Tuesday, March 29, 2016

User Error

Tex got away from me last night and it was my fault.  Fortunately, he has forgiven me.

When we do the evening chores, I give Tex his squirt of ulcer paste and then take him out of the pasture where he eats his bucket with his evening dose of magnesium mixed with a smidge of sweet feed.  I take him out so he doesn't have to worry about Flash or the goats hoarding in on his goodies.

Last night, when I went into the pasture with his halter, he stepped away and made a wide "safe" circle around me before deciding it was okay for me to approach.  Hmm, I thought, he hasn't done this in awhile.  I put the halter on and gave him his paste with no flinching or resisting.  Then we went out of the pasture.  As I led Tex to the gate, I felt some resistance and turned to see Flash nip at Tex's butt as we went past.  I shooed Flash away, and out we went.

I was curious to see how Tex was feeling in his hocks so I called to Brett that I was going to take Tex up to the dressage court and lunge him a bit.  My sciatica was bugging me, but manageable, so we hobbled up to the arena.  Tex was a bit worried when I picked up the lunge line but didn't do more than throw his head high for a moment.  He was a bit more worried about lunging than he has been since the clinic.  I had to insist that he go and then he marched around nicely; not totally relaxed, but good enough.  We went left first, since it is his easier side.  He was over-stepping nicely in the walk so I asked him to trot.  He was short-stepping and didn't work out of it so after a few times around I brought him back to a walk and we changed directions.

Going to the right, both his walk and trot looked good.  He had a lot of energy going in the trot and it was beautiful to watch.  We had rain, and snow flurries, earlier in the afternoon and it was cold.  I attributed his increased energy to the weather.  I kissed to ask for canter and took a stronger step towards him; increasing my energy to increase his.  Tex went into canter but he gave me the hairy eyeball and went sideways, away from me.  Normally, that wouldn't be any big deal but when he pulled on the lunge line it went straight to my sciatic and the searing, shooting pain caused me to drop the lunge line.  It hurt too much to hang on.

Tex took off at a dead run, out of the dressage court, past the donkey pasture, around the corner and straight to his pasture with the lunge line streaming behind him.  I limped over to the side of the arena and picked up his lead line, and then hobbled very slowly to where he stood watching me.  Flash was on one side of the pasture fence, Tex was on the other.  He had turned so the lunge line was laying on the ground, stretching up towards the direction from which he had come.  As I approached, he didn't run or flinch, although his head was high.  I was able to walk up to him and I stood next to him for a few minutes, without touching him, telling him that he was a good, brave boy to wait for me.  Then I snapped on the lead rope and unhooked the lunge line.  I walked him back with me to the dressage court so I could put the lunge line in its spot -- and I wanted to end on a calm, positive note.

I took him over to the mounting block and climbed to the top.  I asked him to please not freak out because I would topple off for sure, given how badly my leg hurt.  He was good and we practiced having him line himself up at the block a few times.  Then I climbed down and took him back to his pasture.  After removing his halter, I stood with him a bit.  I wanted to make sure our bond was still solid.

So, while I am disappointed in my lack of judgment while lunging, that resulted in pushing him over the edge mentally, I am pleased that he was easy to catch and his energy came right back to me.


  1. Oh, Annette... I have sciatica, too, it's a bear. I hope you feel better soon and I'm glad your boy didn't scare you too badly.

  2. Mistakes happen. It actually showed you how far you have come together.

  3. Mark made a comment on his facebook page recently that if we never make a mistake, we never learn anything.

    It's OK to make a mistake, and what's much more important is how Tex calmed down afterwards - the fact that he was able to do that is a very powerful indication of how far he's come. Your intention was good, and he calmed down - he's not going to hold a grudge. In fact the whole thing may build your bond stronger.

  4. A fixed mistake is not a mistake. ( and yes, I did make that up just now )

  5. Mistakes happen, but I think horses understand that and forgive. :)

  6. You did the right thing going to get him and continuing with your work. He'll be just fine.

    I wonder if Tex is not a bit like Leah though. Often, when I go to lunge her, before I've done the moving of her feet with yields and bends--directional asks, she gets a bit wild. After reading True Horsemanship Through Feel, he suggested always starting close and only let them go out as far as they can go and still be on a slack lead. It has changed our work and relationship for the better--keeping her always in a thinking/directed movement mode.


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