I remember when I went to see Bob for the first time. His owner was a wary woman who seemed hesitant about selling her horse. When we talked I felt I was being interviewed.
It was obvious she was trying to determine if I was an acceptable candidate for her horse. Later I found that she had turned down other prospective buyers.
When I returned the next day to test ride Bob, his owner had initially observed me and then dropped her head and turned away.
She was crying.
I had passed the interview.
I've had Bob for almost a year. For the last three months he has been the only horse I own. Maybe it's that I've got more time to devote to this horse, but this one-on-one environment has allowed us to bond, creating a relationship I never thought I'd see again.
Bob parks himself outside my office window while I work.
Didn't take more than 3 seconds to decide that I'd rather fall from Bob than in that stinkin shower.
With Hank The Dog for company, we ventured out into the pasture. Initially only went a few steps, then we went a few more and eventually we were riding all over the pasture. It was so great...
Infact it was REALLY GREAT!! It was so incredible that when I unsaddled Bob that day our bond was even stronger.
And so starts an incredible journey - one I never thought I'd get to take again. I'm sure Barnie is looking down from Horse Heaven and nodding his head!
Ground work addressed his behavior; however, there were specific approaches in the ground work to avoid. If I lunge Bob, asking him to reverse often (as in a half circle), it intensifies his behavior. If I lunge a few laps and stop him before going the opposite direction, it settles him down and draws his focus in.
Bob had the type of background I was looking for. I purchased him and spent the last year hauling him to weekly lessons and joining my Cowgirl Pals at sorting events.
I found Bob "sensitive" when we arrived at a new location. Before a lesson I would walk him around the arena and let him smell the items that sat in the corners. Once he checked everything out he was fine.
At sorting events it was difficult. Due to parking restrictions, we arrive with only minutes to spare before we are called into the pen. Bob doesn't do well with the rushed atmosphere.
Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate tippy-toeing around my horses. But I also believe in giving the horse a chance. And in Bob's cases, he carries some baggage from someone who once owned him.