So yesterday I had a bit of break through. The break through was for me but it has repercussions with Steele.
Here's the story:
You remember 'yes Ma'am' post. Well two days later I was working him. His ground work was good. Not perfect but good. I did have the sense that he wasn't with me 100% but I didn't trust my gut. Then I got on. It started out fine when all of sudden he began to balk at going forward. I urged him forward with my feet and my voice. It worked, sort of, but then he stopped and we had a conversation that went like this:
'la la la I can't hear you'
'screw you. I'm done.'
I wished I had a crop but I didn't. I was trapped. I couldn't think of what to do so I dismounted. We marched over to the gate and I'm sure he was happy. However, I put his halter on and clipped on the lunge. I won't lie, I was pissed. I know that emotion has no place in training but I have to acknowledge that it's there. So I took my anger and put it aside. I then used the energy from my anger in the next steps.
I asked him to move forward and he did. I asked him to whoa and then he refused to go forward. I corrected him sharply. At which point he leapt forward. Great- forward energy. I put his little defiant butt to work. Steele was not so happy with the idea of work. He threw a major tantrum. I was glad to have a chance to work this out with him. My thoughts were that for most of his wee life he gets to choose what he does. For the time I'm with him I get to pick what he does. Period. The sooner he figured that out the better for both of us. After I had a nice and obedient horse I took off the lunge equipment and remounted. I made sure that I had forward when I wanted and then finished.
What I realized is that I need to pay attention to how he is during the ground work and not let it slide.
The next time I went to work him he was lovely with his ground work. I mounted but this time was prepared with a small crop that I have. After about 10 minutes he tried the balking again. I quickly reached back and gave him a smack where I had addressed the issue on the ground. He spun around:
'hey, someone hit me'
'yes. where are they?'
'was it you?'
'how could it be me? I'm up here, not on the ground. We better move ahead'
I only had to use the crop twice. He couldn't figure out where this person was which was fine with me. I was feeling pretty smug.
Then he began to be spooky about the far side of the ring. Now this has been a spot that has been a bit problematic but we've been working on it. As he was getting tense I suddenly flashed back to something that Royce said to me "A horse learns what you teach it". I realized that on the ground working in this area was not causing us any problems so why was I teaching him that it was okay to be spooky when under saddle?
I said to Steele and me "do you know what? you were fine down there just 10 minutes ago when I was on the ground so I'm not accepting that it's a problem when I'm up here"
He flicked an ear at me. We then walked down there with no issues. It had nothing to do with him understanding what I said- what happened was that my body language changed completely. I was no longer feeding the notion that we needed to be worried about that corner. In fact we were able to stand still for at least 3 minutes down there with him on a long rein. His ears were at half mast and his hind leg cocked. I called that a win and dismounted.
So that's two break through with myself: 1. tune into ground work. If I don't think he's with me then he's not.
2. I need to make sure that I don't reinforce spookiness or worry. One of us should know what we're doing.