It's been an emotional summer, and the one highlight was the advancement with Ringo I was having on my own. And then the bucking started. And then I couldn't even get on him anymore because he would buck before I even committed to mounting. And so I'd go home and cry because it was so metaphorical for what was happening in my life....a seemingly well put together creature completely falling apart.
Then Cam and Laurie Shriver came to the ranch. I honestly thought I'd just pick their brains and send him off to a trainer for a bit, but Cam offered to take a look at him one afternoon. And true to form, Ringo gave them a good show - bucking like a mad man after some ground work once I'd let him go after trying to mount.
Cam saw a terrified horse that had accepted me, and had been tolerating me to a certain degree, but at some point couldn't
- and that translated into his violent explosions. The reason he hadn't bucked during any rides was because I was engaging his body at that point and it had relaxed him...but until that happened Cam recognized how guarded he was, especially when mounting. So he decided we needed to teach him to accept outside pressures and yield to them.
First we did a lot of ground work, much of which was a review for him, but many things were new. We concentrated on a lot of bending.
To begin giving him a choice, Ringo's back leg was tied up and dallied to the saddle of another horse. He kicked like crazy, but eventually settled down. Then Cam worked him until he would back to the leg pressure. And had me get on-first by laying across the saddle, then swinging my leg over, getting down, and repeating. I was a nervous wreck.
Then he had me walk Ringo off. He did well. Cam had his back leg and I knew he had control, but Ringo never tried anything.
We repeated the lesson the next time, and this time we trotted out and Cam gathered in the rope so I was riding solo. Ringo started to feel like he was a few weeks ago. Plus he had started to relax when mounting.
I always felt like if I could just get him to drop his head when mounting he'd translate that relaxation into so much more. Cam.said I was correct in thinking that, but that Ringo is such a strong horse, both mentally and physically, that all I was doing was pushing him to a threshold, and that I needed to be softer and more sensitive to the horse-namely I needed to get him to trust me, not just tolerate me. And that his strength needs to be harnessed and used, or that it would continue to be a problem. But that this is the type of horse that makes the best mounts when trained right.
We have a lot of repetition and consistent work to do still, but if I can use that strength and Cam's advice, I think I have something special in this horse. I always felt Ringo had the potential to be something good, because of how he moves and looks, and Cam said it before I even offered it up...that he was flashy and a fancy mover, and could really get going well and was athletic as hell.
At the end if the day yesterday I was cantering him and rolling him back into the fence at a trot. Today we were rolling back from a canter and then picking it back up in the opposite direction. We still have a ways to go with relaxing while mounting, but it is significantly better.
Amazing what a week can do with a professional. I may still send him to a trainer locally who follows the same school of thought as Cam, for miles and consistent continuation once school starts. It's crucial to continue these first 30 days or so, or Cam feels I'll have to start over with him in building trust. It was truely amazing to have this all put into perspective.