Ozzie Minor is now long reining, gently at first but he is long reining, film to follow. (Feb 2018)
On Monday the 8th January Ozzie once again was accepting of the long reins. On the 12th I was able to ask Gina to unclip the head collar and just walk with him as I long reined him. We will film him next week.
On Friday the 5th January I finally got Ozzie Minor to accept long reins. they were short long reins but it is the principle that counts. It was an amazing moment and Gina and I just had to give each other a big hug. Ozzie was amazing, I think we are finally getting there.
Filmed October 9th 2017.
OZZIE MINOR, the cob with a problem.
On the 27th February 2017 we began work with Ozzie Minor.
6th March, 20th March, 27th March, 10th April, 24th April, 22nd May, 5th June, 12th June, 10th July, 24th July, 7th August, 14th August, and so on once a week until Christmas.
He is a strawberry roan with lovely conformation and a nice intelligent head. He belongs to Dr. Gina Rosedale-Smith who has rescued him. He is kept in Worplesdon.
When I first met him I was shocked by his nervousness. Actually it was sheer terror His eyes were white and staring out at you. You couldn’t touch his sides and he held his head as high as he could when leading him. He had had a terrifying experience while in care. Someone thought he was broken in and put a saddle on him and legged up a rider. He must have stood still for about 30 seconds then exploded. Girl and saddle in a wreck. Poor Ozzie must have galloped free with a long rein following him for how long we don’t know. But I imagine it took them a while to catch him.
The damage was done. From this moment on, he was convinced every human was a predator. We had a lot of work to do. On that first day, we took him out and just walked him with Gina to see if by walking and stopping we could get him to listen and be with her. He was very resistant. We did what I call a ‘Snake Test’ which is dragging a long rein around the horse as if it were a snake. He bolted and took a long time to catch. Every time we tried to get the line past his quarters and come up on the near side, he kicked out. His nerves were palpable. He was terrified.
The second time I worked him I had a roller. We took him out into the arena and I waited till Gina left to go and find something. I put the roller onto Ozzie and got it girthed up. I had a short line on him. He exploded and bucked, but stayed on the line – just. I then unfastened the line and let him go free. He bucked and bucked and galloped around the unfenced arena in terrible anxiety. Gina reappeared and Ozzie was galloping around the field and the arena. We just stood and watched him. He finally stopped, puffing and snorting, and allowed me to join up with him and click the line back on. It took a long time – an hour or more, to catch him. Every time I approached him, he bolted off. Once I had caught him I had to be very careful how I got the roller off. I have to admit it was a close shave. I managed to slide the buckle and unlatch the point and do it so quietly that Ozzie, standing and trembling, but he did not bolt. Whew! I got the roller off!
Drastic measures were called for. I found an old roller at the Tack Shack. It had leather straps and rollers on the buckles. It was soft and made of leather and hessian. We decided to put it on every day while he was in the stable. However, it was not easy and I doubt it went on every day. I managed to get it on when I went over on the next Monday, but it was not making that much difference – he hated it. We groomed him and rubbed and patted him and took him out into the arena and dragged lines around him. He always kicked out when he saw the lines coming around and would not stand still and wait for the line to come round the other side, but he bolted off. I never got all the way round he just would shoot around and eye it with ultimate distrust.
It seemed to us we needed help and I suggested we used oils and got him onto magnesium. The oils really helped and he lapped them up at first. The magnesium was a real plus and has made his nerves less tense and he is nearly able to relax.
We continued to slap lines around his legs and drag the line around him, but it was very slow and sometimes we saw no change at all. His eye began to look softer and he walked beautifully with Gina. I began to notice that putting on the roller was easier and we did this in the stable. The first time he bucked in the stable and I got out very carefully. Slowly, slowly he was accepting the roller. You couldn’t move fast. You had to move slowly but he was generally less terrified.
On the 4th of June we combined walking with the long rein on the ground, but for some reason he got away from Gina and panicked. He took some time to join up again, two or three goes at it. But, finally, we got him back from his terror paddy and rubbed him and took the roller off.
I did say to Gina that I was not sure how far we would get and asked her if it mattered. She agreed that it was not huge progress we were looking for but just little bits of improvement. He is easy to catch in the field and also Gina has earned his trust. I can get the roller on and take it off quite quickly now and we took him out and put short lines on him, but as soon as the short line touched his back, he bolted and we just let him go. The joy of the short lines is that they just touch the ground and go along a little away from the horse, but are not as terrifying as a longer line. He finally stopped and I caught him easily.
He walks now with his head down and we can nearly get the lines around him on the ground. Right to left is bad, but he is better if you drag the line left to right. They saddled him on the left side so that is why he is deeply suspicious of anyone doing anything from the near side. He is much calmer with Gina, he is learning to trust her and shows less white in his eye. We put lines coiled and fastened to the rings of the roller to bang against his sides every time we worked him, but he did not seem to care about them the last two times we worked him in this way.
I decided he needed to have a reaction again so I put a bandage across his back to the other side of the roller. It bounced on his back, but he did nothing.
On the 14th August I decided to put it around his quarters. We were ready for a reaction, but he did nothing. So he has had a bandage around his quarters and accepted it. Progress is being made. But it may also be that as he has never had this done to him he will not be frightened of it.
We have continued to work with Ozzie every week with a few breaks. He is very attached to Gina who handles him very well. He now has a fluffy saddle numnah under the roller. We have been able to get him to nearly stand while I do the snake test. But he still gets highly agitated as you come up the near side and often spins round. Sometimes he is better behaved, but when I put a loose rein into the roller and stood at a 45 degree angle, he panicked. Sometimes he charges off at least 6 or 7 times in a session. Not so much in terror, but also because it is becoming a habit. The habit is interestingly an addiction to adrenaline. He has now learned to manage a rope dangling from his head collar which is a plus. It does not scare him anymore. But he is still charging off at the slightest whim. So we knew we had to do something about the adrenaline addiction.
It dawned on me that of if he really is addicted to adrenaline I have to find a way to wean him off it. Circus training of course! They train Zebra with treats, so why not Ozzie? I purchased a bag of really nice apple flavoured horse treats. Then the next time we worked him, we put out some horrid plastic buckets in bright lime green in a line to walk down. Gina walked him along them first. His eyes were out on organ stops. When they got to the end she gave him a treat. Then they turned round and went down the other side, and gave him a treat. Then she weaved in and out of the buckets with a treat at each end. It did not take long he soon forgot about adrenaline and focused on the lovely treat at the end of each line of bending. At last! A substantial change in his attitude. He stopped pulling away from Gina and waited for the next request. He was developing focus and becoming willing to work. We may have found a way through. Fingers crossed.
We have continued to use the treats to distract him from the addiction to adrenaline. Slowly he is changing his focus from fear to pleasure, from that buzz caused by a sudden rush of adrenaline to mouthing for a treat. It began to look as if it was now time to test the theory. I put the lines on him both side and to his bit. I was taking a chance. The first time I stood on his near side he panicked and tore off, but did not go far stopped and waited to be caught. Then we did it again. This time, we carefully gave him a treat just at the moment when he wanted to go into flight mode. It worked! He stopped and thought about it. We were beginning to get somewhere. The next few sessions, we continued with the short long lines, with Gina leading him and with me walking at his near side. He was learning fast.
2018 5th January
With our first session this year, I have been able to long rein him, with Gina leading him. He will walk on and halt from commands made with the lines. Gina continues to lead him and so far he has shown no panic. At last I am making substantial progress. I believe that the learning curve will go up sharply now and that as soon as I can get him to accept me alone on the lines we have every possibility of getting a saddle on him and putting Chocolate Charlie (my dummy rider) up. Fingers crossed!