Will I Ever Get the Partnership Thing Down?

I’m not referring to my spouse. We’re pretty good, even when we’re grumpy. I’m talking about the horses, yet again, mainly Apache. How many years have I been trying to get the whole leadership thing down with him? Six, eight? A long time.

He’s pretty, though. Here he was pretending not to realize I had a halter in my hand.

Oh, we’re making plenty of progress, for sure. I’m a better rider and he’s a better horse in so many ways, thanks to our lessons. And it hasn’t even been a year yet since we started back up learning from others. Breaking bad habits takes a long time.

He’s in good shape and gets along well with others, such as T. Drew is just glad they let him stand near them.

I’m just hard on myself, as any of you who know me in person would confirm. So, when Apache completely fell apart over at Sara’s on Friday and put us both in danger, I blamed a lack of leadership skill on my part. Why didn’t I widen the reins more, relax my legs more, bang my leg harder?

The horse, on the other hand, was back in his old home pasture, near his favorite horse friend (Spice, Sara’s retired previous main horse), and not interested in Suna at all. He was also not noticing the new fencing going in, nor the open holes for fence posts. I knew Tarrin would want me to keep working with him, but I also know she wouldn’t want us in danger, so I got off.

Here at our ranch, Apache loves T. Don’t tell him she’s leaving soon. Luckily he also likes Mabel.

Once I was safe and over being annoyed, we decided to walk back, with Sara riding along. It was good for Aragorn, who is also having his own interesting issues. It’s always something!

What’s weird is that Apache acted all rude and pushy, plus refused to back up (which he’d been doing in the saddle, too, for unknown reasons). But the moment we got past the cattle guard and headed home, he relaxed, slowed down, and walked at my side like an equine gentleman. We stopped to talk by our gate, and he stood quietly at my side, not even trying to eat when Aragorn did. Huh.

I’m just here eating my moist food. I’m gaining weight!

Today I went out again. This time I groomed Apache by the tack room, not the new trailer. He seems to not like the trailer, intensely. That at least started us out calmer. And I have to say, he did great at all his schooling stuff, even leg yielding. He jumped, too, in his way. It needs work.

We rode through the front field, too, turning and not heading back immediately. If I had stopped there, I’d have had a good day to make up for Friday. But, I wanted to go in the small paddock to do more leg yields. That required us to pass these horses’ asses.

The cool kids being cool.

All Apache wanted from then on was to go to them. He repeatedly tried to go in the pens, out the gate he came in, or anywhere except where I asked him to go. He got pretty insistent and started hopping. I had no urge to get bucked off into a fence pole or pen. I got off.

Vlassic wondered if Apache “won” and screwed up the relationship again.

I promptly converted his reins to a lead rope and marched him off for ten minutes of ground work. Whee. I hope he enjoyed the figure 8 at a trot, the serpentine, and the repeated stopping and backing up. At least he backed up a few steps. He got to go back in the pasture only after the other horses had headed out to graze. Well, I try.

Drew also tries to make friends with the other horses.

I’m just so grateful for Drew. We had a very nice session and worked on all his skills. He followed all my gait changes (I got in a fine workout with all the trotting on lead line). He practiced standing by the mounting block. Ah. And we just had a nice, long walk and chat together. He’s a joy to work with and I credit those months of training!

Back a few steps, I guess, but I’ll get there. I’m not a failure even when I feel like it. Just a work in progress, trying, failing, and trying again.

Every day you get to start again.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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