Rolling and Cypress Stables
Looking for the right spot to roll.
I've been spending a lot of time with Opal in halter and at liberty (no halter, moving at her own will) working on rolling. One reason I've been focusing on this was in Nevada she decided to roll with her western saddle on, not the safest thing to do. The reason is for a horse to be willing to lay down next to you takes a lot of trust. I've been giving Opal the 'ok' to roll by kneeling down in soft sand, a place she naturally loves to roll. It didn't take her long to catch on. Opal has not had a lot of riding this week, she's nearly leveled out again and will resume more ride time once she does.
A very happy mustang, rolling in the warm sand.
Today's adventure, a Desensitization clinic at Cypress Stables. Cypress Stables is about 2 miles from Kickin' Back Ranch and is owned and operated by a good friend Tami Daniels, owner of a mustang named Ranger. The clinic included several obstacles that might be found in trail classes, as well as a few 'scarier' ones. We started out with a warm up in the small arena working on spacing and walking 2 wide, 3 wide, and 4 wide. Opal was ok walking next to Gypsy, but once we went to a larger group and she had to walk with horses and not follow anyone. She was a bit uncertain about this. She did well for the first time, but I have some homework to do with her to help build her confidence more. She's still young and has plenty of time to learn to become more confident in herself. More miles to build more confidence.
Once we were done in the small arena, we went into the covered arena where the 'scary' stuff was going on. Most obstacles Opal was more than willing to do them. The waterfall we had to walk next to once, then see another horse go through it before she would. The road flare she wanted someone in front of her the first time, which was fine. She tossed her head a little going by it the first time, but they make noise, are very bright, smell funny, and make smoke, so her reaction was completely understandable. Her next several passes she did calmly and without head tossing. While Opal has been over green tarps and carpets, the blue tarp caused her to give out several snorts and plant her feet. With some reassurance from me, walking her around the tarp, and watching another horse go over it, she eventually did it as well. The last obstacle was blanks being shot from a gun. We started at the far opposite end of the arena and I was on the ground for this exercise. After each round we walked the horses closer to the gun being fired if they were willing to get closer. By the end Opal was about 5 feet away from the gun and standing fairly still. She would flinch a bit with the first few shots, but by the end she would hear it and not react. I'm so proud of her.
Tami was also kind enough to have her 2 horse straight load trailer hooked up to practice with. Sometimes when you need a ride at the last minute, its not always the same trailer your horse is use to. Practicing at home BEFORE an emergency situation makes for a more calm and quiet ending to a potentially emergency. Opal loaded in like a horse that's been in a thousand trailers.
Various shots from my phone during the clinic.
Opal and the flags.
Opal and the blue tarp.
Opal and the wooden box.
Opal and the waterfall.
Opal and the car wash.
Opal and the gun shot.
We had several horses from our barn go with us as well. Mustangs Sancho and Gypsy as well as Tesoro and Whiskey came for the fun. Everyone did very well. We all walked away with things to work with on our horses. It was a great day and experiences for not only our horses, but us as well.
These next pictures were taken by Fernando Mendoza and Yvette Mendoza.
Warming up before working on the obstacles.
With riders and handlers remaining calm and working with their horses to slowly introduce the obstacles in the arena, each horse was eventually able to get close to or complete each one. It is vital that when you and your mount are confronted with something that makes them uneasy that the rider or handler remain calm and focused on as safe of an experience as possible, even it that means dismounting and walking your mount. This not only keeps everyone around you safe but also builds a stronger bond with you and your riding partner.
Gypsy went through the car wash the first time mounted. She was very brave about it, but when the noodles touched her, she got scared and bolted forward causing Sarah to lose balance and fall to the ground. Sarah and Gypsy were both ok, but Sarah opted to walk her in hand the rest of the demonstration to build up Gypsy's confidence. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to go forward. After lunch we approached the car wash again, but as a team of 3. Sarah walked Gypsy up as far as Gypsy was comfortable. I held the lead rope to help keep Gypsy at a safe speed if she got scared again while Sarah slowly asked Gypsy to move up. We gave big phrase and love each step Gypsy took forward, no matter how small of a step. If she backed up, we let her but didn't punish her or use harsh words. Eventually she walked through it with Sarah both directions.
Sarah, Gypsy, and Carolynn working on the car wash as a team.