Oh, where to begin? I suppose on Day One:
Day one began with an all-too early alarm after a not-so-sleep-filled night. I got up and headed to the barn. Filled water buckets...paced...put a little more in...paced. Worried that if I unloaded my car and started putting my box together KAT (Kick Ass Trainer) would show up and I'd have to stop. So I paced. KAT arrived and hitched up the trailer. We drove the 60 miles to get him. I had been warned that he doesn't really enjoy loading into the trailer all by himself. I had a minor panic attack on the way to the barn so I was not 100% and just handed him over to KAT. I had a minor trailer incident about 9 years ago and I still get a little nervous loading. I knew my fear wouldn't help him be confident so I let to professional take over. He fussed and raised his front feet a few inches off the ground a few times, and then just like a switch flipped, he walked forward into the trailer. I met him at his window with treats. I was shaking. Exchanged papers for monies and we were on our way. I'm fortunate that his previous owner (I'm his third) really likes him and is very helpful with my questions. It's really nice (because I'm an OHO) to have all the help and reassurance I can get. I had a pretty major panic attack on the way home. I've had several in the past 7 years so I manage them, but it's tough to manage them when you're stuck in the cab of a pickup truck on a narrow highway. Could I feel any more like I was trapped?!? I ended up allowing myself to fall asleep and even thought I woke up every few minutes with my heart pounding and the tips of my ears tingling I started to feel better. I get car sick, too and the truck seemed to be ever-so-subtly jerky. Just subtle enough that in my overanxious state I became very nauseated. I wasn't really doubting my decision to buy him, I was just having an unfortunate emotional/mental reaction to a big decision. I have a feeling some people do this on their wedding day.
We got back to the farm and he unloaded quietly. He was very interested in the horses in the turn-out pens. Calling to them. I led him into the barn and into his new stall. He seemed just fine to munch the feed and drink his water (he drinks a LOT of water) while I built his box. I was trying to pretend I wasn't freaked out, but I wasn't doing a very good job. Eventually I took him out for a walk. Took him through the indoor arena and the other barn since that's the route to the outdoor arena. He was very "looky" and vocal. I got him into the arena. My new lunge line hadn't come yet so I tried to get him to move around on just the lead. He didn't really know what I wanted at first, but he got it eventually. I put him back in his stall and went home for a much needed nap. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I was also dreading that night's lesson. I had no idea what to expect.
I felt much more relaxed after my nap and was enjoying the fact that I had a horse waiting for me! He seemed happy to see me. I spent some time brushing him and tacking him. I had planned to try to get him into the ring before the rest of the lesson horses got in there so he wasn't suddenly in a crowd. He was VERY excited and was holding his normally flat neck straight up in the air (His TB was showing...) the very estute KAT suggested I lunge him. There were already other horses in the arena, but okay. He tossed of a few tiny bucks and heel kicks and was very vocal. He lunged for a bit but just STOPPED and faced me and started watching the other horses circle around him as if that's what he came there to do. I let him stand for a bit then tried to get him going a few more times with not much luck. "That's all you got?" I asked him. "Really, that's it? A couple little tosses of your head and now you're content to just stand there? Okay then." KAT had come back with the rest of the lesson so I put us in the back of the mounting line. He stood quietly. I mounted. He stood quietly. I walked him off quietly. He was certainly more animated than he had been at this home, but nothing dumb or dangerous. Headset was pretty much out the window because he was still very "looky" about everything. I think he's going to need a LOT of hauling to shows before he's able to accept the busy atmosphere as the same as any other busy atmosphere.
He did trip at the lope and my dumb ass lost my left rein. I had a second of panic but I pulled his head in with my right rein and told him to whoa...he did. I reached down and grabbed the rogue rein. I didn't think they were long enough to tie and still have enough to use, but I managed to do it today so that shouldn't happen again.
He's so different from my Arabs, it's going to take a while to get used to the fact that things like jumps and barrels don't bother him at all, and getting bumped by a gate is no big deal. Dropped & stepped on rein? Peh. Whatever. There have been many things in the past three days that lots of horses in my past would have warranted at the very least a full-body twitch and a heavy snort and a few moments/minutes to get over the fact that some gravel had been kicked at the wall.
After that first lesson I took him back to his stall and praised him greatly for carrying me safely through our first at-home ride. I was SOOOO tired and had a full day of work ahead of me beginning early in the morning.
Because I can't read memos I thought I had work ALL day, but instead I had off from 2:00 until 6:30....so I headed to the barn. I didn't want to ride because I wouldn't have enough time to get re-cleaned up and ready for the work dinner. He was eating his afternoon feed when I got there and didn't think it would be very nice to pull him away from it so I just tested his feeding time manners, which were fine. I tried on my two old halters and surprise surprise they're too small. Oops, guess I get to buy a new halter! I groomed him and let him out in one of the turn-outs and took some pictures of him being cute. He was very vocal again. Reminded me of how a gelding-who-thinks-he's-herd-stallion I know used to behave. He trotted around and loped a bit but mostly just stood and ate grass and let me walk around him. He let me catch him without an issue and I put him back in his stall, gave him some treats and left him to his hay.
My mantra: It's only day three. It's only day three. It's only day three. It's only day three.
I tacked him up and grabbed my brand new lavender lunge line. (Don't judge - some of that 13yo girl who wanted a pony still lives inside me...and now has money...and a pony!) KAT had two small-frys in the ring and I didn't want to bother them. (He's still an Arab in my mind.) So I took him to the round pen. I hooked him up and stepped back to send him off and he yanked the line through my hand giving me a lovely little rope burn across the palm of my hand and the tips of my middle and ring fingers. Super. Ow. OW! Dammit...Grrrr. I regrouped and got him going. There were some kids playing near the pen so of course he was more interested in them than what I was trying to get him to do. He let off some spunk, but didn't get to that calm state he go to on Day One. I still didn't want to put him in with the little kids, just incase he (or I) did something dumb so I thought I'd try out the indoor. The weather was cool enough and it was light enough out so I didn't need to turn the lights on. We had mounting issues, but we resolved them. He decided to step ON to the mounting block....(again my Arab brain panics, but my Paint does not)....and stepped off again. Spent probably 45 minutes trotting circles and serpentines and figure 8s. TRYING to get him to lower his head and relax and slow down and pay attention and stop whinnying for the other horses. The "best" part was when the next lesson came leading their horses through the arena (it's the route to the outdoor, I can't help it) and he decided to ignore me and go with them. Um NO I think not. Fight ensues. Horses get safely out of arena and close gate, and I manage to get my horse to turn the other direction. It's only day Three, It's Only Day Three, It's Only Day Three. Sigh. Loped a few laps each direction and he tripped again at the lope. I don't know if I should be concerned about this or not. KAT noted that he interferes behind and had a nick on his right fetlock that he re-opened today. He's got shoes on which I'd rather not have, but he just got them on 8/17 so I will wait before getting him a farrier apt. and hoping I can leave him barefoot. I ordered him ankle boots but couldn't tell which was Right and which was Left. I had KAT show me so next ride we'll try them out.
He's such a cuddlebug in the stall! He's winning my heart every day with his kisses and hugs. I've never known a horse so affectionate in the stall. Especially when there's hay! Kinda makes me forget how sore my back is from riding him!