Today was the last day of the clinic. Brett and Pistol did a review of their exercises from the previous two days and then spent a good amount of time working on trot work.
Brett's goal was twofold. First, he worked on getting the walk-trot transition from thought. Secondly, he worked on Pistol's trot. Pistol has a tendency to throw her head in the air and hollow her back at trot. And she tries to break into a lope -- trotalope, as Mark calls it.
Brett was able to get Pistol to relax and carry herself in a more balanced frame by turning her whenever she rushed or braced. They had some lovely stretches of trot.
Brett said he's never enjoyed trotting so much -- no pressure and riding from thought. Mark said that Pistol didn't look or act like she is 20 years old.
It was another very successful clinic for Brett and Pistol.
Tex and I reviewed our work as well. I thought we would quickly lunge, I would take Tex to the mounting block, get on and work on whatever Mark felt we should do.
It didn't go that way.
We reviewed lunging. Tex and I had great connection and he tuned into me, getting lighter and quicker and smoother as we went along.
Then we went to the mounting block and Tex nailed lining himself up (we had also practiced that some on our own earlier).
And then Mark said, "I don't want you to get on him. He isn't safe."
My heart sank. He was right, and I knew it, but I was disappointed nevertheless.
Mark talked to me at length about how reactive Tex is; even with me. He still flinches when I touch him and he about jumped out of his skin when Mark approached him. This was after Mark worked with him two days in a row and gave him nothing but kindness.
I am looking at three scenarios.
1. Tex may have PSSM or some other medical condition that is causing him to be reactive. I am going to take him in for a complete work-up as soon as I can get an appointment. If the reactive behavior it tied to a medical condition, we may be able to manage it and he may eventually (say in six months) be rideable. ...there's a lot of "ifs" in there and, I have to say, I'm not feeling very optimistic.
2. Tex may be reactive because of his breeding. Here is his pedigree. I don't see any "repeats" but it also only goes back three generations. If the issue is breeding, there is nothing we can do.
3. Tex may be reactive because that's just how he is. Mark held his hands out, shoulder length apart, and said "this is the range of normal re-activity in horses. There is variation, but most horses fall somewhere within this range." He stretched one hand further out, the arm almost straight. "This is where Tex is." If he reacts to something, and he will at some point, it would be dangerous to be on his back. Tex isn't mean; he's a very kind horse with a ton of try. But he's a flight animal with a hyper-sensitive flight reaction.
So, if we end up with scenarios 2 or 3, I will never be able to ride Tex. I will still work with him of course. There's lots of stuff we can do on the ground and we have a good, strong bond. I don't want to lose that. I just want him to be comfortable and confident -- at whatever level that may be.
I won't deny that I was pretty depressed on the drive back home. Maybe we'll find some straight forward medical reason, maybe he'll respond to management of that condition, and maybe in six months (when all that has a chance to work), I'll be able to ride him. Maybe.