Saturday, January 7, 2012

And the beat goes on.....

I took my camera out to the barn yesterday with good intentions to take pictures and even some video since I wasn't actually riding the pony.  Did I remember that?  No, no I did not.  Sigh.

I got out to the barn to groom the pony and get her tacked up for Laura. One of Tessa's favorite activities is sleeping.  Often, when I come out to the barn, my pony is lying down napping.  She might crack an eye open when I open her stall door, but it takes a bit of encouragement to get her up on her feet.  She's a champion napper.

Not only was she not napping yesterday, she was spinning, rearing and calling out frantically every time she saw me.  She was in a different stall so we think she just might be really insecure every time we move stalls.  Which means she's going to be on the grand rotation schedule from now on where we will try to put her in different stalls every day. It also means I'm going to start thinking about who I can hitch rides with this summer so we can just get her OUT places.

I told Laura that there was no way in hell I was going to try and take off her blanket while she's rearing in her stall, so Laura went in and removed the blanket and turned Tess out in the arena to blow off some steam.  Five minutes of bucking, snorting and galloping later and she was still vibrating but she was much more sensible.  Remember my assignment from Thursday?  To act like I disliked my pony?  Yeah, I started that.  Which meant when she pushed her shoulder into me, I pushed her back (you have got to love horses that are small enough that you can actually *physically*push them over).  When she tried to push me with her head, I caught her one on the bridge of her nose.  When she tried to back up in cross ties, I pushed her back forward.  When she pinned her ears, swished her tail and twitched a hind leg I growled at her.  Sure enough, she stopped.  And was good for the rest of our tacking up.

Laura put on a helmet and prepared for battle.  Today was the pony's Come to Jesus discussion.  Today, the princess would learn that forward was the *only* answer that was acceptable when leg was put on.  Laura got on, adjusted the stirrups and hunkered down for the big fit.  She asked Tess to go forward.  Tess wrinkled her face up, threw her head back, swished her tail and went slower.  She asked again, tapping with the whip.  Tess threw a hind leg out and flung her head in hair.  Wrong answer, pony.  Laura snapped the whip smartly on her hind end and the pony put in a half hearted buck and shot forward into a.....canter.  But it was a forward canter.  Laura praised her and settled into riding.  She rode serpentines and transitions.  She rode in two point, deep seat.  She tried to emulate my riding (I told her to grip like hell with her whole body and ask her to go forward while holding the reins too tight...that should do the trick.), she flopped like potatoes, she was rigid.  The pony maintained forward.  Laura was soft and fair and only had to tap her one more time to remind her that kicking, bucking and pinning ears were not the answer to a forward reminder.

Our plan is for Laura to get on her before I ride for the next few times and to see if we can get past this with Tess and I.  It's very obviously an issue that is caused mostly by me.  So I'm going to focus on grabbing mane instead of rein (how's that for a rhyming mantra this week) and hunkering down for some serious forward.

Since I didn't get pictures of the ride, here is a picture of one of the babies at the barn.  They're at that fugly baby stage for sure, but this little guy is so damn cute and friendly and kept coming over for some more love.


  1. Thank you so much for posting what you are doing to combat the pushy bossyness on the ground. I have been finding that My gelding is really testing me on the ground and after your last post i tried the tapping on the nose and it worked very quickly. Im going to try the methods you are with my boy since it is definatly helping you! Thanks!

  2. Yeah! It's funny how quickly things can change when you decide to be large and in charge. :) I enjoyed reading your blog and can't wait to hear your stories with your new 5 year old. My pony is also 5, turning 6 this year and she has had some fun 5 year old moments.

  3. lol! too true i forget sometimes that he is a baby and i need to let him try it out and be patient and correct him properly but like you i kinda psyc myself out and make an excuse or say its bad behaviour. Your mare is gorgeous though i always wanted the grey/white horse! theres a arab gelding at my barn that looks just like your girl.. ill try to sneak a picture so you can see!!

  4. I think it can be really hard when you're psyched out with the "she's great for my trainer, but awful for me" situation.

    This reminds me a lot of when I worked for a high-end veterinary hospital. If we had to do something like put a catheter in, we'd take the dog to the back of the hospital away from mom where they were almost uniformly perfect. By contrast, just about every pet throws a fit when mom's in the room.

    The expectation that the horse has of its owner is a lot different than it has of a stranger who means business--and that can be a really complicated issue.

    In some ways I think horses can feel more "secure" about being super naughty with their owners, because they know (after pulling these things several times) we won't disown them. She knows you'll always be back. The trainer, however, might kill her and has nothing to lose! The trainer can go into that situation with a clear head, which already gives her an advantage.

    Keep at it! She's still young.

  5. honeyfish- I hadn't even thought of that angle. I know that to be true with my five year old child; she feels safe around me so she lets herself melt down in a way she doesn't with other people.

    I'm trying to find the balance between being all business and having a relationship with my horse. It's all about that zen line. :)