Meet Brandon. He is an Old English Shire and my new love. No I do not own him but the lady that does has given me the go ahead to play, train, and show with him. I will be changing disciplines again as I am going back to my first love Dressage.
I have been learning alot about myself and him. We started the end of August with just getting to know him. A couple dates a week, Wednesdays after work and on Saturday evenings. Grooming was the main event for 3 weeks and one day his mom said she wanted me to sit on him and see how he handled it. Brandon hasn't been ridden in 4-5 yrs. I climbed up on a Saturday night and that was it. We started in the round pen that following Wednesday.
I have never done ground work before so it was interesting to do "Join Up". For those of you who don't know what Join Up is...when your in the round pen and you have the horse walk, trot, and canter for a time and then stop and turn your back on them. If they trust you and want to be your partner, they will walk up behind you and stand. If not they will stay on the ring wall. Monty Roberts explains this way of connection and bond very well in his books. Yes I have read some of them. I have never actually gotten the chance to actually try it.
Brandon and I bonded over grooming but I didn't realize how much until the join up. Now when I get to the farm, he is in the pasture and comes quickly into his stall and waits for me. He even calls to me with a few different ways, including kicking the stall door. He puts his head down for me to put his halter on and follows me to the grooming area.
In the round pen we get out there and I take off his halter. The minute I do this he now walks out to the ring wall and starts to trot without being asked and then goes into his canter. Its quite an amazing thing for a 17.1h, 2000lb beast to just do what you would like him to do without being asked. He then stops, comes to the center for a kiss on the nose and then I send him out to go the other direction. He comes back to center and we get ready to ride.
We are still working on the riding part as to he will stand and be saddled but bridle time is another thing. We are working very hard on being a good boy about this, His mother calls him The Red Headed Step Child for a reason. Riding him is a project at this point. He wants to be a pasture pet. We do reverse very well. We do Whoa very well. We even move close to the mounting block without direction perfectly. What we dont do well is go forward. We are working on that.
Brandon and I on our first ride.
I am really haveing a great time learning from him and with him. Small steps are better that 2 steps forward and 6 steps back. I will take small steps all day. I am hoping small steps will lead to Dressage steps by next fall, maybe some walk, trot, canter classes too. Whatever happens, we will do it together no matter how long it takes and we will be great as a team. We have the connection to go anywhere.