Sunday, October 30, 2011

The unfortunate truth is that my horse and I both suffer from the same mentality: passive aggressive stubborness.

It causes us a lot of trouble while practicing and training, one which W never hestitates to remind me could be rectified if I simply relaxed, unbraced and remained fluid. We get a lot of nice rides when this happens, and these rides most often occur during lessons. Why? Because W is there to chastise me into behaving myself!

So Saturday I was back at the barn doing some work with Moon and it started out rough as it had the last two rides. With Moon refusing to stand at the mounting block. Now I will conceed that I lack a great deal of patience. The first time he misbehaves I'm fine being gentle and re-asking. The second time, I'm frustrated. The third time, I'm just mad. It's odd since I'm normally not an 'angry person', but he just knows how to try my patience. Yesterday when he acted like the mounting block would eat him (as another very talented rider was trotting around, certainly watching our antics) I told myself to take a breath and keep asking.

We circled the mounting block 6 times before he finally stood and let me get on. By this point, the other girl had unmounted and left the ring!

He started off rushing, and I again, was so tired of him starting every ride like that. I turned him right into the arena wall. You wanna go, well then go. Right through the wall. He's not stupid. He stopped and we continued on with him moving a lot better.

He was still calling. I've noticed that this only happens during our daytime rides...when all the horses are out on pasture...and I noticed the last two times, it wasn't Mr. Moon doing the first call. It's his girlfriend. She runs the fenceline and their paddock is right next to the indoor ring. When she calls, he calls back. And then we get into an argument about behavior. W had suggested bringing Ebony into the barn so she wouldn't be running around frantic, but I think that's just feeding the herd-bound behavior. I won't do that. They NEED seperation. Technically, I think I need to get on him and ride him down the street a couple times. This is why I HATE keeping just 2 horses together. They more frequently become inseperable.

Regardless, we had some lovely movements at a walk. Soft and supple. At a trot we were doing well all things considered, and I (again, losing patience) started to actually give him a kick when he swung his butt out on the circle. He KNOWS better. But he can be soo stubborn!

Then I went to practice my sitting trot. W started me working on a small circle to develop my sitting trot and I thought I'd use the same routine, but without stirrups so I wouldn't be able to cheat and start posting.

Let me say it's a battle of wills.

The sitting trot is crazy hard for me. It requires you to relax through the hips and swing freely. I pinch at the knees when riding normally, never mind when being bounced off a horse.

Our attempts at sitting trot go like this:

Ask Moon for trot. Trots off beautifully.
I sit a few strides decently, but still bouncy.
Moon thinks I'm bouncing too much and shortens his strides 'cause I'm thumping on his poor back.
I'm now bouncing worse b/c he's short strided. So I clutch his sides with my knees.
He thinks it's getting worse and begins throwing his head in the air and moving with his neck twisted.
Now I'm bouncing clear out of the saddle, clining with my knees, slapping his mouth since my hands are flapping in the air and he's upset about the whole thing and trying to rush off out from under me, because I'm now a bouncing sack of rocks on his back that's pinching his sides and smashing his mouth.

Yip. And every time it fell apart, I halted, walked off again and asked for another circle.

After 15 minutes of this, I think we were ready to kill each other. I'm embarrassed to admit I was actually snapping outloud: "Well if you'd just trot nice and slow I wouldn't bounce so dang much! It's your own dang fault!".

And yes, there were people in the barn. I think they were likely pissing themselves laughing. Seriously, it's not like Moon understood and the truth is, if I could sit the trot he wouldn't be trotting so stupid!

We finished the ride with a bit of serpentines and I asked him to give me 3 nice 20m posting trot circles without falling out or taking away the bend. He did it. End on a positive note.

Stubborn (and always needing to win) I made him stand while I mounted a few times. I jumped on the mounting block while he stood still. I jumped on and off of it. I bounced in the stirrup. I bounced on his back (poor bugger), and I got on, asked for a few steps, dismounted and then did it all again. He didn't move an inch unless asked.

Someone tell me why he can't START a ride this way!!!

P.S. I rubbed the sides of my knees raw from pinching. Seriously. : P


  1. Hi having read all this I feel I can relate to you in many ways. Niko can frustrate me something wicked, but at the end of the day if I get frustrated my ride goes down the plug hole and I feel like a complete ass for getting angry. You say he swung his but out on the circle and that he knows better, I am sorry to say it but he’s going to do these things, he isn’t grand prix level and he isn’t perfect, it’s not your job to get frustrated it’s your job to correct him and carry on, you need to use your outside leg to control his back end and when you are on a circle you should have the inside leg by the girth and bring the outside leg back ever so slightly, you probably already knew that but I am just trying to help.

    You also said that you are having trouble with the sitting trot, you must not, no matter what happens, grip with your knees, griping with will force you up out of the saddle as you start to force yourself up out of the saddle you’ll get more bumpy and then tense, you also said about smashing his mouth, so I would suggest you have lunge lessons to get you sitting at the trot, that way you won’t have the reins and won’t run the risk of jagging him in the mouth.

    Also you say he is all of a rush when you first start, well think about it what did you just post about before this post? He is getting some muscle on him now and he’s going to be feeling fit and full of himself so yes he’s going to rush, when you first start you should be doing a lot of walk which I imagine he is ok in when you go up to trot he’ll probably get a bit of a wiggle on that’s when you really need to relax and rise slowly if you are doing the rising trot.

    Anyway if I have offended you with anything I’ve said I am truly sorry most of the time it the riders fault not the horses and getting frustrated won’t help you or Moon, I think you and Moon make a nice team and the best of luck to you both I am sure you’ll get this.

  2. I can relate to the mounting block issue! My pony would start to leave as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup. What helped me was deciding that for a week I was going to focus ONLY on that issue. So if it meant that we didn't get started for an hour then we took an hour. We would approach the mounting block and I would stand on top of it, banging things around. If she she moved I would put her back in place. I kept a tighter hold on the outside rein so I could stop her sooner. Then I would put a foot in the stirrup, say 'Whoa' and put a tiny bit of weight in it. If she moved off, I put her back and did it again. Then when I finally was on, I would make her stand while I shifted around, lifted my legs up and down and just generally futzed around. I did this EVERY day for a week. The first day it took about twenty minutes. The second day it took ten. The third day it took five. And by the end of the week she stood like a champ when I said "Whoa" and got on. It REALLY helped me to think that the mounting WAS the issue I was working on. If I thought of myself as a trainer working with a horse who had to be taught to stand at the mounting block, I had a lot more patience with the pony AND with myself.

  3. Sorry you're feeling frustrated - that happens to all of us. Perhaps he doesn't stand at the mounting block because he doesn't know how to . . . because he was trained (by mistake) by someone else to fidget and walk off. Perhaps he rushes because he thinks that that is what he's supposed to do. . . Just be calm and patient and clear, and things may be easier - and I know how hard that can be.