Last week, Roam got to take part in a couple of days during the retreat when the group went out on trail rides. On Friday, I took the group out West of the place through the meadow & cattle. Roam saddled up great in a new saddle, I hopped on & off we went with the group. I got on & off several times for gates & he stood for that on a loose rein each time. We took the group through the trees & over logs & he maneuvered through everything without issue. He also led the group as we walked the creek & he wasn't worried about the dogs or the horses splashing water behind him. Towards the end of the ride, I helped a participant who hadn't gotten to lope her horse much in the past. Roam was a great confidence booster for her & her horse as she got to lope him down the gravel road a mile & back alongside us on a loose rein as we did when you & I rode together at my parent's house. About a quarter through this first ride, the videographer wanted to get a scene of us loping. Another gal, who was on a bit hotter horse, & I volunteered. She went first as I allowed Roam to ease into the lope. He loped a few strides before the newly replaced & much longer saddle strings on this new-to-him saddle than what I have on my Clinton saddle bothered him. He did go to bucking & dumped me. I was fine & immediately climbed back on. He wanted to give it another try, but I stuck with him & re-gained control. We took some time to trot & lope some circles before we resumed the ride. He did great with everything after that. No bobbles whatsoever as far as silly business. He still continues to work the bit in his mouth from time to time. Once back to the place & while everyone else was putting their horses away, I spent some time working on Shoulder In/Out, Sidepassing, & the start of a Turnaround with Roam. He caught on fairly quickly with the first two but struggled more with the turnaround & offered to back up frequently. I didn't press it too much it's something that we'd continue to build upon in the coming days.
On Sunday, we took the group out again to the same area & he was pretty anxious within himself. It really didn't seem to come from an external source (the other horses & riders, dogs, cattle, etc.). I kept him busy with of Shoulder In/Out, especially to the left, as he wanted to tip his head to the left & push his shoulder to the right, something I've noticed he has a tendency to do while riding out alone as well. While everyone packed up, he got to hang out by the trailer & once they left, we went out & loped some circles in the pasture & on the place; he did well - no funny business. Monday & Tuesday, we spent a couple of hours each day out riding at all gaits, with his anxiety continuing to stick with him.
On Wednesday, when I went to saddle him up, he had a considerable cinch sore behind his elbow on the right side. I use wool buckle defenders to make the buckles more comfortable & the cinch was in good condition with nothing that should have been rubbing. I believe it's the way he was carrying himself with his head to the left & leaning with his body to the right on top of the longer rides. After treating the sore with Spurrs Big Fix & Redmond Equine's Healing Clay, I didn't feel comfortable riding him under saddle, so decided to give bareback a try so that we could continue to progress so that we wouldn't have to take a day off to get him where you'd have liked him to be upon going home. Things went well initially. Unfortunately, being such a narrow horse that really turns when he turns, he went left & I slipped off to the right. Just as before, I tell you this not to scare you or cause you to doubt Roam but to keep you informed, as it's never my intention to hide anything. Added a phone of his cinch sore taken after his bath & after spraying with Spurrs Big Fix.
Other Notes: He's continued to stand tied calmly & quietly. No pawing, no calling or looking for the other horses. Over the past month, I've had no issue catching him, even after our longer, more challenging rides. If he doesn't approach on his own, he has allowed me to walk up & catch him without walking away first, something that he did during the first half of his training. He also bathes very well & barely moves a muscle unless it's to try to eat grass. Aside from the first trip to Jen's, where he wanted to fly back out, he's loaded & unloaded well. If he shows a tendency to want to take a step back, I'm able to encourage him forward off of the halter pressure. When I unload, I make a point to work on this with him as well. Can I back him up a step & ask him to come forward again? Back him up two steps & ask him to come forward? He's always done well with this. An additional note after loading him into your trailer. It may take some consistent work of working him outside of the trailer & letting him rest inside. Try to make it your idea to have him back out & go to work around the trailer. When he offers to move towards the trailer, whether stepping on with his whole body, his front legs, or just sticking his head in, let him rest. If he wants to come off, begin to back him yourself & go back to work. Your trailer is unique in that it kind of feels like you're on a military plane with the bottom hatch open. There's not much room for him to take a step back if he feels he needs to. Instead, when he steps back, he's immediately at the ramp & at that point feels he has to commit to going off & applying halter pressure makes him feel a bit claustrophobic. In my trailer, loading in the 2nd & 3rd to front stall, he has a bit of room to adjust if need be & potentially feels a bit more secure. Something to play in your trailer specifically.
If you're going to ride him, I would probably trim his tail up a bit so that when you ask him to back up, he doesn't step on his tail & pull any out. It did add some length while he was here. This is one of the reasons that I like to keep them tied up a bit as a preventative measure.
I think there's a good chance that Roam has a gaited breed in his makeup! The way he can really walk out with little effort (different than the way your average QH walks out) sure makes me wonder!
Feeding Routine: AM: Magnify (yellow tag): 4 lbs
OMG (pinkish-purple tag): 2 lbs
Alfalux Alfalfa Cubes: 8 lbs
Please keep me posted on him. I would love to follow his post-LNH journey. I'd be happy to continue lessons if you're up for it as well.
- Lexy Nuesch