Rolling the dice…

You all know what I’m talking about. You know when the horse won’t do what you want, or is having a rebellious moment, and you have that little internal conversation? I was doing that last night with Drama, the POA pony I’m working for friends of mine. She is a lovely little pony, but the last two rides, she’s developed this new behavior where she stops short and balks. This wouldn’t faze me so much, but she has an ongoing behavior where she rears in the crossties. The crosstie-rearing has been improving, and she has never reared under saddle, but when you know you have a rearer on your hands, and they suddenly stop and suck back and start going backwards and all the weight goes to the back end, it does give you that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. And so my gutsy side and my chickenshit side were back to doing battle.

Gutsy Side: She’s giving you Appytude. You need to whale her one and let her know that’s not okay.

Chicken Side: Um, but what if she goes ballistic? I’ve never had to “get into” this pony before.

Gutsy Side: She’s just gonna get worse if you don’t make the point now that you’re in charge. And she’s 13.1. How far are you gonna fall?

Chicken Side: She could go right up and over and land on me, I bet a 13.1 pony weighs a LOT when it lands on you…who’d make the point then? I think I will just cluck to her and tap her with my heels.

Gutsy Side: Oh yeah. That’ll scare her. Oh noooooooo I will never balk again, I might get clucked at.

Well, the clucking and tapping didn’t work so I cautiously escalated. Nothing bad happened and I finally realized that booting the pony while growling really loud caused the pony to go forward every time. And after 2 or 3 boot/growl combos, the pony actually gave up and rode fine.

Gutsy Side: Bwahahaha, I told you so, you’re such a dumb shit!

*sigh* That’s always the hard part though. Logically, you know that 99 times out of 100, the horse is gonna give up and do what you want…but there’s that 1 time that lands people in the emergency room or worse every day. The older you get, the harder it is to believe that you’re going to continue gambling and winning.

I was going through this with a friend the other day, who is paying waywayway too much money for a trainer to do things she could perfectly well do herself, if only she could get over the mental block so many of us are fighting at this age.

Me: Has Horsey ever bucked anybody off?
Friend: No.
Me: Has Horsey ever reared and dumped anybody off?
Friend: No.
Me: Has Horsey ever spooked out from under anybody?
Friend: No.
Me: Then he’s probably not going to develop any of that specially for you. I think you should ride him.

Of course, High Priced Trainer has told her she can’t ride her own horse *eye roll*

Ultimately, we have to remember that we gamble every time we get out of bed. Sure, people get hurt or killed riding, but they also slip in the shower, get nailed by a drunk driver on the way to work, or find out they have terminal cancer after living the health-nut, organic only, exercise-daily life for forty years. We have all chosen to ride. Everybody reading this blog loves horses and wants to enjoy them. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and decide that for the 10 seconds required, you’re going to ride confidently…you’re going to do what needs to be done. If you can convince yourself, you’re going to have a lot better time convincing the horse!

(And by the way, this is head shaking pony, and before someone brings up that head shaking pony may be seriously out of alignment, we discovered the head shaking stops almost completely when we braid pony’s forelock for riding! So apparently pony is suffering from Fluffy Forelock Syndrome which is not a condition requiring veterinary or chiropractic intervention, but is merely cured with a rubber band…LOL! I am told this is a comon Welsh pony quirk and this pony is allegedly part Welsh…)

As to the rest of my herd, Casper, the APHA filly from Cowgirl Spirit, had a pretty extreme wolf tooth removal so I’m taking it easy on her – we’re slowly starting back ground driving and I rode her around lightly yesterday. She is quiet but lazy and very resistant to leg so I’m trying to put together leg + voice cue so that it makes sense for her. Right now if you just put leg on her, you get pinned ears and cowkicking, but she is starting to figure out that leg + cluck means trot and don’t be pissy about it. She is very forward on the longe, I just don’t think she understands the leg squeezing thing yet. She’s dead quiet at the walk, has a perfect “ho,” and I could take her on a trail ride tomorrow but now we need to develop those other gaits.

The VLC continues to be wonderful. He’s my easy horse to ride, which makes me laugh daily. Who would think that my 3 year old, 16.2 stallion, who’s been under saddle for five months, would be the easiest horse I ride? He is, though. He just never does anything bad. The only thing I have to remember on him is to steer because he doesn’t realize how big he is and will go too close to the walls if I don’t direct him. I set up new cross ties and now he gets cross tied right next to mares and he ignores them. He rides in the arena with others, no problem. He is almost 100% fine about his feet now – the back left, he will still try to pull away a time or two but he gives up pretty quick. I bought him a brand new rain sheet and even though I’m pretty sure he hasn’t been blanketed at all in the past, he’s fine with it and has made no effort to destroy it (GOOD COLT! Some of them are so hard on blankets.) He’s just such a sweet, cooperative horse about everything.

I also got a great report about his mini-me — Bullwinkle is leading, “longes” at a walk (goes in the direction you point, what a smart boy!) and is generally just learning everything about life very quickly. Of course he’s out of the cute baby stage and now looks ridiculous, much like my Big Gold Yearling. I tried to get some good pictures of the BGY the other day…oh forget it. I’ll try again in a year, ha ha!

I loved hearing everybody’s updates – keep it up! It’s really good to hear from those of you who finally found a trainer that works for you and your horse. The good ones are out there – I swear, trainer shopping is like buying clothes at Ross, you gotta go through all of the fuschia print hot pants and sweatshirts with teddy bears to find that little black designer dress in your size hiding amidst all the crap!

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Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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