Saturday, October 22, 2011

Back in the Saddle Blues

After another whole week away from the barn thanks to a job that lets me travel, I awoke this morning, pulled on my winter riding boots (it was 1 degree cold) and headed over to W's, hoping to beat the mid-morning rush.

As seems to be the usual, I arrived when no one was around but W and J rebedding the stalls. W's new little puppy was underfoot, reminding me to appreciate my grown and trained dog. Especially when the little devil stole my beautiful wood finishing brush and settled down in a pile of hay to chew on it. Oye.

Moon still had his big box stall and was out in the paddock with his buddy Ebony. I let him graze a bit then headed inside to get ready. The puppy was underfoot making W a little nervous about her getting stomped or trodden-on, which is always understandable considering the unpredictable nature of horses. Moon is such a dog lover, as J picked the puppy up and put her in front of Moon. Who stood there patiently while the puppy licked all over his nose! Moon seriously had a look of "if you must, just don't expect me to act like I'm enjoying it or anything."

Tacked and in the ring, I had to again deal with his calling. I was doing tight circles to try and curb him of the behavior, but W caught sight of us once, and I instantly felt guilty. THIS is an issue of mine. I have zero problem with reprimanding my creatures when they are misbehaving. My dog is a dream to handle, and I never hesitated to pin her on her side when she misbehaved or scruff her when she runs away or chases after a wild animal. Animals require a certain amount of physical touch to comprehend and develop a level of respect. I'm not saying beating them, but in these instances, a tight circle I don't deem inappropriate...or do I?

Because whenever someone catches me doing it, I get completely guilty and stop. Which probably doesn't help enforce the correct behavior, rather resulting in inconsistent reprimands. Oye.

Anyway, things continued downhill. He was wired, and I urged him into a canter. And yes, we got some cantering on the circle, which is a step forward. If we didn't subsequently take a ton of steps backwards.

Trot transitions. I had my ipod and earbuds in, hoping the rythym would help me not rush my posting. Well, I should first point out that this is the PERFECT way to judge the smoothness of your transitions. Why? Because the ipod touch has a feature where if you shake it, it shuffles to a new song...

And every time our transition was rough, I got a new song. Sometimes, my posting was jostling because he wasn't maintaining a rythym...and we shuffled through 5 songs in one 20 m circle!

Going right, he was throwing his hips out at the open side of the circle, riding square on the closed side, he kept forcing his head low, overbending at the neck, bracing, evil-bunny facing, and the worst? Mini-rears and bucks. Going left, he was obstinate, refusing to go forward, pawing like crazy and just 'angry' for lack of a better term. He overall just seemed MAD when asked to trot.

Which seemed (and still seems) odd. He seemed almost hypersensitive to my leg and almost as though he was sore or uncomfortable. At a walk I had reaching, I had bending, I did serpentines and leg yields, with no complaint. I got his best turn-on-the-fore to the left yet. His halts were really great and it was an acceptable and pretty standard warm-up ride that would lead me to believe we could have a productive work session. Even his canter work, while rushed and included a couple low bucks, was not out of character and more illustrative of pent-up energy then pain or irriation.

But the trot transitions...something didn't feel right.

I told W about it, and asked for a Monday evening lesson. Perhaps with two lessons next week we might be able to recapture the movement and knowledge he had before I left. Or track down what's bothering him or how to correct him. And if I should just tell him to smarten up and get on with the riding...

Who knows.

I did manage a few cute pics while I was out though. All I know now is that I want to get back out there tomorrow and see if I can figure out what's going on (or not going on). Oye. Horses.

"Tumbleweed" a horse that's a thousand times more gorgeous then her name suggests; don't you just WANT that mane! : )

Moon and his 'girlfriend' in their paddock...she's gorgeous and stately, he's a complete doufus.

What Moon REALLY thinks. : P


  1. Love the pictures! That last one is super cute. :) I always do something with my horse when she calls... sometimes I back her, sometimes circle her, but I never let it go. Sometimes, for some people, ignoring it will make it go away, but not with my horse. So I don't think you should feel guilty at all about making him work when he calls for the other horses.

  2. I love your pictures as well! He may be a doofus, but he's an adorable doofus. I hope he's not in pain, but in my experience a horse (particularly with joint issues) will stride out beautifully at the walk but would much rather canter than do anything more than shuffle at the trot. Of course every horse is an individual. I don't care what they say, Geldings have their Mare moments too:)

  3. I love the picutres :) Moon is such a cutie :)!
    Sometimes we have not so good rides but we learn to apprecaite the good ones from them.
    I think its good you make him work when he's calling for other horses, you don't have to feel bad.

  4. I love Moon! I think he's my favorite horse in the blogger world...maybe that's because he reminds me of Grayson. But he's soooo darn cute and he's such a goof. Plus I have a thing for horses with blazes.

  5. Beautiful pics! I love the one of moon and his girlfriend!

  6. Hi! I have an award for you over at my blog. Please don't feel like you have to redo if you already got this award - I was late getting to it!

  7. I'm surprised Moon's still calling. I think it's normal for horses to do that when they are in a new arena, away from other horses and over-excited by new smells and sounds. When you were hauling in for lessons, he settled into the routine and stopped calling after a few trips, right?

    Handsome used to do the same thing - big loud neighs that were really annoying. I just ignored it and kept doing whatever I was doing; I didn't make a big fuss. After two rides in a new place, he quits calling. Every once and a while he still gets the desire to neigh for horses beyond the arena walls, but instead of ear-splitting bugles, they are soft little squeaks.

    I know you've said Moon knows how to drive you nuts, and sometimes he goes out of his way to push your buttons. Maybe try ignoring his calls next time and see if he gets bored of doing it.

  8. Ironically I tried the 'I'll just ignore him' option many times. First when we were hauling in (he actually didn't call under about 4 months into hauling in, when he suddenly started), and then subsequently during the initial move. Now that he's been alone in the area since the move about 10 times, I'm starting to believe that ignoring isn't doing me any favors. Especially since he gets WORSE when uncorrected.

    The spinning was starting to be effective where when I even STARTED to ask for a spin, he quit his calling and got back to work. Until W saw me and I stopped...and he started up his calling again! Bad on me!

    The BOs have told me he wonderfully well settled in, but yesterday when I brought him in to ride, the horse he shares a paddock with started going crazy up and down the fenceline...REALIZATION Moment: Separation Anxiety is WORSE when there's only 2 horses in a paddock. Which is the case at W's. I'm gonna keep working the 'correction' clause and see if that makes a difference. 10 rides with each tactic before moving on? : )

    And yes, I do think he really does just love driving me nuts!