So, “Bazaconi gump” had finally stopped running. There was no doubt he now recognised me. He new ,when he was with me, he didn’t have to gallop, that was a start but there was no doubt the running thing would raise its head again.
With all the handling and a basic education on, what was my space and what was his, Bazaconi seemed to be settling whilst in my company. Race days were still going to be an issue_ more than likely for ever.
Back to the round yard. As he had settled considerably I decided to give the saddle another go, no problem, though a little anxious he stayed on his feet. When I let him go he through in a couple of bucks, not unusual with this bigger heavier saddle, then off he went, back to the gallop. This time he lasted about 10 minutes before he came to me, today was the day we were moving on.
The first thing I needed was to have his undivided attention.
This time when he came to me I sent him back out again pushed him for a lap and then sat down again, sure enough he came back. Now I could get rid of my milk create. I sent him out invited him back, sent him out invited him back. With a little adjustment of my energy levels I was able to have him walking stopping, trotting walking, changing direction, his focus was incredible no matter what he did he always had one ear on me. Often I will use a lunge whip to create some energy when working with green horses with Bazaconi all I needed was my finger. It’s imperative at this stage that the horse believes he is moving because you have asked him to ,you have to be honest with yourself as a handler, if the horse is running away from you you haven’t achieved anything. Even if the aid to go forward is as fine as raising your finger you need to believe you are making the decisions. Never underestimate how closely they are watching if you have truly gotten their attention. Horses in the paddock communicate through body language, a slight change of posture, ear position, body position even facial expression “never underestimate what they notice” all of your movements become part of the language between you and you horse, when you are with him make your language clear and concise, talking on the mobile phone whilst lunging is confusing, not having accurate control of you lunge whip is confusing sometimes even swatting at flies is confusing, if you are in a bad mood and your shoulders are tense, that is confusing. Baz wouldn’t have coped with any of these, I really needed to be on my game.
So with baz responding to my body language and now voice commands I began preparing him for the lunge., there is no better way to passively start to develop the muscles required to carry weight than by working the horse calmly and correctly on the lunge. It give you the chance to develop your voice control, asses the horses movement, pick up physical issues and develop calm tempo and rhythm.
It was also the opportunity for Baz to have the bit in his mouth and work with out having to fight.
Well, Baz was not a great fan of the bit. As soon as it went into his mouth he started to chew and grind, wrestle with his tongue, his head twisted up and to the left, that was his preferred position whilst the bit was in his mouth, no rein or riding pressure required, head up and to the left.
When I stated to ask him to accept some contact it was total confusion, now most race horses have no idea of the grey areas between stop and go when it comes to the bit. It’s very simple in the racing world ” bit off” = go “bit on” = stop,if you like. Stop, if not understood can become 50kg of angry rider leaning back with all their might. An old bushy once said to me “those track workers have hands like black fellas feet” referring to the hard calloused feet aboriginals develop from years of walking bear foot in the bush. Not particularly politically correct but it paints a picture.
I don’t think baz was there the day they learnt stop. He defiantly had the go thing down pat.
The bit was a total mystery and misery to him he twisted and turned his head trying to avoid it, more contact resulted in more twist and more again meant go harder. He gaged and worked his tongue with his mouth wide open. He really did seem to resent the bit across his tongue. I decided to try something different I purchased a bit with a large port that avoided tongue contact at all, it still worked on the bars of his mouth as required but left space for his tongue to sit commortably “hey presto mouth closed” shame that wasn’t thought of 5 years ago, once again, one size doesn’t fit all.
So, working against him had been, a poor basic education, very uncomfortable mouth, conformation that led to head in the air and hollow back, in the racing stable that equates to “that horse is a bastard I hate riding him” mmm that’s not gonna fix it.
Now Baz was more comfortable in the mouth, he had stopped fainting, he knew about my personal space he was starting to understand my body and voice language. It was time to re introduce the new bit in a new simple, understandable way. After a number of weeks of gentle instruction Baz started to get it.
He started to trust and respect me, he new I wouldn’t hurt him but he also new I was in charge of the partnership, yep, it was definitely becoming a partnership. Gradually he started to seek out the bit, recognising it was one of our important means of communication, finally he reached for it, in doing so he lowered his head and released the tension in his tangled back, it must have been such a relief. You know that feeling when you have pain some where and feel like you have to walk around tensed protecting the effected area, its exhausting you finish up angry and irritable. “Bazaconi”
End of part 3