Working with the fearful horse...
This is the second update on Keeper’s progress. If you have not read the first installment of Keeper’s story—Visit part one of Keeper's story.
Getting Keeper prepared for his first ride
I wanted to expose Keeper to different terrain and get him used to trailering off property so we headed to Reed Valley Ranch in Hemet, managed by our friends Don and Janet Moore. Reed Valley is a 835 acre working cattle ranch and perfect for providing Keeper what I was looking for.
I chose Lil' Joe to pony Keeper - he has helped me start many colts - his calm demeanor and experience gave Keeper confidence and it gave me a chance to work above him - just like I would on our first ride. We were able to cross bridges, maneuver step ups, negotiate logs, ride under trees where the branches would brush the stirrups and seat of the saddle. We rode up and down hills, through tall grass, and past cattle grazing - all great exposure and because of all the work in the round pen we did with the tarps and dragging ropes and jumping barrels - this outing was another layer added to his foundation. He was calm throughout the ride.
Time to Ride
We are taking every part of his training slow, so for his first ride - I'm having Rick pony me off his horse Lee. This way we can get Keeper accustomed to carrying my weight first without being directed. I kept moving around in the saddle - assuring him with rubs and talking to him. When it was time to bring him to the trot - I applied leg pressure with my calves and clucked - as soon as he went into the trot - I released the pressure and rewarded him with my voice and rubs on his neck and rump. He got a little nervous when going into the trot but I relaxed in the saddle and kept rubbing his neck until he relaxed - and he did. He is making huge strides - the old Keeper would have checked out when his emotions got the best of him - but now, even though he is unsure - he is trusting me and relaxes and that is what I'm looking for.
First ride was a success due to
all the preparation and taking it slow.
We still have a lot of work ahead of us - but I'm up for it - he's worth it.