Tessa is low on the herd totem pole. Not that we have herds at our barn, but if we did she would rank low. Every horse that she has been turned out with, she has been lower than. I've never seen her offer to kick. The most she's done is pin her ears and swish her tail at one mare that insisted on pushing her around the pasture constantly. But she kept going....
Now, when it comes to human interactions, Tessa is not so low. She's more middle of the road. She swishes her tail and occasionally stamps her foot while I'm brushing her in places she doesn't want me to. She bites the air if I brush her chest. She pins her ear and snaps at the crossties when I girth her up.
This translates to the same attitude under saddle, unfortunately. I ask for canter and she stops and kicks out. Then she bucks and takes off. Then she kicks at the leg and throws her head in my face.
We worked on that today and after having a huge pony meltdown, the rest of our ride was pretty awesome. My trainer suggested I wear 'real spurs' rather than the little plastic ball ones I have on. She said that having a spur will stop me from nagging Tessa constantly. I see her point, sort of. She's saying that we have GOT to quit having the same argument over and over. That putting on spurs that are more uncomfortable (we're still talking bitty english spurs here people, not big scary spurs) will do two things. One, they will make the pony really unhappy because it will be really uncomfortable when she gets a spur in her side. Two, they will force the pony and I to have it out. Most likely, the pony will react with some super anger and I'll have to deal with it and then maybe we can move on from this argument.
It's not just about forward, it's that I put my leg on and ask her hindquarters to move over and she completely ignores me. I use my spur (my little plastic round ones) and she ignores that too. I tap with the whip and she ignores that. I tap harder and she stops and kicks out. I keep tapping, she keeps kicking. Then she'll buck hard and take off, basically giving me the pony finger. But she STILL doesn't want to move off that damn leg!
My trainer said she's just a b*tch. Is she really? She's not super bitchy on the ground and she's certainly not bitchy around other horses. But is how a horse is in the herd even relevant to how they are under saddle?
Right. So, I had a good ride. I love my crabby pony. And I'm going to ponder this some. I welcome your ponderings on this as well.