Sunday dawned cloudy and cooler than it's been. It made it perfect for riding. After my morning coffee I got Carmen ready and we headed up to the ring. Halfway up I realized that I forgot my lunge line so we went back to the barn to get it. Irish was down in the barn.
Irish: what, done so soon?
Carmen: I don't know. Oh wait. She forgot the long rope.
Irish: Humans are so forgetful. Horses don't forget anything.
Carmen: I know. I don't understand how they manage to survive.
We headed back up to the ring before they could discuss my failings any further. Things went well on the lunging (I'm beginning to sound like a broken record on that). Something did startle her once and she ran backwards and turned around. I just stood there and didn't move 'so where are you going?'. She came to a stop and looked at me. Then went back the direction we were lunging.
When I got on she stood very still. I spent some time at the walk working on stretching to get her supple and relaxed. It was nice to spend some time at the walk, usually she starts to get agitated so I move on to trot. Not this time.
When she was soft and supple I asked for a trot. She was very sticky. Not wanting to move forward at all. I squeezed her gently and she swung her hind quarters into the circle. I squeezed again and she dropped walk. I gave her a light tap behind my leg with the whip and she exploded into some fairly big bucks. After the third one I was getting unseated and it was only one or two more before I came off. If I came off that would be bad because she would learn that it works. I had to do something. I jerked up on her inside rein, hard. Her head flew up and then I gave her a couple big thumps with my legs and used my sternest voice. No. You do not do that. Get your ass forward. NOW.
|fine in the field. Not acceptable under saddle|
I kept the inside rein up so she couldn't drop her head and got her going forward. It wasn't pretty. It was not graceful. It was harsh. And it was effective. Within 1/2 a circle I didn't have a sticky horse anymore. I had a forward horse. I was able to relax my rein. The crucial thing now was to let go of any anger I had so that I wasn't punishing her for doing what I wanted. I kept her trot going forward. A hint of a pinned ear and I raised the inside rein and urged her more forward. She picked up a very forward canter. That was good. That was the opposite of what we had before. We cantered on. She asked to trot. Nope. Let's canter more. Now let's trot. ah good girl.
I am not upset nor surprised that she bucked. I figured it was coming because I've been not letting her set the agenda anymore and established, unwanted behaviour always worsens before it improves. Fortunately, Irish had taught me a lot in my younger years so I was able to react without thinking. I believe that she was very surprised by my reaction- that I didn't haul her up by instead propelled her forward. I essentially did under saddle what I would do on the ground- use my body and voice to correct her behaviour. I know I was harsh with her but I needed to be. A horse that bucks and is not corrected can seriously injure a rider. Also, these horses almost never end up in a good place. They end up being sold on.
For the rest of the ride there was not one hint of being sticky. She was tense at times but not too much. We were able to school some shoulder fore and some halt-trot-halt transitions. I finished by working on some turns on the forehand and called it a day. In the barn she ground tied like an angel. I hosed her off after and took her to do some lawn mowing.