Sept. 15, 2014
Let me start this off by explaining that not too long ago I got my wife Kori a new horse, a Fjord named Cisco , 9 yrs. old a beautiful silver bay horse, 13.2 hands great horse. This guy is registered, a very uncommon color , great little athlete who is much better suited for her since as I have mentioned she is really a tall midget at 5′,1″. We were assured that he was a great horse, ridden frequently, quite the leader, loves to explore new territory, was a great trail horse. Well maybe that horse was but somebody switched horses as this guy is chicken, scared of his own shadow, stubborn beyond belief.
So just like with any other horse, the round pen is where everything starts. Just like all of our horses, this little fellow will not be any different. After a couple of weeks of exercises in the round pen it was time for Kori to get on his back to see how he would be. Not so great but then not so bad either, he was a pretty good student not always getting everything right but usually trying to please. Wow this guy is going to be a great addition to our herd. I was foolishly hurting my shoulder congratulating myself by patting my back for being such a fine judge of horse talent. Well you know how that frequently turns out, seems like it isn’t always as it first appears. Ever hear the phrase about fool’s gold, well we were about to go on an adventure here, we just were not aware.
Kori spent over a week riding Cisco all around the pen, all over the front pasture, side pasture with no problems to speak of at all. Wow this is looking really good! Myself I would have just ridden him off onto some trails right away but I am a much more experienced rider than Kori so she wanted to take a lot more time to make sure it would be a good experience. Myself I thought he was easily ready to get out there. I am a firm believer in long trail rides with wet saddle blankets to see just what type of horse you have. But Kori wanted to take more time to insure it would be a good experience. Good idea, whatever makes you comfortable.
Finally she announces we are ready to head out to the trails with you and Scout, my horse who is fantastic in all ways (me prejudiced?, no way) so off we go to the great outdoors on fantastic trails for a great ride. Well, not really! Cisco was a little balky at first but not very bad at all but he was setting us both up. After about 30-40 yards into the forest he decides this is not something he cares to do at all, in fact he is absolutely refusing to budge an inch backing up into bushes, small trees whatever to assure that he does not have to go one step forward anymore. Now Kori really does do most of the right things to try to encourage him to move forward which is a total nightmare, the more she asks, the more stubborn he is becoming. The situation is fast getting out of control. He refuses to take a single step forward while backing up constantly. This is not a good thing at all! Kori stop trying to ride him, get down right now this seems to be escalating to a possible bad ending with your level of horsemanship right now. Protecting yourself from falling is more important than getting hurt.
She agrees saying she just wants to go back to the barn while I just go on with Scout. So she has to walk back with this horse who is now at the very top of her list, I believe you know what list. When I get back from a long ride with Scout I am surprised to see she is still outside talking with the other horses. Have a nice ride? She asks. Yeah it was great, she was fantastic how was your walk with your horse I tease her. Okay now, since some kids will read this I won’t say what she replied. Let’s just say it wasn’t very polite at all. So now I tease her that instead of trying to be a dog walker she might get some clients as a horse walker, she is not the least bit amused!
Well what did you two do after you got back I asked? Well I put the little ####### back in the round pen so I could run his butt off. It may not have been a total success as he still has a butt, however I can assure you he was danged tired when I finally let him stop. There can be no doubt in his mind that I am so mad at him.
So what that means around here is tomorrow Cisco and I will begin lessons together on trail riding. To be totally honest I really didn’t think this would be much of a problem at all. Well let me assure you that would turn out to be totally different than I had thought it would be.
The next morning I have a few chores to take care of before it is time to ride Cisco. You have to remember I am still not at all sure why this should be any big deal at all. Surely it must have something that Kori got wrong that will be easy to correct.
I go bring him out, no problem saddling him, putting on his bridle everything is just peachy. Now it is time to get on him, which can be interesting to say the least. I have ridden him a few times around in the pasture but this time will be different and I believe he senses that for sure. Okay no problem time to get all situated, no worries here at all. Now it is time to ride only he isn’t going along with this picture at all. He is absolutely refusing to budge any, not a single step. Mostly standing perfectly still waiting for me to give up and get down off of him. No way Cisco that is not one of your options! After urging him to move he takes a couple of steps only to immediately stop, once again refusing to take a single step. Well now is where I tell you we use Mecate reins which gives us a long rein with a tasseled end on it, known as a spanker. It is just some leather about an inch or so long which when applied against his neck or rear end is supposed to resemble a spanking. Remember it is very light, hurts the horse not at all but hopefully pesters the you know what out of him, a real aggravation like a pesky fly that won’t go away. Does the meaning butt stubborn have any meaning to you? He is not even the least bit amused, tensing up positive that this will eventually go away as there is no way he figures I will keep this up. Yeah well guess what fellow your life is about to take a really big change, you will be moving, like it or not. You have no idea about what stubborn is compared to me with a horse acting like you. So off we go at this amazing clip of 2 or 3 steps, Cisco stops, I spank, he moves 2 or 3 steps, wow this is fantastic riding just what I dreamed of when I got you. You know Cisco this is not going to be a very good day for either of us like this! So off we go walk, stop, walk, stop all the way out the gate, oh boy is this fun or what?
You have to understand it is about a 150 yard ride along our property to the National Forest to a great abundance of trails with soft loamy soil that go on for miles and miles. It is what I love the most about this place! Even going really slow it usually only takes about 2-3 minutes to get there. Another factor one has to allow for is this is forest type land with trees, bushes, oh yeah barbed wire fencing here, nothing anyone wants to fall on. Do things get any better? Not a chance we are now engaged fully into a battle of who is about to give up first. He tries his best to scrape me off by trying to get into the trees, into tall brush, oh this is so much fun. He tries to go into a very large brush, I pull his rein with my right hand until his nose touches his right shoulder so now he can’t go forward, only in a circle but I control this fellow whether he likes it or not. Okay now we have another element in the mix, he goes forward 4or 5 steps now, tries to back up. Whatever you would like to do my little demon horse! If you would like we can back up for miles, I have a very good seat. I am telling you this is a very stubborn horse, one who in the old days someone would have hit him hard, abusing him into submission. Even though I am very staunchly against that lots of bad thoughts are running through my head about now. We continue this stupid game for about 45 minutes inching our way to the forest trail. Several times I had thoughts like it would be easy to sell this guy as he is beautiful, he would make several payments on the ranch. Now that is something I would never actually do but the thought is comforting in my mind at the moment.
Finally we reach the forest trails so now he will just settle down to behave like a great horse right? If you think that I feel sorry for anyone too foolish for words, but the steps are getting to be more of them, taking less time than before to get him to move. Oh he is an unhappy horse about all of this for sure but not as determined as he was 100 yards ago, although it has taken almost 45 minutes to travel a whole distance of maybe ½ mile. Right now I am still thinking thoughts like “I believe they still make horse hide glue”, however he is just beginning to think that maybe this might not be so bad. Besides it must be better than all of this constant struggle, this human evidently is really hard to train plus really stubborn. Then a great thing happened he started moving along like a horse, a real horse! We rode for about two hours with very little trouble at all, we trotted, we ran, we walked along just like it is supposed to be. Life riding this guy isn’t so bad after all.
So now we head on back to our next big revelation which has not happened to me very many times at all, he insists on trying to go the wrong way back. That almost never happens! When I ride my horse Scout, I could fall asleep and she would take us straight home with no stops nor any problem at all. Now here is the very best part of this, my wife, Kori is also direction-ally challenged. Neither one of them has a chance if they ever get turned around on a trail out here in this forest. The rest of the ride back was very uneventful as he was a very good horse, a little spooky over almost anything as this guy is scared of dang near anything from birds, to squirrels chipmunks running along, dang near anything.
He is really a good horse, not nearly as easy to ride just yet but this way a very big step as we walked in without any more instances of bad behavior. Kori is waiting for me wanting to know how it went? Terrible for a long time but it got a lot better, with a lot of work he will be a fine horse but he and I will have to do quite a few rides before I want you to try to take him out.