A few weeks ago, no, now that I think about it, it was back in mid August, Chico and I had a bad incident with Dakota, the horse I ride. We were out in one of the fields, walking along, nice and relaxed, Chico trailing a few feet behind Dakota. My mind was wandering a bit when Dakota heard or smelled what turned out to be another horse and rider approaching. He executed one of his patented high-speed 180 degree turns and I went off. I kept a death grip on the reins on the way down, but he started to drag me, and I let go. Dakota took off, stirrups flapping, for home.
Poor Chico was suddenly confronted with 950 pounds of horse galloping straight at him so he also turned and ran. That left me and my phone in the field to call back to the barn and say they were on the way, and so was I; just a bit behind them.
When I got back to the barn, Chico was already in his crate, waiting for me. He was uninjured and seemed pretty calm. The folks who were at the barn when the animals returned said Dakota was in the lead, so he didn’t chase Chico ALL the way home. Chico was willing to go back out with us (I HAD to get the horse past that spot immediately or we’d never be able to go down that trail again), but as soon as he realized that we were going back toward that place Chico turned for home. I continued my ride, having to get off and lead Dakota through the entire large field to the place where he got scared and coax him past it before getting back on, going back to the barn, putting the horse away, comforting the dog, going home and taking a hot bath and some ibuprofen.
Two weeks later, Chico and I went for a walk, just us two, through the field in question, and when we got near that place he would not walk next to me, he had to stay far from the mowed edge near the tree line, he was way out in the field, looking nervously over his shoulder. Crapola. My dog is traumatized.
I spent a month or more just grooming the horse, not forcing Chico to interact at all and last weekend, the three of us went for a walk together. Chico was game, but wary. He had fun, he came close enough for me to toss treats. Yesterday, we went to repeat that exercise. It was windy, I had to drag Chico from the car at the start; the horse was jumpy, the dog was terrified. We went maybe 200 yards, with Chico as far as he could be and still see me, and turned back for home, with me hanging onto Dakota’s halter with two hands and letting him pull against most of my body weight. Not our best time together.
I need another plan. Ride Dakota more, but leave Chico behind until I can get Dakota calmed down a bit? Surely he’s under worked right now, because I don’t like riding without Chico as much as I like riding with Chico, so I’m not riding. Work Dakota in the round pen to work him down? Something will come to me, and I’ll try it.