What, now we’re channeling a mule?

I knew I spoke too soon about my perfect colt! Today, since of course I wanted to get done and go over to Juliane’s to watch the news, we had our first hint of attitude.

(As Juliane pointed out, being in a hurry is why I got attitude. Touche.)

Anyway, he just started out with that look in his eye. You know the look. The F-U, Mom, I really don’t want to cooperate look. Of course I thought, okay, it’ll be good to work with him in that mood. After all, what if he’s in a mood the day he has to go to a show? Better learn to work through it now, right? So I forged ahead.

I’d decided tonight was the night I was going to hang a bit in his mouth, so I set up a plain ring snaffle on a working headstall. He already decided that looked like a good toy – as I was grooming him, he picked it up by the bit and swung it. There you go, colt – your mouth is exactly where that goes! However, when I actually put it on him, he was less than thrilled. Well, that’s an understatement. He wanted it out, out, out of his mouth. Now. Even though it was loosely adjusted, he shook his head to the ground and slung it around and tried to rid himself of the annoying thing in his mouth. He bit the post, he made faces like I was killing him. I only left it on ten minutes but I’m pretty sure I managed to put him in an even pissier mood with that little exercise! I’m really clever that way.

Then he decided he was going to regress totally and refuse to stand to be mounted. I started off doing the natural horsemanshippy thing where if they don’t stand, you send them out to longe. Well, we probably did that six times. He wasn’t getting bored with it or apparently learning a thing. Finally I decided it was time to revert to Traditional Horsemanship.

“Goddamnit, HO!” I finally yelled and smacked him in the chest.

He gave me a surprised look…and promptly gave up and stood still for mounting. OK, so much for being open minded about new methods, in the future we will go straight to the chest smack.

Once I was on, he started out fine. We walked our usual circles and figure eights. The trot was quick but I was expecting that as it was cold and windy outside and he’d had two days off. I figured he’d start to soften up as he got the edge off like he usually does. Instead, as we came through the center to circle, he just plain…didn’t turn. Um, what?

Thus began Rubbernecking Night. And I admit, I was annoyed as hell because, damn it, I wanted to get OFF and go watch myself on the news, and now I knew I had to do the responsible thing and work through this. He’d be good and trot along and then all of a sudden, he’d veer toward the middle like a 25 year old lesson horse having a pissy day. This was a completely new behavior. Well, I think we saw shades of it on ride number 2, but here we were at ride number 13, and ride 12 I had been trotting him around on the wall with one hand on the reins, chatting with my friends and not even having to pay attention.

We have a fence in the middle of the arena and he ignored my directions and simply drifted to a stop facing the fence. Now we were stuck. He wouldn’t turn left. He wouldn’t turn right. He wouldn’t back up. He didn’t care what I did. It was like sitting on a stuffed horse. Uh-oh.

I looked at the ends of my reins with the little leather pony whackers on them. Clearly they were going to have to be employed and I was going to have to face the consequences. I sat back, heels down and smacked him.

I think he yawned.

So I smacked him harder.

He twitched an ear. I was sure I could see his ears growing longer as this went on.

At some point I remembered that I used to ride a filly by his sire, and she also had an amazing ability to grow roots and totally ignore any temper tantrum taking place on her back. You had to outwit her, confuse her, and distract her to get her back into forward gear. I leaned forward, grabbed the cheekpiece and turned his head. Finally I got the all important forward step and then he gave up and walked out of it.

Before we quit, we (1) trotted down the wall once and stopped when I wanted to stop, not when he wanted to stop and (2) walked a very straight line without succeeding in pulling away down the wall he didn’t want to go down.

I know exactly why this ride happened. I was in a hurry. I wanted to get done and get off. That’s never the frame of mind to ride a greenie in. It also happened because I had been sloppy about some major building blocks of his training. He’s so quiet and well behaved normally that even though I knew he didn’t have much of a bend to the left, I hadn’t really been making an issue of it. Oh sure, we’d trot circles that direction, and I’d reward him mightily for turning his nose into the circle, but I hadn’t really worked on loosening him up in the neck. When he decided tonight to simply set his neck and refuse to move it, I didn’t have any strategy other than trying to outpull him and you know how well that works!

So, now we know what we need to work on! My friend is coming to visit tomorrow and bringing me a Wintec which should fit him, which would be great. I know I ride for crap in the purple cordura saddle and it should make a huge difference to have an english saddle on him where I can get my leg on him and I don’t feel like I’m tipping forward due to those strangely far-back stirrups.

Then again, it does occur to me that if that is our bad ride, I probably shouldn’t complain, right?

Published in: on May 22, 2008 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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