Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Week of No Pony and Too Much Thinking

We've had off and on snow this week, with another round headed our way.  This has led to school closures, which means I haven't made it to the barn.  My five year old does not have the horse bug and it's never a good time with her out at the barn.

It's been a hard week, mentally.  I've spent a lot of time worrying, thinking, overthinking and chewing on the problem of Tessa's lack of forward and her attitude about it.  I KNOW that it's me, since every other trainer can get on her and after one half hearted attempt at a buck, she goes forward the rest of the time.  Their solution is that I need to get after her hard enough so that she gets the message.  The dog trainer in me knows this (it's never good to pick at your dog, just correct them hard enough to only have to do it once) and yet it's not working with Tess.  I correct harder, she bucks harder.

So here are some of my new theories and thoughts.

1.  I am clenching with my legs when I ask her for forward and especially when I get after her.  Knowing she's going to put in a big buck makes it challenging for me to relax.
2.  I am pulling back on her mouth when I'm asking for forward or I am dropping the contact altogether so I can grab her mane.  Again, knowing she's going to throw her head in the air and then follow it up with a giant buck hasn't really given me much confidence in keeping a light, steady contact.
3.  At this point, what I am doing is not working.  If I'm having to get after her more and more and her bucks are getting bigger and bigger, whatever I'm doing (correcting her, clenching, pulling back) is not effective.

I got the stomach flu today (ugh) and am writing this from bed.  It's possible I'm a bit delirious from my fever, but mostly this is just something I've been thinking on the last week.  With the crazy weather, I may not get out to the barn until this weekend and it will have been a week since I've ridden.  I have been obsessively googling the forward/bucking problem and looking for solutions.  I'm not sure I've found anything yet and I will be talking to my trainers about this again, but I really feel like it's time to try something new.


  1. You've probably got it - you may be giving her inconsistent signals - stop, no go, no stop, no go - if that's the case that's why she's balking/bucking. Your trainer should be able to sort things out - what if they were to have you keep your legs loose and relaxed and hands off her mouth and give the cue with a cluck or whip tap, not using your legs at all? Starting with halt/walk, and once she's got that, moving on to walk/trot. Grippig with the legs can be a pretty effective way to block forward motion.

  2. Do you have a buck strap on your saddle? You can attach one to the D rings. But when I need to really get after my horse, I will grab the strap for extra security during a buck, spook, etc. You can also keep it between your pinky fingers in order to keep your hands steady.

  3. Kate-I'm definitely going to have a chat with my trainers when our snowstorm lets up and the roads are clear.
    Steph- I don't have a buckstrap, but I think I'll get one this week so I don't have to grab her mane.
    I think my new plan is to ask them to lunge me and the pony while I work on staying light and loose with my legs and hands. Of course, it's now been a week since I've ridden and with our weather here (snow followed by freezing rain) it will probably be late this weekend before I get a chance to ride!

  4. I "Liebster Awarded" you ; ) Check my blog for more details : )