Due to the injury I got as a result of getting bucked off, I don't feel I have what I need to get back in the saddle and be 100% ready for what ever comes next. My chest and back are much better, almost normal but every now and then if I move a certain way, I'll get the twinge and I know I'm not ready yet.
I worked on the lunge with him Monday and Tuesday as well. And I'm noticing issues popping up all of a sudden. He will pay attention and then just as I'm about to end the session, something happens that blows it all away. For instance, I lunged him Tuesday. He was really trying and doing well at just the walk and trot. I had him keeping to the circle and forward even on his less willing side. We were at it for 20 minutes and I was about to "whoa" him and turn him to me and quit when he heard a horse down in the lower barn give one of those snort/whistle sounds and I lost him. His tail went up, he got all puffed up and stupid and I had to work like crazy to keep him out of my space. Damn it! I don't need to get crowded by a big doofus and I'll admit he rattled me again.
I got him to stop and stand facing me, Then shortened up on the lunge line and began hand walking him slowly in small, 10 meter circles over ground poles and talking to him. I was watching his body language the whole time. As soon as his head began to lower and he seemed more relaxed. I halted him, stroked his neck and walked him into the barn to end the session.
Last night I opted to just groom and really study his body language and expression. He was very good about it all and then we hit another stubborn roadblock. I've been working on having him move over and give me the most space in the aisle when grooming. Today was no different and as I worked on each side and switched, I would give a firm but gentle push against his side with my hand and say,"Over". And he'd move.
Then we got to about the 3rd time I needed him to move off the left side and he stubbornly planted himself. I pushed harder and said it a little more firmly. And he leaned into me! I gave him a bigger push and firmer command and he lifted his hip at me! At that point I growled at him, the foot went down and he moved slightly but not what I wanted from him.
Then I walked to his head and asked him to step forward. He took two steps with me, I went back to the side and pushed again and asked for,"over". He didn't move as far as I wanted but he did move away more willingly and I stroked his neck and went right back to grooming.
And after that nothing else, he gave me his hooves when asked so I could clean them. Then I decided before returning him to the stall to just walk him on the lead up and down the aisle. So we did. He was willing until one of the horses pinned it's ears and banged the bars as he was walking by. And then he wanted to stop at that horse and not stay walking with me. I quickly got his head forward and urged him to walk with me, at first he balked but he was focused on me. I could see the confusion in his reaction, "do I stay and find out what the why the horse in the stall did that to me or do I just go with her?" And then he put his head down and followed me. With that I led him into the stall and gave him a good face rub and ended our session.
What I am trying to understand is why we have gone downhill so fast. Did I miss something? All seemed to be moving forward and well. If you read back a few posts, this was the horse I plucked a plastic bag out of a tree with while on his back and he had almost no reaction. Now we're back to the very beginning. I have tried to analyze the bucking incident and where it came from. I'm trying to figure out where this reluctance is coming from to trust me. And I'm not sure I have the right answers. He has so much good, but I need to understand more and we need to fix this now. I want to want to ride him again but I want to do it knowing we're a team, not that one of us is tolerating the other.
I've ridden and worked with horses for almost 40 years and never hit a wall like this with any of the horses I've been involved with. Except maybe for one. There was one young horse years ago that I was schooling for the owners of the barn I was at and was doing really well with until another, less skilled rider took him to a show to try him and overfaced him at the jumps. He dumped that rider into a few fences at that show and was never a willing jumper again. After that, even with me, he was hitting the brakes in front of jumps all over the place.
I tried everything with that horse. I went from jumping 3'6" courses with no stopping all the way back to trying to build his confidence over ground poles. As soon as the jumps went to about 2 feet, he would stop and quit all over. He's the horse who dumped me into a jump at a show without any inclination and after that I told the barn owners it wasn't worth it, I didn't want to risk getting hurt on a horse I didn't even own. I actually felt bad that he couldn't even trust me again after he was so rattled by that other fool's attempt to jump him like I had done. He was sold after that as a trail horse with clear instructions not to attempt jumping him.
Well, now I'm at an impasse again. I have called a trainer in Natural Horsemanship who's results I have seen on 3 of my friend's horses. I think I need a different direction and a new outlook and from what I have seen and heard, maybe he can give me some tools to work with that I haven't tried before. So, the journey takes a another direction.