Monday, July 29, 2013

Falling From Grace

Also known as 'Quit Yer Braggin'.  I had a phenomenal dressage lesson on Tessa on Thursday.  She was forward and in the bridle and lifting her back.  We worked on my position and posting softer and letting my hands move at the walk and canter, but not at the trot.  And I was feeling pleased as punch about our progress.  I mean, I was REALLY pleased.  So pleased that I gave the pony the next day off.

Friday I came out and gave Tessa full on bath.  She did really well.  She got a little antsy at the end, so I didn't do much with cleaning her face, but overall it was very successful.

Saturday she had a day off to romp around the pasture with her latest turnout buddy, who is a 15.3 (she actually might be 16 hands by now) two year old filly.

So when I showed up to ride Sunday, I'll admit I had expectations of greatness.  She was well rested.  She was clean.  Although I had worn spurs in my dressage lesson, I like to leave them off when I'm practicing.  I'm not asking for lateral movements, so I feel like I don't need spurs.  I do carry a whip, but that's sort of  'dressage standard practice' and I use it to tap her to remind her to pay attention sometimes.

I got on and she was sluggish.  I asked for trot.  It was like riding through molasses.  She hunched her shoulders up and wiggled and resisted.  There was no motor at all.  I haven't felt her this bottled up in a long time.  She was a cranky pony.

Someone walked by the open arena door with a little dog.  Nothing Tessa hasn't seen before.  However, her reaction was as if someone had tried to light her tail on fire.  She threw her head back far enough to graze my nose and took off at a gallop, starting to buck.  I pulled her back down (I know, the gallop was good but I can't guarantee that I can sit a gallop AND a buck) and tried for working trot.  I got a little bit but it was WORK.  I was getting frustrated.  And when you get frustrated, it's really hard to be a good and fair rider.  I wanted to yank on her face and kick her in the sides.  Yeah, it's not pretty to even admit that, but it's true.  I did not do those things.

Instead, I got off.  And I asked Leila (who was there so I could take some pictures of her adorable horse Knox, who is going up for sale) to get on and give her a schooling ride.

Since I had my camera, I took some pictures of Leila and Tessa.  She asked her to trot and Tessa firmly said no.  Leila said 'please' and asked again with a tap of the whip.  Tessa gave her the pony finger.  Well, that's unacceptable so Tessa got a smart smack with the whip.  Which resulted in the biggest buck I have EVER seen the pony do.  Sadly, I missed the exact right moment.  But I caught on camera ALL the ugly that happened afterwards.  For your photo enjoyment, I present Tessa's Bad Moment.
Forward?  No.  See the tail?  The tail says no.

I will not go forward.  You can't make me.  And I'm going to try and whip you in the face with my crazy tail.

Right after the big buck.  The only evidence is dirt clouds behind her feet.  I realize it may look like Leila is pulling her head this way, but that's not the case.  When the pony gets upset, this is her natural head carriage.

Leila looks so calm as the pony turns into a camel.

You want forward?  Fine, I'm running away.

I'm running away AND I'm going to turn my head so it's harder to control me.

Running is hard.  How about I slow down a bit?  But I'm still not giving you the outside rein because I don't like you.

What if I bend my head this way?  You can't ride me if I'm bent THIS WAY!

Damn.  That didn't work.  I will now bend the other way?  Here's my camel impression again?  It's good, right?  And camels don't have to go forward!

I'm not looking.  I'm not looking.

This lady is not giving up and she's STILL facing the same direction.  I guess I'll face that way too.

Oh, alright.  I could give in a little bit.

I look purty when I trot.

Oh look.  I haz straightness and forward!

I did notice something after I took these photos.  I think the saddle had slipped forward and then got even more forward when she bucked.  Tessa has very sloped shoulders, no withers and a forward girth so it can be a challenge to keep the saddle in the right place.  I will be making extra sure to get that saddle back far enough next time, just in case that was contributing to the problem.

After her training ride with Leila, we took this hilarious photo.  I look spastic and my pony...well, she couldn't care less.
Hey crazy lady, are you done yet?  I see a patch of grass with my name on it.


  1. Oohhh...rotten, opinionated pony! She sure tried Leila's patience, but, Leila looks like she is a confident, quiet, yet persistent rider who doesn't take any crap from Miss Opinionated herself. Tessa needed a Leila ride, it seems. You did good by getting off when you hit that high frustration/anger level. I've been there and know that it's time to get off and call it done when I feel myself getting to that point.

    Have you ever tried to keep track of her cycles? With the on again, off again pissiness, she may be one of those mares who get strong, painful cycles, which can definitely contribute to an attitude and a less-than-willingness to be amicable under saddle and the tail-swishing. I would be willing to bet about a week or two before she comes into heat is when she is at her worst.

  2. Oh, Tessa! She is so pretty in that last trot photo, and I love the photo of the two of you, it's hilarious!
    I get cranky at my ponies too, sometimes, and I always just quit when I feel it coming on. If I'm having a bad day I will just not even get on. Saddle time should be happy time :)

  3. Haha! That's what Psycho Mare looked like in her last class at the show! Oh, how naughty she was... I loved watching the progression as Tessa worked through her camel phase and came back into herself! And that last picture is priceless!

  4. One word, Martingale. They can't evade and get their head way up there when they want to be bad. I use one on William, who tries the same tricks sometimes. Standing martingale...I would try one.

  5. Oh but that trot when Tessa decides to play along? Makes you want to push through all the bad when you know they have it in them!