Monday, December 2, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over

My calendar was full for today, but ironically, everyone else canceled on me, leaving me a whole day to do what I desired, and I desired to ride a horse on the trails.  I rode Bombay last time, so I rode Rock this time, and Rock decided to begin testing me.

Let me first say that my mount was sloppy.  I bent my fingernail backwards and slammed down into the saddle while screeching in pain, which caused Rock to walk off.  He was wandering around aimlessly with me holding my finger saying, "Owwwww!" with one leg hanging out of the stirrup.  Normally, you just say whoa and he stops, but he wouldn't stop, so I had to lean down and twist the stirrup onto my foot while he was walking in circles.  Of course, as soon as I aimed him up the driveway, he suddenly acted like he was crippled and couldn't move.

I pushed and pushed until he finally started moving out on the trails, but he was walking in a zigzag pattern, turning his head and gawking at everything.  I struggled to aim him straight and began truly appreciating all the arena and dressage training my other horses had.  I mean how hard is it to follow a brown trail when everything around it is green?  Yet Rock acted like walking straight and staying on the trail was too much for me to ask of him.

Then his true intentions came out.  He was going off trail because he wanted to eat the green grass and was actually zigzagging from bush to bush.  He began snatching branches and leaves, and I kept pulling his head away and saying no.  So, obviously, it is difficult for a horse to follow a brown trail when everything around it is deliciously green.  Then he plowed right into this one bush and started feasting on it, completely ignoring all of my cues and verbal reprimands.  He's strong and can pull harder on the reins than I can.  I got mad and grabbed the saddle strings and slapped him with them a little too hard.  They made a loud snap and he jumped in shock.

He continued walking down the trail like I asked, but some bug flew behind us and I think he thought it was the noise of the saddle strings about to descend on his rump, so he humped his back up like he was ready to buck.  I stroked his neck so he'd know where my hands were.  He realized I wasn't about to whip him again, and he relaxed.

He's an odd horse, because on one hand he is very steady, while on the other hand I suspect he's been abused because he overreacts to corrections.  There was a period of time right after we got him when I couldn't just reach up and pet him, because he'd jump sideways as if he expected me to hit him.  Maybe it was just because my other horses where biting and kicking him whenever he got close, but it took a while for him to learn that a hand coming at his face or body is just going to pet him.

I felt bad about whipping him so hard, but it worked.  He didn't grab anymore bushes after that, and if he thought about it, all I had to do was give him a verbal correction.

The gawking was still a problem, though.  Each time he'd turn his head to look at something, he'd wander off the trail.  A couple of times he cranked his head to look behind him and practically turned all the way around in the process.  So, I kept squeezing and pestering him with my legs to speed up and focus on where we are going.  It was frustrating, because with the other horses I can enjoy the scenery by looking all around us, and they remain focused on the trail, but with Rock, anytime that I turn my own head or even avert my eyes, he'd turn in whatever direction I was looking.  Some would say that's a good thing, but I believe that where we are going and where I am looking should be two independent things.  So, when I knew I had to turn my head, I'd hold the opposite rein from where I'm looking taut by pulling down and out, and that helped keep him on track.

I tried to stop him to take pictures, but he was insistent on moving since we were headed toward home.  Once again I felt like I was driving a bulldozer with no brakes.  I did get him stopped a couple of times, but he expressed his annoyance by throwing his head around, and then walking off.  This was a stark contrast from earlier when we were heading away from the barn and I said, "What...?" and he halted at the "Wh."

I was watching Julie Goodnight's TV show the other day and she was talking about using your hips as driving and steering support.  I don't do that much, so I worked with that on Rock to try to keep him centered on the trail.  Sometimes he responded and sometimes not.  At one point all I had to do was lift a rein and he turned without me having to pull, so I gave him praise for that.  When we got home, he licked my hand, so all was good.  We fight, and then we make up.


Ian H said...

Does he act up like this when another horse is with him?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ian - This is the first time he has acted up. He's been ridden out both with other horses and alone.

fernvalley01 said...

hmm, trying to see where his boundaries are I think, god that you pushed back. He sounds like a sweet horse

Christle said...

I loved this post but OUCH, I couldn't stop cringing at the fingernail haha! That hurts so much!