12.06.23: A Heated Discussion

Since Jim was out of town I was feeding horses, so I had to head over and get that done to start my morning. I arrived back home to find that the horses had JUST made their way out through the chute into the back pasture. I dread having to bring Storm in from out there because of the challenges that it poses with the other horses potentially running to follow, and the horse you are leading not wanting to go through the chute in the first place. I got all the tack ready and made the trek to the far reaches of the pasture and found Storm and Winston hanging together. I told Winston that he needed to keep the herd here, and that Storm and I were going to go. I told Storm that when he gets upset it scares me and has nothing to do with what is in the environment and that it is not nice to scare me. 
We began the long slow trek back and I took my time trying to make sure I managed my emotions and feelings as we went. We got about forty feet away from the chute and Storm decided to pick a fight. I felt him getting worried, and so I turned to face him and walked backwards. He stopped and attempted to rear/spin sideways. I was prepared for something, and had a reasonably short hold on the rope, though with plenty of slack for him to not feel trapped. I was ready, and kept my right hand tight in to my side, and wrapped the rope across my body at my hips, and held my left hand almost behind me to create more resistance and dropped my weight down to lower my center of gravity. He came down with a grunt and squeal of protest. He flung his head up in the air and I flipped the rope so that the clip smacked him on the side of the nose and redirected his attention to me. He stood for a moment before repeating the process, attempting yet again to rear and spin. Again, I pulled my hand in, braced the other hand behind myself and dropped my center of gravity down. He danced around a bit, and I gave him another flip with the rope, and brought his attention back to me to focus. He stood still giving it more pause this time. We repeated the process another few times before he stood for a minute. I asked him to drop his head, which he did, and licked a little bit. He was still agitated, but I felt that I had been through the worst. I was rattled, and told him so, and that it was his fault, not anything happening. I told him the chute was fine and wasn't going to hurt him in any way, and that we had to get through it. He danced left to right a little more, and I was careful to keep myself between him and the chute so that he couldn't get around behind me, and we slowly, step by step approached the chute.
As we got up to it, he began to hustle a bit, and I could see the horses behind him moving around a little bit. I really did not want to get caught in a stampede if they decided to come roaring through after Storm. Gratefully they didn't, and we carefully hurried our way through the chute without going too fast. I still walked backwards and he had to mind my pace, but we got through as quickly as I could muster. Then I made the long slow trek up the hill through pasture 2 and into 1 walking backwards all the way. The closer to the top he got, the more relaxed he was, and by the time we reached the gate, he was his usual Joe Cool again. Meanwhile I was still coming down off of the adrenaline. 
I got him tacked up without too much protest, and collected all our various parts and pieces and headed down to the arena. It was cooler than it had been and since we had the arena all to ourselves I put him on the 45' and sent him out to work a little. We started off to the left and once he established his circle I bumped him up to a trot. I forgot my timer, so I couldn't keep track of how long we had been working, but he was really struggling getting his head down. I left him out there for a while, and as he began to make some good changes for several strides, I asked him for the canter. It took him a long time to get into the canter, but eventually he slipped into it without any fight or fanfare, and had a very nice gait. He didn't hold it for long, so I allowed him to come back down and trot for a while more before asking him to go back up to the canter again. He made another nice transition and so I allowed him to trot again after that, and he was doing much better after the few transitions than he had been before. I noticed he was breathing a bit heavy, and allowed him to come down to the walk and change directions to work to the right.
After he settled into the circle I asked him for the trot, and he picked it up without too much fuss. Again, he was not traveling so well, but was working on putting his head down and trying to make a change, it just seemed like he was working pretty hard at it. I allowed him to work on it for a while until he finally started to get some shifts, and then asked for a canter. He worked really hard trying to find it, and first came out with a left lead canter despite going to the right. He came back down and I gave him a few laps at the trot before asking again. Once more, he sped up and tried very hard, but couldn't organize himself to get a right lead and ended up doing some odd four beated gait. He came back down and I asked one more time, and again got a bizarre pattern of foot falls that I don't even know what it was. I left him to trot for a while, and despite not finding the correct organized canter, he gave me a better trot. Since he was breathing pretty hard, I allowed him to settle down and walk when he chose to. He walked for a lap or so before I brought him to a halt and we headed over to switch out the gear. 
I got his reins organized and checked the saddle before taking him to mount. At first I didn't think he was going to bring me the saddle, but he reorganized himself a bit and offered it to me. I climbed up and he waited for a minute while I got organized and tried to find my space. I did not feel as grounded as I had the day of my lesson, but I was feeling more than I had on previous rides. I noticed that Storm was still breathing fairly hard so we took it mostly easy and just walked. We set out working to the left and he was still doing the pretty heavy dumping on the forehand that he had done in my last lesson. It seemed that I could regain control of him better if I kept him moving rather than having to haul him to stop while he was titanicly grounded on his forehand. I will have to experiment more and see where I can get. I think I tend to forget my breathing in those situations, so that might help to bring him to a halt when he's that far onto his forehand. 
We switched directions and I had a much easier time of it. I am not sure what is going on that he struggles so much to the left while I ride but not from the ground and the opposite to the right. We worked a little more to the right and then finally called it quits. His breathing still hadn't normalized, and so I figured it was best to quit early than push it. The sun was really warm, but the shade was comfortable, but he was obviously working hard. It was a bit on the humid side, so he was probably working pretty hard even though it didn't seem like it.
I climbed down and found that he wasn't very sweaty anywhere except where the saddle was. I was not pleased do discover when I took the saddle off that he was mostly dry under his shoulders, even more on the left than the right, and the rear and flaps of the saddle were fairly wet. Nancy tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he was too wet in the other areas for him to have not sweat under the front of the saddle. Either he's out of whack, I'm out of whack, both, and/or the saddle isn't fitting anymore. I guess we'll find out in the next few weeks - Jeffra will be here and then two weeks later Kirsten is back again.
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