Friday, January 31, 2014

Horse Happenings

I've been busy babysitting all week, which is another story in itself, so I haven't had any horse time until today when my husband was able to take over the babysitting side of things.  All the horses were exercised, and because it was cold, overcast and windy, the Arabs were wild.  Both Bombay and Lostine were racing in circles out of control, getting their ya-yas out.

I did some groundwork with Rock and tried the basic beginnings of sidepassing along the fence, and he was able to do it for a few steps before getting out of alignment again.  I also rode him in the arena and just wanted to ask him to do a variety of moves and observe his reaction to them.  He was sluggish in the sand when I rode alone.  Then P.S. rode Gabbrielle behind him and he went even slower, trying to figure out what she was doing back there.  We switched places and Rock clearly did not like having a girl, or anybody, in front of him.  He kept trying to pass her, so I held him back.  I've got to fix that, because when he is in the lead, he seems to jerk the horse in back around by walking super slow and weaving back and forth so that they can't pass.  Then when another horse is in the front, he's suddenly in this big rush to get ahead.

P.S. had to go, so I kept riding him while she led Gabbrielle out of the arena, and Rock tried to follow.  I reminded him that he doesn't make the decisions.  He sulked by sludging along and then getting pissy when I pushed him to walk faster.  I got him busy doing a variety of maneuvers, and waited for anything that resembled a spook.  The dogs were barking next door, the horse next door was kicking its fence and throwing a bucket around, the wind slammed the barn gate really loudly, but nothing spooked him... until I spoke.

It was just a flinch and slight jerk to the side, but it was clearly in reaction to my tone of voice.  I've been suspicious that there might be something about the way we speak that makes him flip out, because I started to say something to Rock right before he spooked with me on the trail, and my husband started to say something to me right before Rock spooked with him.  It's either like he forgets that someone is on his back, and they take him by surprise by speaking, or someone used to yell at him right before they beat him, so he's associating a sudden human voice on his back with something worse.  The odd thing was that I talk to other riders all the time when I'm riding him and he doesn't react during our conversations.  It's just if we've been quiet a while and then his rider starts to speak, whether they be speaking to him or someone else.

So, I think I'll entertain the neighbors by riding him around in the arena talking out loud in different tonalities and volumes, getting quiet, and then speaking again, and see if there is a pattern there.  If he flips out in the arena, at least I can land in the soft sand.  I also realized that his saddle doesn't exactly lend itself to helping people stick.  It has a rough out seat, which I thought would offer friction, but my other saddles with the smooth leather stick better.


Sam said...

Oh the mystery that is Rock...

I wonder, though, if he is now spooking at voices since he has managed to knock folks off twice due to that and it makes him nervous? It may be the result, rather than the cause?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Christine - Perhaps. Spooks beget spooks. Maybe the falls scared him more than he let on.