Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesdays with Tex: In the Saddle

Tex has come so far in the past year.  I'm really pleased, really proud of Tex, and really confident that he and I can be strong partners. 

I've learned a lot about Tex; about what makes him tick; what motivates him; and what worries him.  Tex has been very open and honest with me -- and I've tried to provide the same to him.
Tex, at his core, is a pleaser.  He wants to get things right.  I mean, he really, really, REALLY wants to get things right.  It would be fair to say he's obsessive about that.  Sometimes, his worry gets in the way and this is particularly true under saddle.  In a trail situation, Tex is very relaxed and enjoys himself.  The only trail experience he has had was with the people who "flipped" him -- who had him for a few months before selling him to us.  Their focus was on creating/finishing horses to be good trail companions for their western pleasure buyers.  They were gentle with the horses, and worked with them in a positive way.  I am sure that all of Tex's experiences with trail riding were positive.  Certainly, all of Brett's experiences with him on the trail were positive.
The dynamic is completely different in an arena setting.  Before being purchased by the family who trained him for trail, Tex was a competitive team roping horse.  When he is under saddle in the arena, he is instantly worried.  Tex doesn't deal well with pressure, and it is clear to me that the pressure of his previous job did some damage to his psyche.  When I ride him in the arena, we just walk around on a loose rein and do simple stuff.  I make it easy for him to get it right.  We are taking very small, incremental steps.  I primarily focus on getting him to relax and when he does, he gets copious amounts of praise.  He flicks his ears, sighs, and drops his head. 

I'm not in a hurry to do anything more than walk around on a relaxed rein.  I'm not big on trail rides (I get bored, and tired, and sore -- an hour or so is great; beyond that I'm done) so, while I'm sure we will do some of that, it isn't going to ever be our primary focus.  We can wander all over the property, under trees, and across streams.  We both like that.  And we can do easy, successful work in the arena. 

In terms of riding goals with Tex, my secret dream is to ride him bareback.  He has a nice broad back and I love the connection I feel with a horse when I'm riding bareback.  It's how I learned to ride, and how I rode most of the time until I was an adult; its a happy place for me.  I used to ride Jackson bareback -- I even rode Auke that way, at times.  Lucy... probably not.  She's narrow and wouldn't be comfortable -- and she is soooooo sensitive and reactive.   I don't think either of us would be very relaxed and, to me, bareback is all about relaxation.


  1. Walking and praising is a great way to help him relax and try to dispel his bad memories of whatever came beforehand in arena work.

  2. o be honest, I used a bareback pad with Baasha when he was only 4 through the suburbs, but I was young, so now I cannot say the pad is a happy place for me. I have a really nice one (Barefoot brand) for Mag, and look forward to it someday.

    I remember thinking that bareback was easier, because I could grip with my legs. I had never had riding lessons at that point.

    I used to ride Baasha on baseball diamonds jumping over spectator benches, with a bareback pad, before I knew how to ride. My sister and I both. I was 18.

    I had no idea what I was doing, and was often left on the ground as he trotted down the city streets, cars pulling to the side. This was under SeaTac airport, I think you know it. I rode so close to the landing patterns, I could see each screw holding the metal of the plane together. And I rode him at a very young age through the airplane tunnel. Only need to do that once in my life! But somehow, as an uneducated kid, a bareback pad felt safer. Baasha at 4 had seen more than most horses. So it was no big deal to ride him in downtown Seattle eventually, another of my dreams.

    I love your series with Tex and Lucy.

    1. You were a wild child, Lytha! I rode bareback (no pad) and jumped over logs -- but it was in a quiet pasture not under landing planes. I've flown into Seattle a few times -- airports are crazy loud places. Baasha was a one in a million horse. No wonder you treasure those memories so much.

  3. I love that photo- he looks like he's in his happy place. Good for you!

  4. An American in TokyoMarch 29, 2017 at 6:49 PM

    Sounds like a lovely plan! And I am surprised at how much progress Tex has made because of you! I surely hope I can own a horse one day so that I can experience these kinds of triumphs, too! Woo hoo!

  5. That's a great plan for him--no stress in the arena. He'll probably love to go for bareback rides--it's one more level of pressure removed. He also seems to enjoy the connection. I bet he'll be a good one for the trails, by the sounds of it. That's all I like to do. My dream would be to get a horse so well trained that we could compete in ranch work competitions, but none of mine are up to par yet. Cowboy hates water, Leah hates opening gates...I wish I could combine the best parts of each.

  6. Pistol used to compete in competitive trail rides and can do pretty much anything. We call her Pistol, the wonder-horse. Leah is still young, I bet she will get there with time.


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