Thursday, July 5, 2018

Second Training Weekend, Part 1 (6/2/18)

The Posse's 40-hour training is broken up into two very long weekends. Well, they're typical weekends, but they feel very long. There is a lot of training and desensitizing that has to go on in order to be patrol-ready. I had high hopes of being able to ride in the second weekend training. I knew we wouldn't get certified, but Skeeter had been doing so well, I thought I'd at least get to ride in warm-up and maybe in formation.

I was so, so very wrong in thinking that.

Skeeter loaded into the trailer pretty nicely (for her), but when we got to the training arena, she lost her mind. She stepped off the trailer, looked around, and said "oh, fuck no. I'm not doing this again!".

Suddenly, things that we've been doing for years were impossible for her to do. Her stress and anxiety were off the charts and the only think I can think of is that her last trip to the training arena had been so stressful that she just couldn't function.

I tied her to the trailer and she could do nothing but pace. I groomed her and attempted to saddle her any way. It was like she'd never seen a saddle before. I got the saddle on the first time, but couldn't get it cinched up because she was moving so much. I tried untying her from the trailer, so she wouldn't feel too confined, and she had to move her feet. And, boy, did she move her feet! She hasn't bucked with a saddle since she was first learning to wear one. Lucky for me, my saddle is light, so I was able to hold onto her lead with one hand and pull the saddle with the other.

I moved her feet a lot, doing lots of turns and transitions, in an attempt to get her to focus on me. After a few minutes, she calmed down enough for me to saddle her a second time, but she was not happy about it. Though I was able to saddle her, I decided it was not in my best interest to attempt to ride her, so we settled in to watch the goings-on.

This was her "happy" face for the weekend.
I'd like to say that the weekend got better, but that would be a lie. She had moments of not-so-bad, but mostly she was anxious and upset all weekend. Part of me wanted to pack it in and go home, but I wasn't about to give up. I don't know if that was the right decision, but I made it and stuck to it, so we both got to suffer through the weekend.

We found out that she hates it when trucks fart at her (air brakes releasing). The water truck wasn't scary, but the farting was and she about turned herself inside out every time.

Then the med-evac helicopter came for a visit. Helicopters fly over our place occasionally, but they never seem to bother the horses, so I thought she'd do okay. She didn't mind at all while it was flying over, until it was time for it to land. She did pretty well, actually, just had to move her feet and circle around me once or twice as it was landing, but no big explosions from her. I wanted to hear the presentation from the helicopter team, so I put her in the round pen and let her be.

When the helicopter left, I went to fetch Skeets out of the round pen only to find that she had rolled in it and slipped it off to the side. I took it as a good sign that she relaxed enough to roll, even if it meant she scuffed the hell out of my cheapo saddle.

It had been a big day, and we still had hours to go, so I stripped her of the saddle and put her in her pen, where she could watch what was going on in the arena, but not be forced to join in the festivities. With her safely tucked into her pen, I could join in on the activities on the ground, where I learned a lot about escorting and controlling people from horseback.

We finished the night with fireworks. The posse horses did great, and Skeeter watched from the safety of her pen, though she refused to eat or drink until I went and sat with her for a while. Once I saw her finally calm down enough to eat, I felt comfortable leaving her overnight while I went home.


Linda said...

At least you were smart enough not to get on her. I had a similar day last week, but I was silly enough to think riding it out in saddle was a good idea. It wasn’t. Gotta respect the signs.

Momma Fargo said...

Oh those days when they don't want to play are frustrating. Sounds like you handled it very well. She will slide into things over time and those moments should fade.

GunDiva said...

@Linda - sometimes I feel like a big ole wimp when I decide to sit things out, but not in this case. One or the other of us would have gotten hurt, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been her.

@Momma Fargo - I'm not sure how well I handled it, but we lived until the second day.