A number of years ago I came across the story of John Rarey laying horses down. The story I can remember was about laying down troubled horses. Now, Cass may not really be troubled, but, to me he has had troubles and some I have helped with, some I felt could be fixed more, so I thought he may be a candidate for laying down.
I could not really find someone to make this assessment, I had to decide for us. I had been taking clinics with a cowboy with a lot of experience laying horses and cattle down for doctoring, branding, castrating and sometimes for behavior issues.
I was able to have private lessons on laying Cass down. I had the cowboy start the process as I was totally inexperienced.
He taught me how to single leg hobble Cass, which Cass was prepared for and not worried about, due to training I had done with him thus far. Then he used a soft long yacht rope with a metal ring at one end to secure the other front leg. Then he began the process of working Cass towards the laydown. This took a bit of time since Cass was very skeptical of this, being 17 years old (the cowboy stated doing this to a young horse was much easier.)
Cass had to work out that the best deal for him in this situation was to lay down. When he did on his own, that is we did not force the haunches down, we restricted his front leg and controlled the other. Then he got into position to lay down. After he did we rested and rubbed him a long time. Then the process was repeated twice more. On the third time, Cass was pretty willing to go down.
We called it a night. 4 days later the cowboy and I met up to continue what we started. This consisted of him laying Cass down again to see where he was at with the process. First time Cass went right down. Second time he was more hesitant.
Third time was my turn. I layed him down. My heart was pounding out of my chest. But, I did it and tried to seem calm for Cass.
I was instructed to continue this practice twice before riding and twice after. So I did this everyday for about 5 days. This is when the film part 1 and 2. After the film Cass was different about laying down. More trusting of the situation. Now it takes no hobble and about 30 seconds. He is much more relaxed about it.
I learned so much about precise timing of the release when the horse is under a lot of pressure and when I was under a lot of pressure to not fall apart. I needed my horse to trust me more than ever, I had a hold of his legs.
I realize I may be judged for my choice, but, I am glad I tried another way to understand how horses work. I learned so much and can see so much more and am better at waiting... horses need us to do that. So I think Cass has come through okay. He lets out a huge sigh everytime he goes down. He is calmer since the laying down. That was my goal is for him to feel more trusting.
The cowboy did say that in Cass's early days there may have been something that made Cass so worried, I was trying to replace that with getting his nueral pathways having new experiences.
During part 1 of the laying down, Cass reflected fear I have had in my life, I could relate, he helped me see that we can trust again, if we are willing.
Thank you Cass once again for making the world a better place for me.
All my love,