All day today I could barely focus on work- mentally I was at a farm with a little gray mustang! Cello was introduced to the herd for a bit but it did not go well with one horse, who is moving out on Friday anyways, so he is currently being pastured with a little miniature donkey named Toast. They spent yesterday afternoon and night together, and are staying separate from the main herd for the rest of the week until pretty Jazzy is gone. Toast and Cello are currently enjoying a Bromance.
We started out with some arena work. Cello was a little playful with the snaffle I used, he had it on yesterday as well, but settled into it nicely today. Since I’m English predominately and he was trained Western we are taking it slow- I want bonding to happen, not confusion. The new bit and leg position is enough for now; steering wise we are neck reining with a super loose rein, and I’m keeping my leg nice and quiet. We aren’t doing anything complicated, just adjusting.
We went out on the trail for the second half of the ride, and this seems to be Cello’s forte. He perked up more and was very interested in where we were going! At one point we came across a large jackrabbit (so big when it jumped it was like 3 feet up in the air, literally) and all Cello did was perk his ears. On the way back to the pastures, the owner of the farm was shooting some ground squirrels with a little .22 from quite a distance off. He only fired a few times and was on the lookout for me and Cello returning (he could see us from pretty far away). Cello did not care about the gun at all, even though the horses in the pasture next to us freaked a bit. He was more nervous that they were upset than that the gun had made a noise. By the way, his nervous reaction was to tense up and lift his head some with perky ears. That’s it!
Cello’s response to new/scary things is to STOP. I love it! Coming from a Thoroughbred girl it is a nice change of pace. He was a little scared of the big orange tractor hanging out, but when I hopped off of him he decided to trust me and follow, after some deliberation. It was a cool feeling. These mustangs definitely don’t trust people for no reason- they are too smart. When we got back in the arena I looped the reins over his neck to see if he would keep following me, and he did! We walked a serpentine and a few circles, and he halted when I asked him verbally with no gestures. He was so relaxed that I thought we could try to see, just see, if he would lay down for us (Spencer, the owner, and his wife Dana were watching). He bowed nice and almost laid down but didn’t quite go all the way. I felt like today was a trust building day, so I didn’t ask him to do more.
Speaking of trust, that’s something I’m working on building as well. Cello is already helping me with my anxiety and various other issues. Today, when we were working past the spazzing horses and the tractor, there was an interesting moment where I decided to trust him (that he wouldn’t freak out) and he decided that I wouldn’t lead him into something dangerous. There was still some hesitancy, but it was a great start and a very obvious “click”. I think Cello is going to do wonderful things for people when it comes to many different types of therapy.
I felt like today was way productive and I left the ranch feeling great. So far we have taken it slow, but tomorrow we will ride the trail a bit more and work into cantering. I figured slower was better at first, with all the changes Cello’s been through lately and our different styles. We clicked enough today that I don’ t think I’ll be overloading him or mis-communicating, which is my biggest concern. Slow and steady we go, on little mellow Cello!
Cello & Dani