PostHeaderIcon Cisco at the Park

When I got Cisco, he had been trail ridden for three years solo on the trail.  His spook was a stop and brace his front legs.  His entire ridden life had been as a trail horse.  Cisco comes to me.  I turn him into an arena horse.  This might be the start of our third year and he has been on two trail rides as my horse in those three years.  He now is a rail or fence bound arena horse.

I decided that Cisco needs to revisit the trail.  It is nice for an arena horse to get out into the real world.  Give the horse a scenic break!    I love to ride in an arena and develop a horse.  I do like riding out in a park that has flat trails as that helps develop the gait.  Plus, I love to ride fast (when I’m not afraid).  Flat trails with no nasty steep hills to slow me down makes me a happy trail rider!

Today is the day.  There is a flurry of fear in my brain.  Memories of the good ole days prior to fear come to mind.  I rode Velvet, Sage and JR on many solo rides at the park.  Then I had a horse that broke my confidence, name not to be mentioned.  I fought my way back, except for this one remaining piece of riding.  My and my brain have little chats today on the way to the park.

I unloaded a very worried Cisco.  There are horse trailers here, but no horses.  They are all out on the trail.  Since horses are a prey animal and a herd animal, they like to have horse company.  Cisco is all alone in the world.  He even forgot somewhat that I existed.  I am his anchor and his safety, but he forgot that early on.  He is not out of control.  He is wonderfully in my control, but 90% of his brain is focused on the landscape.  He is looking for lions, tigers and things that will kill him.  Ten percent of his brain knows I exist along with the rope attached to my hand.

We go on a long trek.  His job is to keep moving and do what I ask.  His job is to side pass, back, do half and full circles.  We even walk through a mucky place.  While I’m trying to keep my boots from being sucked into the muck, he gets a little to close and gets me a little off-balance.  Thankfully, I survive.  I walk nearly a mile and Cisco runs nearly three miles, in circles around me.  Finally, as we are getting close to the parking lot, two horses appear on the trail.  Cisco and I wait for them and he instantly relaxes when they get close.  We follow them back to the trail head and he is a happy relaxed horse that probably has 80% of his brain on me.

Now there are horses in the parking area.  Cisco is calm.  I get his bridle on and mount up.  Hmmm, he’s not as relaxed as I thought.  We went over near two horses and riders.  They were practicing side passing.  Cisco and I went into our “square exercise”.  This allows an excited horse to move plus it forces the horse to go left-brained to think.  We go forward, side pass, back, forward and side pass, making a square.  There is no relaxing in this excited Cisco.  His head is up and I have maybe 30% of his brain.

After a while we do hindquarter and forequarter turn.  We make it over to the gravel road parking and chat with one of the riders.  In not too long, I decide that we can now ride up and down the gravel parking road.  I might have 40% of his brain now.  We ride up and down the road, chat with some other riders and I decide I have a majority of his brain and enough control to be safe.  We head out to the trail which is in a large wide open field.  Well, some of his brain deserted me and he takes a while before responding to any rein request that I give his head.

Here are solutions to getting control back when the horse forgets that a human is on his back.  We walked up and down in the field doing serpentine.  Serpentine allows him to respond to my rein request and gives his brain back to me.  We do “S” turns up and down the field.  We also start the million transitions.  We take ten steps forward, stop and back.  We repeat this a million times and his brain returns.  He is a bit grumpy about the backing part, which forces his brain back to me.  We do a few circles, but circles didn’t really get his brain to think about me.  The success of the serpentine and the million transitions allowed me to return to the safety of the parking lot with the other horses.

We spend time chatting with the horse people again and gaiting up and down the gravel parking lot road.  Probably about fifteen minutes went by and I decided Cisco was with me about 60% and we went off on the trail again.  We went about 2 miles and returned.  Oh my, he is a “go horse!”  He goes.  He wants to see what is ahead of him.  He constantly looks at the large fields beside us to see if there is anything to be worried about.

There are a lot of bike riders out today.  He isn’t a bit concerned about bikes, cars or trucks.  We did have one smooth sidestep startle and a lot of forward energy.

I have committed to doing this seven days.  It will get better every time I go out.  I might end up with nearly 90-100% of his brain by the time we do this seven times!

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