Friday, August 31, 2007

Talk to the Horse

But Before That--

I just got back from my eye doctor. Last night I pulled a bunch of cockleburrs out of Chance's mane and forelock. When I came back into the house, I had to change clothes because all these little almost invisible little thorns from the burrs were all over me. Sometime between then and this afternoon, one of those sharp little thorns worked its way into my right eye. Ouch!!

I thought it was out and went swimming in the afternoon only to find my eye was bleeding when I got home. I called my eye doctor's emergency number. Was I in luck!!! He was still at the office. A quick exam and he found the thorn. In a few seconds he had pulled it out. What a relief!! Now, though I have a hole in my eye and have to put antibiotics in every two hours.

One more time I have been injured by a horse--sort of. Wait till I tell my chiropractor about this one. He's going to love it! *G*

Complicated Communication with Tucker.

Here are the basics of what Tucker had to say:

He was pleased to hear that Gabriel liked him and thought he had talent. So that was good.

We asked about his not going forward off the leg. He said sometimes he gets a cramp in his left hind leg that goes all the way up to his back. Then he feels he must kick out and he is afraid of what is next. He says that when I ask him to stride with more power his body gets all confused and he’s not sure he can do it.

This is apparently more emotional than physical. He said he gets worried and confused when he doesn’t understand what to do. “I am afraid of what I don’t know.” He does understand that each extension of each leg needs to have “heart” in it and “My heart just isn’t there.”

He does worry that he is not strong enough to do it, so Jeri tried to explain to him that he will get stronger, but to do that he must do the work. So, I guess Gabriel and I need to find some body building exercises.

Tucker really did not like the idea of someone else riding him to fix the problem with force. He got all “bristly” about that and actually took that teenage attitude of, “Well then I just don’t care either.” When we explained that I may have to resort to that to make him capable and safe, he said, “Roughness isn’t safe.”

We explained how dangerous the rearing is and he said he would try not to, but, “Sometimes my body just does it.” He did say that he would try not to as long as he could remember not to.

Jeri told him walking would help the leg cramp. He also said sometimes when he gets really nervous he gets a sharp quick belly cramp too, but that goes away.

The saddle and bridle are fine and the leg pain is not there all the time, so I suspect it is a muscle cramp or maybe he needs some chiropractic/acupuncture. I can get that done no problem.

The big issue seems to be this concept of “heart.” He says, “My heart is lost and I’m not sure how to find it.” He says he will work with me, and that we must keep our friendship and keep our heart, most important.

I think the “heart” thing deals with his self-confidence. He is not at all sure he can do things when I ask. I had this issue with PJ as well, and he would not rebel but shut down too. The other manifestation of it was an emotional outburst whenever we learned a new exercise. I see this with Tucker too except that his reaction appears to be more rebellion rather than panic. This means I need to teach him things slowly and a little at a time.

I was also thinking that cavaletti work might help him better understand this concept of becoming more powerful in his stride. He could learn to feel more coordinated in his trot when his strides get longer because the poles would help him establish a rhythm and regularity.

He seems to understand the concept of going forward but just doesn’t believe he can do it. I am wondering if some jumping might also boost his confidence in his own body.

I know this all sounds pretty vague in some ways, but to me it actually explains a lot of what has been happening. I am concerned about how quickly he “turned off” at the idea of being forced to work by harsher means. He really did put up a wall of resentment about that, suggesting that if I go that route I might be jeopardizing our partnership.

Jeri will be back in touch again on Monday as she did not have time to talk to Toby and Chance for me. I will try to follow up on this idea of another rider to see if we can get him to accept it better. If not, I will work with him myself for a while longer to see if I can help him gain some confidence that he can do it.

I want to, for the time being, give him the benefit of the doubt and see if he offers more cooperation.

So. Strength building exercises. Slow teaching of new concepts. See if this “talk” improves the response to my leg. Jumping and maybe some more “playtime” kind of riding to make him feel more eager to go forward. Have to hold off on trail riding until the terrible deer/horse flies in my woods are gone for the season.

Anyone have any other ideas????


  1. Thank god you got that out of your eye and with school next week.. YIKES

  2. ooh jean, awful! that could have been so much worse! glad it's out and hopefully there's no long term damage...

    as to tucker - some free jumping? in hand work? you'll have thought of all this, but maybe if he gets the idea on the ground first?

  3. Interesting !

    I would agree that "roughness is not safe". But firmness is something else. Gigi was very firm and severe for the forward thing but he was reassuring her too " yes you can go forward and faster with a rider"

    Really a firm rider is very different that a rough rider. IMO a firm rider has more tact and is more subtle.
    A roug rider is just rough able to ride bucks and rears ....

    It is interesting report.

    I am not sure I am believer. But I know I can pick up vibes from people and horses, and Gigi feels horses too.
    So I am not against the idea at all ;-)

  4. I think that using a different rider might enable you to play "good cop/bad cop" with him, so that even if he reacts badly to a stronger rider, he should be grateful to have you back, and not let it spoil your relationship with him. I can see that he might be clever enough to try to stop you using another rider for him, too - is that possible?