel today, and am hoping to get together with her really soon. I'd like her to come over and interact with Eagle and maybe watch us work together as well.
I realize my pictures have absolutely nothing to do with today's post...I just like pretty pictures! I'm starting (sometimes) to be able to look at pictures of Annie without tearing up...progress. Baby steps for both of us.