I went to my second Robbie Potter clinic this weekend. It was fabulous! We (Merlin, Wally and I) all learned a lot. Robbie loves to deal with a problem horse and Merlin’s various issues presented themselves at very opportune times, beginning, again, when Robbie first pulled in to the parking area. Merlin who was tied to the trailer, was setting up to sit back on his haunches and pull a mule. Robbie jumped out of his truck and stopped that from happening … that time! He did it again later in the morning when I came around the side of the trailer with a lead rope in my hand. You might have thought it was a cobra for all the pulling and rearing he did. Unfortunately, this led to him not loading when we were ready to leave that evening (I’m sure he thought that the cobra was now in the trailer). We managed to get him on the trailer, but he did the same thing the next morning. This is a horse that has never given us a problem loading. Robbie fixed the loading problem Sunday morning. It was beautiful to watch. When it was time to leave on Sunday, it was pouring rain and thundering. Merlin all but ran into the trailer and stood there until I got him hitched in.
On Sunday, he did some round pen work with three of the horses, Merlin included. It was essentially the same exercises I did with Merlin several weeks ago that stopped him from turning his butt to me when I tried to catch him. Merlin remembered that exercise and continued to present his front end to Robbie whenever he asked for it. He did it in the arena which was much larger than a round pen, so Robbie did his work on horseback. The other two horses in with Merlin were a Walking Horse that was even more problematic than Merlin and a big Paint horse. Everyone thought the Paint horse was going to be the boss horse, but it was Merlin who ran the show with the loose horses. Afterward, Merlin gave me some issues catching him which gave Robbie the opportunity to fix that problem (again).
Sunday morning I noticed that Merlin had some small chafing on the corners of his mouth. That baffled me because I had been using the same bit and bridle for weeks now. At lunchtime on Sunday when I took his bridle off, I noticed the chafing was even worst so I asked Robbie about it. He told me not to worry about it and that it would go away in a few days time. It was there because I was finally learning to use the bit to control his feet.
Merlin is an excellent trail horse and I think that’s probably all he’s ever done is ride on trails. He just goes and not much rattles him on the trail, but when I ask him to move his feet in a manner that he is not accustomed to, he turns into a crazy horse. In time, he softens and settles down, but it doesn’t take much to get him worked up again. In time, he’ll get soft and stay soft, but it’s going to take a good amount of time. Robbie told me Sunday afternoon that he has the potential to be a really good horse OR a really big pain in the ass. He also said he was quick as a cat … an electric cat and he’s right. He almost went out from underneath me several times over the weekend.
On the ground, Merlin can be very difficult, especially if you try to do anything on his right side. If you continue to try to work on his right side, he backs up, rears or tries to run you down. We worked a lot on those issues this weekend. We also worked on his bridling issues. Now it’s my job to keep up with what we accomplished this weekend AND use what I’m learning with Merlin to bring Al Bin along.
We wanted to bring Al Bin on Sunday for a private lesson with Robbie, but we decided there would be no way we’d get Al Bin on the trailer especially given that we were loading in the dark. After the trailer loading lesson I received with Merlin and then observed on Sunday with another horse (who was much worst than Merlin) I think I can train both horses to load into the trailer, on their own and stand still until I hitch them in. That’s key given that we have a stock trailer (one without a divider down the middle). It will be tight getting in there with two horses standing side by side. It has to be their job to get into the trailer and stand still.
Horses are essentially lazy creatures and if given the option of working or being able to rest, they’ll choose to rest every time. My timing sucks and that’s something I need to work on. Also, I tend to ask for too much too soon. I’m sure that’s nothing more than human nature. My farrier is quite versed in natural horsemanship techniques. I got to see one of her horses (a desert-bred Arabian) this weekend. The horse is beautiful and wonderfully trained and my farrier is an excellent rider. She’s coming over Wednesday afternoon to trim Al Bin’s feet and she’s promised to spend some time with me and both horses when she’s here. The plan is to get Al Bin loading well and then start to take him on short trips to other farms where I’ll do some work with him there and then put him back on the trailer and take him home again. I don’t know that Al Bin has ever even been off the farm we got him from. If he did, it was a long, long, long time ago, so he’s seen nothing. It’s like working with a two year old colt.
I won’t be doing anything with the horses today. I need to catch up with what I didn’t get done over the weekend. We are planning on going to another clinic the end of May. Hopefully I’ll be working by then and if I am, I’ll definitely ask for both Friday and Monday off. These clinics are exhausting. I was in the saddle for about nine hours on Saturday and six on Sunday. Amazingly, I’m not all that sore.
The clinic hosts were wonderfully gracious and the facility was beautiful! I look forward to returning in May.
Our last lamb was born yesterday. I’m glad that’s done. Now I have one more goat to kid today or tomorrow; then one more the end of May. I can’t wait for the one that’s due this week to get into the program as I need more milk. I guess I got the new calf a bit too soon. We brought Buster to the processor last Monday. He dressed out at 201 pounds which is pretty good for an eight month old Jersey calf. Hopefully Spot will do as well. I felt bad for Spot and the two goat kids on Saturday. They had to go over 12 hours without their bottles. They were starving when we got home. By May, they should all be close to weaning so it won’t be an issue.
Off to check to check the sheep to make sure they didn’t wash away in last night’s storm.
Until later …