Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sweetwater Day 80

I  had done everything I knew to do to prepare Sweetwater to be ridden.  I have probably put in 200 hours over the last 80 days with her.   I've ponied her, driven her with long lines inside and out, loaded sand bags and milk jugs on her, sat on her bare back and with the saddle, stood in the stirrup multiple times, desensitized her to everything I had in the barn, loaded her in the horse and livestock trailers, trimmed her feet and then some, but apparently it wasn't enough. 
     Yesterday, with J's help, I tried to get on.  I had set the round pen back up in the barn and made it about 35 feet in diameter.  With J holding the lunge line, Sweetwater saddled and worked for about an hour, I put my foot in the stirrup and hopped up, sat on the cantle with my hip still on one side then stepped back down.  So far so good.  Next, same thing but swung my leg over and sat in the saddle, 15 seconds, then got back off.  She jumped out sideways.  Worked her some more stepped up and down in the stirrup until she was still again then got back on, flexed her neck left then right then got back off.
 My hope for the next step was to get on, sit until she seemed comfortable then get her to move her hip over.  Things didn't go as planned.  When I got on she immediately started jumping/bucking sideways to the right.  I remember looking down and thinking that at least I had a good grip on the pommel.  J was trying to keep her head pulled to the left and I was pulling with the left rein for all I was worth.   She then pulled the rope through J's hands and was bucking full force as we got to the fence.  She broke right and I jumped left.  I had seen how she bucked with the introduction of the lead rope, the saddle and the long lines, and I knew I was in for it if I had tried to stay on.   I landed on my face, hands and right knee, which started swelling immediately.  I'm very lucky that nothing is broken or permanently damaged.  My knee will be sore for a few days but it could have been worse.
 I think this will be my last try with her.  Maybe with hobbles and a rear leg tied up, or tranquilized (which I am not doing)  someone could get on but it isn't going to be me.  It just isn't worth the risk.  She has come a long way, just not far enough for this event.


C said...

Horrifying. Yikes, Yikes, Yikes! I am so glad you are not seriously hurt. I think you have done all you can.

Alica said...

I'm sorry she's not cooperating...but your safety is more important. Good job with all you've done, and good decision!

aurora said...

I am so sorry things didn't go as you hoped. You certainly have done everything right by her. I give you a lot of credit for even trying. Now you know. SO glad you didn't get seriously hurt! I can only imagine how you feel after all the hours you've put in with Sweetwater, besides very sore. Who knows what sent her into flight reaction. She has come such a long long way, keep in mind all the times she tried so hard for you.

Mrs Shoes said...

Glad your only scuffed & not broken.
I really hope that, instead of being disheartened, you will keep in mind that you have set this mare up nicely for the further training that she needs. It's not a reflection on your abilities that you have not gotten further with her (& I agree that this is a good stopping point for you), but the time frame is simply not long enough for this particular mare.

And I do believe that Sweetwater can be trained (in time), & that she could end up to be a very special heart horse for someone who bonds with her.
Some horses need that deeper connection more than others do, & will not really do well until they feel that deep trust & confidence in their rider, but when they feel it they can excel.

No doubt any sale should mention that she will require experienced, patient, hopefully professional training with no time frame to see her turn out as she could.
After all, with our own horses we do best when we take the "I have all day" approach rather than "got to get it done right now" -- why should a wild mustang (captured & let stand in a holding facility for 4 long years) be any different?

This is only my opinion, based on my own experience with a difficult-to-connect-with horse who, with the time & training that he needed, turned out to be a walk-through-fire kind of mount who was deeply treasured until his natural death.

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