Monday, July 25, 2016
Dante and the River, Revisited
Dante and the River, Revisited
About a month ago, Dante was crossing one of the river crossings, and something splashed in the river and startled him. He took off running through the river and up the river bank. He would have kept on running, except Ellen forced him to stop.
Ellen has always been nervous crossing rivers, but she has improved over time. This was the last thing she needed. It was a huge setback.
In the weeks that followed, we had a few similar incidents, and Dante behaved himself. Ellen was still nervous about crossing, though.
Dante had another bad incident at one of the river crossings, and this time, he trotted through the water, passing Cole and startling him. Ellen wasn’t able to get Dante to stop until they got to the top of the river bank. Now, we had a problem.
Even though this happened when Ellen was traveling north across the river, Dante was now nervous when Ellen tried to cross south. The next time we went that way, he was reluctant to cross--or was that Ellen and Dante was picking it up from her?
On the way home, Ellen lost her nerve. She just couldn’t cross the river. Instead, we crossed on the ford.
The next week, Ellen rode him north, again, and he didn’t want to do it. When it came time to cross on the way home, she talked me into riding him across. We switched horses, and I went first.
He did walk quietly across, but he nervously trotted up the bank. It wasn’t scary or dangerous, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted Ellen to see perfect behaviour.
The very next day, we repeated the ride. This time, on the way out, Ellen took control. She would ask him to go a few steps and then click him for doing it well. With a lot of clicks, they crossed beautifully without any incident or unwillingness on Dante’s part.
On the way home, I really expected her to ask me to ride him across, but I wasn’t going to suggest it. I wanted to see what she would do. I had mentioned, earlier, that whoever rode him across should stop him at the bottom of the bank to discourage him from trotting up.
Ellen surprised me by saying she would ride across. We had our friend, Shari with her horse, Bella, go first. Kevin and I waited for Ellen to go next.
We then witnessed a beautiful and flawless example of horsemanship. He went down the bank and paused at the edge of the water. She gently urged him on and clicked and treated him. They proceeded across the water slowly and calmly with well-timed clicks--and then walked up the bank on the other side. The whole time, Dante was focused on her and not worried about the environment around him. Ellen squelched her nerves so well, that a person who didn’t know what had been going on would have never even suspected that there ever was a problem crossing the river.
Ellen later confessed that the reason she rode across the river was just plain laziness. It was a hot ride and we had been in the saddle a long time. Any other solution--crossing the road, leading up the street to an access trail or switching riders would have just been too much trouble.