Last weekend I got to hop up in the saddle on Cindy's horse Trax. I admit I was a little nervous at first as he tried to scoot a little under me while we figured each other out. I was riding without stirrups and Cindy explained that things bumping his sides makes Trax a little nervous and uncomfortable. I slipped my feet in the stirrups to keep them from bumping his sides and he settled right down. Life was good and we moved on. Once Trax figured out what was being asked of him, he did really well. Cindy hopped on him, we worked on a few things and they worked it out beautifully.
I have been thinking all week about that short ride and how the methods we used on her horse might relate to my mare Aruba. I rode her this weekend and what a ride it was. First she was a bit lit and didn't want to be caught. Fine by me, get it all out now... When she finally settled down and let me catch her, I took her away from her food. She wants to be that way? I can too. I tacked her up and led her out to the arena and got on. I had invited Cindy over, but life threw things in her way and it wasn't to be. Another day, no biggie.
I tacked her up western and figured we would just work on walking around, softening work and getting lateral movement. Maybe we would try trotting, depending on how things went. It all started off well enough, she was semi soft, semi responsive and a decent dose of resistant. It's ok because its been a while since I've ridden her and pushed her buttons, making her do anything. Nothing we couldn't work thru and life isn't always perfect. So it goes.
She worked well enough to both the left and right, still a little squirrelly here and there, kept breaking into a trot but slowed down and stopped when asked. I finally allowed her to trot and we worked a little to the left, my better side, and we worked a little to the right, her better side and there were good moments and not so good moments. That's to be expected and I wasn't surprised, but she was not thrilled about being taken away from her food, kept getting distracted by things outside the fence and not exactly focused on her work. A few times at the trot, she threw her head a bit and sorta offered to break into a lope. She does that now and then as a way of venting her frustration.
We were going to the right when it happened. Aruba had enough and decided to show it. She started to speed up, throwing her head all over and started to bounce. I put my right leg on her and asked her to bend and about then she blew. She threw her head, arched her back, launched into a lope and started crow hopping, throwing in a few solid bucks as well. She wasn't watching where she was going though and headed right for the fence. In the process of her losing her mind, I lost my stirrups, let go of the left rein and was grabbing the saddle horn. I seen the ground going by underneath us, seen the fence ahead of us and could only think she would either stop or it was about to get ugly. I managed to sit upright, pulled her head around tight to the right and said Whoa!!! Graceful I was not, but I was still on my horse. I call that a Win!
She stopped and I verbally laid into her. I called her a few colorful words, told her she was NOT unloading me today and she better not pull any of that crap again! I got my stirrups, pulled her around and kicked her one and boy did she change her attitude in a good way. She was suddenly responsive, agreeable, focused and worked like she should. She quit throwing her head and settled right down to work. She was soft and working off the backend like she was supposed to. We trotted big circles both to the left and to the right, she was consistent in her gait and soft in the bridle. We worked both ways of the arena twice and I called it quits. I had thought about using my spurs as she tends to lean on or ignore your legs, but I was greatful I had left them off. Had I spurred her in the middle of her tantrum, who knows how that would have ended. I'm just wondering how it will go when I ride her tomorrow. Let's hope she remembers my lecture from today...