Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Temper, Temper

Mine and Theirs

I got a load of hay as soon as I got home. Second cutting, and nice.

Then I fed the Boys, ate a snack and when a good hour had gone by, I went out to ride.

Tucker was first. The walk warmup was pretty good with some pirouettes. Then I asked for trot and he pulled the ears back, "I won't go unless you ask really politely," trick. After a big sigh I worked through that, go some decent trot work with some nice leg yields, and then cantered a bit. We worked on the canter walk transistions. Eventually he was actually doing the downward better on the right than the left, so, I quit the exercise and went on to something more interesting.

I invented another first level test and again, the work was good until we crossed the diagonal and Tucker decided to shy at some rails lying on the ground. At that point, I lost my patience about it all. That sort of thing just happens too often. I rode the diagonal again, insisting he stay in the correct frame and correct forwardness. That was fixed until I tried a canter trot transition crossing the other diagonal and Tucker decided to throw his head and fall onto the right rein instead of carrying himself.

There was no excuse I could fathom, so we did the exercise again, and again, and again, and again, until finally, he decided it wasn't worth the nonsense and gave me a good downward without all the crooked evasions. By then, the one benefit was that his canter was really uphill and actually bounding along from the hind end, so I took advantage of it and tried to finish up with one more canter walk. Voila! I was great, so we quit for the night.

This time my temper tantrum and his paid off in the end.

Then I took Chance out on the lines. While it was better than the last time, he still insisted on being very erratic with his head no matter how hard I worked to keep the outside contact even and light. It took quite a while to get him steady on the left rein, but he finally managed two full circles without a fuss, so I brought him in and switched directions.

The right rein is usually better. Tonight it was worse. He tried to fall out to the gate, he tried to spin around back on to the left. And then, when I finally asked for canter, he would not take the right lead. Things went from bad to worse. At one point, mostly because my knees are so bad I can't really run with him, he got away from me and trotted off with the lines dragging behind.

Fortunately, I have battled all of these evasions before so I knew if I stuck at it, we would reach some kind of resolution.

Frankly, Chance surprised me with his nearly equal determination. It took nearly an hour of all kinds of tricks and techniques, but eventually, I managed to get him to take the right lead three times in a row and decided that was enough. He was sweating, I was aggravated, and I can only hope we made some kind of breakthrough.

Usually, by the time I first canter a horse I have trained, taking the correct lead is no longer an issue. Until I can get Chance reliably on that lead on the long lines every time I ask, he is not ready to canter with a rider. At the moment, it looks like we have a few more weeks of lining ahead of us.

He needs to learn not to fight the rein and to respond to the voice commands with much more respect. And I, again, need to find the patience to train him. I see a little stubborn streak in him again that I saw the first time I lunged him. It's not dangerous, just a bit of an "attitude."

Nothing I haven't dealt with before. After all, my other horses have all been Thoroughbreds--the masters of temperament.

Some days it just isn't easy.


  1. How in the world do you teach all day and then teach horses at night? Do you often fall asleep standing up???

  2. james we develop reserves of stamina that occasionally give out on us, don't we jean?

    the temper is sometimes useful, the difficult bit being to know when, and use it properly instead of just having a rant!!!!! as I know. I can't get the balance right at the moment, but at least if i don't have to fight the head it'll be easier!

    an hour! nightmare. i sympathise on being unable to keep up in trot or canter I wouldn't be able to either...