Two out of three ain’t bad…

Last night’s report:

The Beautiful Thoroughbred Mare

Honey is doing really well. This was our third ride and she was just as quiet as ride #2. I think being out on three acres with three other horses is doing her a lot of good. She has buddied up with the Crabby Old Bat, which cracks me up as I didn’t think the COB liked anyone – but she likes Honey. Honey is a good herd member – she gets along well with everybody. She has her Thoroughbred moments where she and Lucy gallop the length of the pasture. The two AQHA mares look on disdainfully with mouths full of grass, wondering why in the world those dumb Thoroughbreds are running when nothing is chasing them.

Last night we worked specifically on two things: backing up and starting the pivot. Honey has absolutely no back-up, not really surprising. That’s not a maneuver they teach on the track. So we worked on halting and backing a step. She is resistant but not in a bad way. She’s just figuring it out and every time she took a step back, even a small one, she got petted and allowed to move on. She really has no problem with “whoa.” She stops and stands quietly on a dropped rein every time. I’m riding her in a D-ring copper snaffle that is on the fat side and I don’t think she’ll ever need anything more.

As I’ve mentioned before, she has a killer rollback loose, so we’re going to use that and start teaching her to pivot. I did several directional changes where I just stopped her a little bit away from the wall and turned her toward the wall. She figured it out quickly and pivoted and stepped out of it, getting more petting and major praise. One thing I really like about Honey is that she’s not overly reactive to leg. You can put some leg on her and she doesn’t go, OMG, leg, must gallop. Some of them do!

Of course, we also just worked on bending, particularly to the right since we have absolutely no bend to the right (again, no surprise). Even loose in the round pen, she travels with her nose canted off to the outside and her inside shoulder dropped. I would like to see her get adjusted at some point – they all come off the track crooked and it doesn’t necessarily fix itself with time. I had a horse adjusted years ago that must have been twenty, and his head-neck area was still crooked to the left from the track. She’s not showing any pain behaviors when I do flex her to the right, though – it’s just obvious that’s a totally undeveloped side and this is a new experience.

The Very Large Colt

The night was a long one. I had friends stop by before I even got on Honey, so it was 10 PM by the time I got on the VLC. Honestly, at that point, I didn’t want to work hard and he and I mutually agreed we were just going to do an exercise ride. In other words, trot and do figure 8’s but not work hard on anything in particular – just cruise around. That’s exactly what we did and he was absolutely perfect. I really appreciate how consistently good he is. I also really noticed tonight that my leg is tightening up from riding more. It feels good!

Goal for the next week is going to be to get back to bit-training him in earnest. I need to ground drive him, much though that bores me, and just work on getting him to accept wearing a bit and that it will not kill him. I got lazy the past few rides and went, F it, ride in a halter if it makes you happy. It does, but he’s not going to be a trail horse and he just can’t ride in a halter forever. (I do think it’s kind of cool that I have an immense sized 3 year old colt that rides perfectly in a halter at a walk, trot and canter though!)

The Small Spotted Gelding

All right, now it was 10:30 and both Josie and I observed that the SSG had that look in his eye. You know, the “I just don’t want to cooperate, F You” look. Still, I was dead set that I was going to get all of my horses worked. I knew I had something else to do Friday night and I was going to get these three horses worked that I had scheduled myself to work, no matter how late it was.

Mistake #1.

He was pissy about the girth (not normal for him) and just looked like he was going to be uncooperative, so I decided to play it safe and longe.

Pony trotted around just fine. No sign of any drama.

OK fine. Normally I ride him with a shorter set of snap on reins but they weren’t in the arena and I was tired and I said, what the Hell, I’ll just ride him with the long white ponybeater reins tonight.

Mistake #2

I’ve observed before that the SSG has a noodle neck and the ability to go in a direction his head is not facing. However, up to this point, I really did not think he would do anything worse than trot sideways around the arena with me. I hadn’t quite figured out how to get the body to follow the noodle neck, but in the indoor I tend to think, well, hell, where are they going to go? I will just run their nose into the corner if I need to.

Mistake #3

I got on the SSG. And he…left. At a fast trot. I pulled his nose halfway around to my knee. He was still trotting, in the same direction he wanted to trot, and ignoring me. I tried to put his nose into the corner to stop and he just sidepassed his little self out of the corner at a fast clip and headed off down the wall. I said, ok fine you little shit, we’ll just long trot ’til you get tired and then we’ll long trot after that until you wish you could stop.

Mistake #4

The long trot disintegrated into the Pepe le Peu canter. You know the one I mean. Stiff legged, head in the air. He dove around the corner with a turn worthy of a barrel racer, stuck his pony nose down and started pitching. I think I stayed on for two of them. It was so dark in that end of the arena that Josie didn’t even see what happened.

I landed fairly painlessly on my hip and side. My early training about rolling myself into a ball has never deserted me, and I’m thankful for that. What hurt like a bitch was my left hand. I’d been trying so hard to pull the pony nose back up that I rope-burned the living hell out of my fingers and the area between my thumb and forefinger. I jumped up, announced I was fine, but didn’t feel like I could get back on as my left hand appeared to be on fire.

Which, very honestly, bugged the shit out of me. I should have gotten back on. He got worked – Josie soundly longed his little spotted ass – but I wanted to get back on, more for myself than anything else. I do however, despite the amazing lack of common sense shown by this entire incident, have enough sense not to get on a green pony that just bucked my ass off with one functioning hand. So I didn’t.

Here’s what I hope/think I learned:

1. If it’s 10:30 at night and you know you’re tired, and the pony is looking at you like F You, Lady, just longe. You are not being paid by the ride here, nor do you have to have him ready for the Olympics.

2. The pony does not like to be turned out in the arena all day and then worked when he has not had dinner yet and dinner is late and he had to listen to the other horses whinnying and being fed.

3. Failing to turn the pony and the VLC out to play together like they normally do before riding is just stupid. I don’t care how late it is, if it’s that late, then just don’t ride. I am very lucky the VLC was kind enough not to buck my ass off too – that would have been three more hands’ worth of fall and probably would have actually hurt.

4. Before you ride the green pony with the long, hanging to the knees ponybeater reins, you MIGHT want to LONGE in them first. I think he was spooked by the hanging, flapping white reins and I got exactly what I deserved for never giving him a chance to be desensitized to them before I just hopped on and rode like that.

5. You need to figure out how the hell to consistently stop the noodle-necked, hyperflexible pony. NOW.

6. Perhaps we have established that the pony should not be left for last with the assumption that he will be the easiest one of the bunch?

On the plus side:

1. I’m actually not stiff or sore. I’m fine. I’m shocked. I did load up on Advil before I went to bed but I’m still surprised the only thing that hurts is my hand.

2. I don’t think I’m scared. I think I’ll be fine about getting back on the pony.

3. I’m going to learn a lot from riding this one and it will save my ass in the future when I encounter his type again.

OK, anybody have any really good recommendations for some over the counter stuff that will make the rope burn on my hand feel better?



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Published in: on June 27, 2008 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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