After spending most of Saturday clearing the woods for a new fence (and a new pasture!), we didn't have a whole lot of daylight left to get to the groundwork I wanted to do. But, in spite of the quickly darkening day, my daughter and I pulled out our horses and managed to get about 20 minutes of work in.
Kayleigh (my 10-year-old daughter) has never done any kind of ground work with the horses before. She used Calypso for this new adventure and was quite thrilled with how responsive Calypso was to her. She had her backing up with the twitch of her lead rope, moving her haunches and shoulders easily just by motioning towards her and stopping on a dime. That mare was following her at a respectful distance and had her ears and eyes stuck to her the entire time, watching her every move and waiting for the next task.
The need to explain to Kayleigh WHY we were doing the things we were doing with the horses on the ground really helped cement my need to really work with Gabe on those basic fundamentals.
Calypso, while a very bossy lead mare in the pasture, really likes to have a strong leader in her person and responds very quickly and very well to even a tiny kid like Kayleigh. Kayleigh was thrilled to death and was having a lot of fun working with the mare. She said she can't wait to do it again!
Gabe, on the other hand, is easily bossed and moved around the pasture by Chief and Calypso but pushes me and other people around more than he should. I notice it with other people and get on his case about it, but as with most things, I was the last to notice he was doing it to me, too.
I never really realized how pushy he had become with me until I got him on the ground and started trying to move him around. Backing up was pretty much nonexistent when I asked him for it. Funny, considering backing up while in the saddle is our biggest safety issue - he does it when he decides he doesn't want to do something I've asked and he's dangerous about it. Instead of backing when I asked, he came towards me and nipped me more than a few times. He got smacked and backed hard and fast for biting. He kept moving into my space and trying to push me around. I can only surmise that the biting and the moving into my space was his way of telling me HE was the boss, not ME.
Which is a great big fat no go.
He refused to move his haunches or his shoulders over when I asked. That big fart stood there with his feet planted and completely ignored me. Ugh. I had to go to the stick to get him to move even a tiny bit. Hugely frustrating.
This is a different horse than he was when I first worked with him on the ground when I brought him home as a three year old. At three he was much more willing to let me be the leader and moved where I wanted him to. Which is why I never imagined I'd have these issues now.
Now, he's not so willing to let me be the leader. Somewhere along the line I've failed him, in his eyes, as a proper leader and he's felt the need to take over the role. Probably because I've let him get away with coming into my space and being pushy for the past year.
Re-establishing my leadership in this relationship is now a top priority. I'm just so frustrated with myself for letting it get this out of control and not even REALIZING it had gone as far as it's gone. UGH.