Aka, Cheyenne…

Sooooo… some background.

We brought this mare for Mum at the end of 2015. She had a beef cow and calf herd and wanted a quite riding horse on hand to work cattle if need be… the need never did arrive (working dog’s…) and I think I rode Cheyenne twice in the paddock in that time frame. Both times she was lovely, but you could tell there was the potential for her to become quite hot. She was super light and sensitive, which made her great to ride but also an undercurrent of tension… 

Fast forward to the beginning of 2018, we decide that since we haven’t required her in 2 years, we had perhaps better find a home for her as she was wasted in our paddock. I brought her down to Cooroy and started to work with her…

In a nutshell, I still love her, but with some time spent with her I have also found there is more than a slight undercurrent of tension here…

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So I brought her down around February, this footage was taken the 7th of May. She has been worked on and off that entire time. Over the entire time her level of anxiety was pretty constant.

This was her first outing and the footage is taken on the second ride of the day…

 

Unpacking…

So what are we looking at?

At Cooloola:

(7th May)

Well she doesn’t look terrible does she? What you don’t see is what I am not doing… I am not asking for frame, I am not asking for anything much smaller than a 20m circle, I am not asking for anything more than; slow, down and up transitions and direct turns.

I also don’t have park… one of my clients and good friend can testify to that!!! To her credit she did a double take when I said ‘Can you hold her please? I can’t stop her safely, and I need to tighten my girth…’.

And the tied up footage: 

(8th May)

This is what she tried to do at the show tied to the float, thankfully Mum was there and she took her while I rode Greta, and she was fine being held eating grass. I wasn’t prepared for her to kill the float or hurt herself on the day… which is why I took the opportunity to tie her up at home, the next day and see what happened. Honestly I had zero idea this would happen, she has been fine in the tie up’s… so it was all very interesting. 

She spent and hour or so tied up here while I did various things and frankly didn’t improve much… 

 

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Some morals to this story:

  1. You never really know what you have until you test the waters in different contexts…
  2. You ride your horse based on how they present on the day, not how you think they should be, or based on what you want them to become or based on your human imposed timeline: HOW THEY ARE…ON THE DAY
  3. What I did wasn’t actually that difficult physically – most well trained riders could have ridden her that day, as long as you had good control over your limbs and could sit super quiet… you would have been fine. What was hard I think… what was actually the most important aspect of the ride? Controlling your ego, controlling your desire for more.
  4. Being able to read your horse and their behaviour is the difference between a good outcome and a poor one. I read this situation as what it was: she was stressed, and to keep her stress level down I had to ask for as little as humanly possible whilst also training her in some way that didn’t cause her to melt down. Doing nothing would have achieved nothing, doing too much would have induced a massive stress coping reaction (read: freaking out, running backwards, rearing, bucking…) and/or flooding (when their coping mechanism doesn’t work and they appear to become calm and compliant). Thankfully I didn’t get a massive freak out, she did slightly improved and by the end of the second ride there were moments of true relaxation…

Footnote:

  • I tied her up again, same place, 2 days after and she was great, still a little tense (bit too alert, head to high), and some pawing, but no leading, kicking, or rearing…
  • I took her to the Working Eq training day on the 20th of May. Safely tied to a tree and when her friend left: No problems, fell asleep and ate her food. Also two more riding sessions. We had a solid park and relaxation in walk in the first session. Second session she started to chill and be ride-able in all 3 paces… 

We are starting to crack that learnt anxiety… thank god! Of all the horses I have worked with that come with anxiety problems, she would so far have taken the longest to get some chinks in her armour… She is also a horse I am planning to keep long term now, so I am looking forward to charting her progress from the beginning all the way through… :)