Ace of Spades
6 years old
6-year old bay gelding with two, white, rear socks and a big scar on his forehead. Tornado was captured in New Mexico on June 20th. He was brought in as a stud. When we processed him in the chutes he wasn’t as explosive as pocket. He would stare at you with this incredible intelligent eye and seemed to observe and analyze every move made around him. The castration as well as the healing process, went very smoothly and complication free.
Day one of our training started with working him at liberty in the round pen. Smart guy. He instantly figured out what I was asking of him and how to obtain that pressure release. After a bit of that I ran him in the chutes and haltered him while leaving the lunge line attached to him. Once he was ran into the round pen I started working him off the lunge line. Same deal, he figured things out very quickly and efficiently. He wouldn’t respond aggressively to pressure, just somewhat reactive and very attentive. I was even able to take his halter off and then walk up, capture him and halter him again. Day number two started up with haltering and lunge line work as well as rope desensitizing. He did great and I figured he was ready to saddle. He stood very still during the saddling process but as soon as he took his first step he blew up. More than anything he really just tried to run away from the pressure. Finally I got him to quit by calling him and waving my flag at him. He would quit for a while but then suddenly suck up and go at it again. I wasn’t too excited about that. Once he stopped for good I flagged him thoroughly and desensitized him for a solid hour with all kinds of utensils and he did fine. I saw him suck up a couple times and think about running away but he didn’t do it. Then once I released the cinches and started taking the saddle off he tried to run off again. That’s how we established our training focus; desensitization to the saddle, which we worked on for the rest of the week.
During the second week, which seemed to be rather stagnant I would just saddle and unsaddle numerous times a day, followed by desensitizing him with various utensils all over his body. His flight instinct would still be very apparent. However, when he would start to react I could bring him back to attention fairly fast and prevent a second burst. Once I would get him trotting and loping around steadily he gets used to the saddle and accepts it. Towards the end of the week I also began to pony him off an other horse. He did great and was fairly easy to maneuver.
The focus of week three was to get him comfortable with myself being above him. I would stand on a mounting block and get him to swing his hindquarters towards me and stand close by. I would flag him and lean over him until I finally got on him bareback. He did great. I would have a second person in the round pen with me that would help me move him forward. We kept it very simple. He sucked up a couple times but since I was bareback it didn’t go into a bucking match.
Week four was dedicated to ground work, a bit of bareback riding and finally saddling and unsaddling followed by ponying him all over the premise. Half the time he would do fantastic the other half he would start his running off after the cinch would get tightened. It wouldn’t be immediate and I have found that when he’s more in confinement or moving as I cinch him up, he does much better. Towards the end of the week things got really good and our routine would be nice and smooth.
The last week caused a little excitement when after ponying him out on the pastures I was going to saddle him and his old habit kicked in. That’s when the hobbles came into the picture. Initially he fought them pretty good but he quickly realized that he was really fighting himself. After letting him soak in hobbles, under saddle for a good while and repeating everything (tied up, then hobbles, then saddle) he finally gave in. Hobbles are usually a last resort method for me, which I try to restrain from as long as I can, but his running away started becoming a habit with absolutely no reason…
Further into the week we kept up our new routine and then I would start ground driving him with a D-ring running the lines trough the saddle. Walk, trot, lope, stop and turn around. I also sat on him under saddle a couple times while taking just a few steps and jumping back off (repeat 2-3 times). Ace will be up for adoption end of September.