Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reminiscing

Bacardi's second gotcha day is fast approaching (along with Yankee's "back to riding day-- FRIDAY) and it has me pondering during the slow moments in life. Driving to work. Sitting at work. Driving home from work. Laying in bed at 3AM. Running because you signed up for another tough mudder.

First time ever riding him
First off, I can't believe its already been two years. To years wit dis wild child dragon beast, and I will admit it has been challenging. I don't know how many of you have been around since I first got him, but he was troublesome from the start, refusing to load on the trailer home.

"is that a....trailer??"
He then proceeded to kick my trailer door in and panic the entire 3 hour drive home and then wouldn't unload when we actually got home.  WHOMP WHOMP. Then, I couldn't catch him for a week so he looked feral to boot.

Wouldn't come in so he got to eat out of a bucket in the field.
Don't even get me started on how hard it was to get him to gain weight. Truly a disaster. I dumped more money in this horse than I have into my own damn self for medical expenses.

One week after owning him he nailed a kick to my leg so bad I was sidelined for months from any kind of physical activity at all. Awesome right?

Top 3 months into ownership, bottom 8 months.
Then, he was horrific to ride. If you remember the days when you thought he might actually kill me, then you've heard the stories. At the time, I never saw it as scary, only frustrating as all hell. Now I'm like, WOW. Woowwwwwwwww. I literally could have been killed so many times.


Like literally every time I rode him, he was a terrible asshole. Riding in the winter was out of the question. I don't think I was truly happy with him  under saddle until after I moved him to EME which was only Sept of last year.

Right before he reared and bolted. 
Awkward jumping is awkward.
Then in the spring we travelled around a bit. He refused a lot of jumps, threw a lot of tantrums and essentially was an absolute nightmare still 95% of the time. He reared, bolted, bucked, kicked. Refused to load, stand, come when called, be pleasant at all or show any kind of affection. He spooked constantly and I'm confident he thought everything was going to kill him. One time, I thought it would be a good idea to bring him to an event as a NC and he showed me how wrong I was on that one.

See; fire breathing dragon and me dying trying to keep him from bolting
Strangely enough, I still loved and believed in him I defended him against the haters and kept working with him. I intentionally was so slow with all his training, intent on keeping it positive and reoccurring. Hey, it works with Yankee right? He's a fucking saint and also used to be a demon.

I finally had him loading on the trailer when he flipped out (literally) and whacked his face open to the bone. Cue 3 steps back in trailer training. So we did approximately nothing all summer until I moved him to EME in Sept.

The change was slow but sure.

Personally, I think the arena helped him immensely. He has this brain that is never shut down and constantly spinning in overdrive. The walls of the arena seem to channel that energy and he was slowly making improvements.

There were still tantrums, violent ones, but they were less frequent. He was learning that jumps weren't evil (usually) and seemed to learn to love it.


One of my all time fav pics
I was even starting to love riding him! I also was no longer worried i might actually die riding in an open field and even braved it a few times over the winter!


We even went to a show! IN THE WINTER. And it was fun as shit. And we got satin. 

"IS that a ...trailer??"


We worked sporadically over the winter, because of my work schedule and his ability to ...*ahem* lose focus and his shit on the reg when the mercury drops below 30*...but it was sold work. Foundational work. Little by little.
Sometimes I was incredibly discouraged. Like, wow my horse is backing up the entire length of the arena losing his shit for the millionth time this week, cool. Or goddammit B you've jumped this crossrail 76006454 times, why are you now putting the nope brakes on this one time? 

But I kept at it, because I knew he was special.

Sometimes I didn't want to. Sometimes I really hated him. Like why wasn't he JUST EASIER to deal with. Why. LIKE WHY. Even Yankee on his worst 4 year old day was not half as bad as B on a good 5 year old day. Or 6. Or 7. 

I firmly blieve in the saying that the most talented are the most difficult to work with and it won' be easy.

Yesterday though, I had such an incredible ride on him. It started off pretty shitty and I kinda slumped over thinking GOD DAMMIT WHY, again. Why is jumping so hard for him some days? But then I worked on something else and he gave me 110%.

I was asking for counter bend on a 10 m circle at the walk and he flexed like BAM and it was magical.

I know you're saying "wow, monica, counter bend how amazing *rolls eyes*"...but you don't get it.  A year ago, if I put my leg on him, he would bolt. Yes, bolt. Wildly. And rear. Fly backwards. All at once. Its possible. Now he accepts the contact, swings his ribcage over and steps under himself. Its incredible.

Then, I got a wild hair in me and practiced some canter drill work. I would asked for the canter from a walk, 20m circle then head down centerline. Really focusing on staying straight. Then, we would come to a halt through the walk. Back 6 steps and canter off on the other lead.

B executed it flawlessly. I am serious, it was amazing. I almost fell off the first time he backed neatly 6 steps, waited calmly, then canter off still on the contact and rocked forward into a perfect halt to canter transition.



Then did it 8 more times. Then jumped the problem fence with no issues. I hopped off, hugged him and cried. He just looked at me like, "wut, I waz good, cookiez now plz".

Total transformation. Every ride these last couple of months actually have been so incredibly different forma year ago, I could cry.

Sometimes I still question purchasing him, but more and more often, I feel no regret whatsoever. He comes to you in the field now, loads on trailers, no longer tries to kill vets, clips (this is a big one), trail rides, snuggles and is all around awesome. 

Training my dragon is going well.

6 comments:

  1. Oh man, those are the moments that make it all worth it :D

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  2. The progress of him, physically and training-wise, has been nothing short of amazing to follow. So happy for you both that you are in such a good place.

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  3. :-) I feel this one. It takes so much time and patience.

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  4. This post filled me with warm fuzzies - thank you for writing about Bacardi! You've given me so many good posts to think about in context of my own wild red beastie and it's been really encouraging to watch B come into himself. You've done amazing work!

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  5. Yay I love to hear the dragon is doing good! I am currently dealing with a fiery dragon and luckily haven't gotten to the frustrated part yet. Hoping we go back to good boy territory before I lose my focus

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  6. I've been here since the beginning and you know I'm a fan. You've done an incredible job with him and should be proud!

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