|Rocky aka Life of the Party|
I found Rocky's harness racing information online. His real name is Life of the Party and he had quite the short career! For some reason he suddenly quit racing this past March at just over 5 years old. His wins were declining, but based on his errr, sensitivity (spookiness), I tend to believe it was due to an "incident."
How do I get to that conclusion? In my stupid, human way, I thought it would be interesting to play, on my iPhone, for Rocky (yes, THE HORSE) a video of his last first place win from one year ago. You know, an indication to him of, hey buddy, I know from whence you came.
I did the horse-video-screening last night upon reuniting with him after two days away. I stopped mid-video because he was clearly recognizing it and it was NOT giving him warm fuzzies. And, I hate to report that our ride last night and a very long ride today were the spookiest and shakiest, he has been since the first rides. Bummer. I reactivated my horse's post traumatic stress syndrome.
By the end of today's ride though he was a champ.
I happened to miss a call from his owner while I was on him today so I returned it as Rocky and I were hanging out at the end of the ride. Gary was coming up to the area and wondering if he should stop by. I told him how well it had been going and of this minor set back. He's the closest to a cowboy that I've met since I've been here. His parting words? "Uhm, try and stay away from showing him any more videos, okay?" I could hear him smiling.
The bigger realization I had during that conversation was that I was talking to his OWNER and how there was a little bit of me realizing that, theoretically, he could say, "I'm coming by and picking him up." (which he didn't) And with that thought there was a bit of panic which told me how much I want to keep him.
So in the phase of a set back I need to look at the positives of today's three hour outing.
- Although he majorly balked and it took him a long time to pass a house with a leaf blowing alien monster: WE DID IT. I now qualify for riding a bronco in the rodeo, but we did it! My trick, besides being patient and letting him spend a lot of time staring at the scariness, was to react to his side-stepping, running backwards and sudden stops by making him do nonsensical circling, etc. until he decided to move forward the way I wanted him to. After 103 tries, he succeeded without being eaten by the alien.
- We made it to the island and around the island. Again, he initially acted as if he'd never crossed water, but after we moved along he acclimated well.
- I mounted and dismounted several times and he was great for me-- and I'm back to mounting from ground with no problem.
- We got all the way back from the island and had to return to get my crop and he went without protest. THAT was the turning point when I really felt the love. Then I had to dismount again and lead him through a narrow, high grass area (again) and he was like my sweet, giant dog--just right with me, second guessing me and as good as gold.
- At the end of the ride as I'm talking to Gary for a while and fiddling with Rocky-- rubbing his face, messing with his forelock, rubbing him-- he looked at me and said I love you. Well almost. He just stood so patiently and sweetly and with his eyes spoke volumes.
- He doesn't need to be tied. He just stands with me.
- He basically picks his feet up with telepathic communication. Never had a horse be that good with feet.
So tonight when my husband asked if he was really progressing like he should, after hearing the "set-back story," I unequivocally said YES. This guy hasn't been under saddle. Hasn't seen all the great outdoors while being ridden and clearly had never been on top of the world (or the bottom) with the ocean on three sides and he is coming on. Yep sometimes there a few steps back, but that's life isn't it?
Then my question was-- do you want to spend 5-10 times the price of Rocky and find me a "bomb proof horse" that is going to be the same ride over and over? Frankly, I'm loving watching him come along and simply facilitating the process.
And as we all should be doing in our relationships, I will be more mindful of "first do no harm."