Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Return of the Beast – Episode 600


~  * The culprit himself looking all cute and innocent in his new rug… *  ~

*sigh*  What is it they say?  One step forwards, six steps backwards?  That sounds about right…  After Monday’s nice and fun ride, today was something of a blow out. 

It started off well enough, he was so quiet on the lounge that I only did a couple of circles at walk/trot on either rein – yup, I wanted to get on and RIDE!

We walked around the arena, we did our 20m circles and we even went past the scary stuff ok!  Then I tried to sneak in some pole work like I did on Monday.  *huff*  Yeeeeaaah.  That didn’t work. 

Joey would not go over those damn poles.

And I know it wasn’t because he was afraid.  He just didn’t want to, so he was being an absolute snot about it.  We ended up wrestling over this for a good 30 to 40 minutes – he was doing everything he could not to listen to my seat, leg, then spur aids.  He was kicking out, jacking up, walking backwards, scooting sideways, bucking; you know, the lot. 

The darn horse actually stepped over the first pole at one point then went backwards again when he realized he’d done that!  > x <

My approach to the situation was pretty simple:  he could stand and look at the poles for a little while, then I would quietly ask him to move forwards, my aids were applied stronger and stronger until he stepped forwards, then I would immediately release the pressure. 

He would actually eventually get up to the poles with some fussing but when I asked for the next step that is when he’d get shirty and start trying to run sideways around the poles/go backwards.  As soon as he started going backwards I would rouse on him and make it very uncomfortable for him to be doing that, he would chuck a tanty, then would eventually stop facing the poles again because I wouldn’t let him turn or run away from them.  No circles, no side steps, just plain old facing straight at the poles.  That’s when I would sit quietly. 

We went backwards and forwards too many times to count and eventually I decided that unless I had all afternoon to keep this up I’d need a slightly different tack or we’d get nowhere. 

I pushed him up to the poles one more time and before he could get sticky or tense I hopped off him.  I asked him to walk forwards and when he refused I made him go backwards and sent him around in tiny little circles around me when he wouldn’t go backwards anymore.  Three or four attempts like this and he went through the poles as quietly and calmly like there had never been a problem in the first place.  Honestly, butter wouldn’t have melted in his mouth.  Not a foot wrong, not a fuss.  I KNEW it!  He was just being a brat – testing the limits.

One good thing that came out of this is that I know I can handle pushing his buttons.  He wasn’t happy with me today, and he let me know it.  I could handle it and even doll out the appropriate disciplinary action when he needed it.  No, kicking at the leg or spur aid is not on.  Neither is running backwards, bucking or jacking up.

That does up my confidence level – I now know that I can handle his temper tantrums and that even though he doesn’t want to obey, at no point did I actually feel unsafe/in danger.  Not happy, and definitely not comfortable or relaxed{!} but still, okay.  I didn’t feel like he wanted to kill me, he just wanted to do his own thing. 

Still not sure where I am going to go from here – I don’t think that getting on and trying the same thing tomorrow is going to be any kind of productive solution.  So I am thinking that I am going to cull it back – get him used to going over one pole on a lounge circle and then transfer that to a 20m circle over one ground pole under saddle.  One step forwards, two steps back.

In the mean time, he will still be doing pole work on the lounge/in hand and I think we’ll definitely be doing more work on backing up.  He has to realize that if he can only back up if I want him too, not as an evasion, and he also has to realize that if I want him to back up the length of the arena he had better darn well do it, just because I said so!!

See ya,


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