First of all. I'm doing lousy on my challenge. Darn it! I'm actually putting on weight, and I only rode three times last week. I do have one good excuse. The chiropractor worked on my mare so I had to give her a few days off. This week won't be much better as the arena is getting new footing and will be closed for a few days.
I hope everyone else is doing better than me. Let me know.
Here's the post I promised for this this week.
I’m not a brave rider, though most people look at the shear bulk and size of my mare and can’t believe it, but it is true. I’ve had a 10-year history with this particular horse. I bought her as a barely-broke three year old. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know some of the trials and tribulations I’ve been through over the years with her. I can honestly say that for the past several years, she’s been a very safe horse to ride. She’s never had a buck or a rear in her—too much work. Though as a greenie, she did have a balk. The worst think she does is shy. I’m not talking about the leap out from under you and whirl around shying—again, too much work. But she does her “cutting horse” thing where she gets down low until her belly is about a foot off the ground—a sight to see from a 17-hand warmblood. Then she does a slow motion pivot and lumbers the other direction.
My trainer rode her on Monday, so I was looking forward to a good ride on Tuesday. She started out being her usual self, trying to get out of work by shying in a particular corner. I now know that if I wave the whip in front of her shoulder that she’ll go into that corner with minimal fuss. Again, too much work to fight it and get in trouble.
Well she starts getting really fussy. Not unusual considering she’s in heat. So I’m trying to post rather than sit. We head to the spooky corner, she plants all four feet and stops. I try a shoulder-in to get her by the corner. She started backing up, slamming her big butt into the metal arena gate and refusing to budge. She bends the gate. At this point, I realize that the gate is no match for her 1500 pounds. All I care about is safety and survival (not necessarily in that order). She is in a major snit. Normally, I’d turn her in a tight circle to get her moving again. But I can’t. Her butt is plastered on the gate. I try to maneuver her away from the gate. Not a good idea. She starts backing up against the flimsy railing of the small stands in the arena. If she busts through that she’s going to break right through those first set of bleachers. Damn. I have a problem.
I give her a good smack on the butt. She goes up (about a foot, not much). Okay, more smacks. After all, I’m worried about her safety and mine. Now is not the time to be delicate. I get her going forward again. She plants her feet near the corner. Now, she switches tactics. Instead of not wanting to go in this corner, she starts backing into it.
There are over a dozen trotting poles piled vertically in this corner and a mirror. If she backs into them they’re coming down on us not to mention we could break the mirror. Again, I can’t turn her. I am kicking her for all I’m worth. Finally between kicking, cowboying her head around, I manage to drive her forward. We trot a large circle. She’s sucking back every step of the way. She attempts to stop in the corner again and back toward the poles. I’m using everything I’ve got to kick her forward. I throw the reins away. I’m panting, she’s huffing. Two or three more turns around the circle, she’s finally moving forward, fussy as can be, and backing off the bit (never her problem, she prefers leaning). By the fourth circle, she’s feeling pretty good. Forward and powerful and listening and not hesitating when she goes by the spooky corner. She’s still feels funny in the bridle. I let go of the curb rein completely (I’m riding in a double bridle) as she had been known to have fits if you hold onto the curb too tight. You have to be really careful with the curb.
I look down, and see her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth. Halting her, I leap off. A double bridle has two bits, a curb and a snaffle. She’s managed to get her tongue between the curb and snaffle so it’s being pinched. I fix it, get back on, and off we go, as if nothing ever happened.
I felt like a real rat. The poor girl was trying to tell me that something was wrong, and I completely missed the problem. She’d never done that before, so I wasn’t really expecting it. Now I know.