The footing was questionable and since it was pretty cold out, I'd had an unannounced meeting after school, and it was Friday, I decided to give the Boys the night off.
It never really did thaw today so the ring surface has the loose sand on top of a more frozen base and, from my short inspection, there were plenty of hard spots. Yesterday provided success with everyone, despite the contrary opinions, so I guess it's OK.
Besides, tomorrow is Saturday and the temps are supposed to go slightly above freezing with plenty of sunshine. That bodes well for some decent footing. And I think I owe Tucker a hack.
I plan on using the barrels and poles along with at least one metal corral panel to block off a little "round" pen to long line Chance in tomorrow I have panels to block off and end of the ring but I am using them to make the little pen Tucker lives in next to his stall. I really wouldn't want to haul them out to the ring and set up anything that needed to stay since I only need the pen for Chance to keep him from running out so much on that longlining circle. He probably would also benefit from some round penning work, but I wouldn't dare do that with just the barrels and poles as a barrier, but I do think on the lines he will respect them.
The longlining is really beneficial to his training as it makes him yield to the bit and learn the discipline of steering without having to deal so much with balancing a rider on his back. As I've said before, that was how I started both Toby and Tucker and it made a world of difference in their responses to the aids when they were first ridden. While Chance is already accepting of a rider, the lining still works as a super training tool, and it really does teach a horse to accept the bit.
I am finding Tucker's progress intriguing. When he was first ridden under saddle, stopping and balking was one of his evasions, and if I pushed him too far by kicking, etc. he would "rocket launch" into a huge buck. Over time, he got over that, except at the horse shows when, eventually, he became too dangerous for me to ride in the warm up as bucking became his reaction to my leg. Chris, my trainer then, rode him for a while in the shows and got some really nice work out of him once he broke through the resistance and then, I was able to show him again myself.
We really didn't have any major issues until he started the balking again that Patrice attributed to the ulcers. Ulcer medication seemed to stop that until whatever it was that happened when he took the bad step in the November lesson and then all the balking began in earnest again.
So far, he has not offered to buck again, but it is always in the back of my mind, so I have a certain reluctance to really go after him for stopping. Gabriel, my new trainer, wants me to clear my mind of all the past bad stuff and ride the horse I have today--the one who seems to be ready to accept the whip, at least. That is easier said than done.
So far, the approach I have taken over the last few rides seems to be working. I really think that becuase of his emotional and perhaps ulcer baggage, Tucker never really did learn some of the basics about "forward at all times." Right now, I feel if I demand gently and insistently and then praise him mightily for a correct repsonse, he will gain the confidence to trust me.
As Caroline seems to be discovering with Jazz, that trust is so very important with a sensitive and complex horse. It is where the true partnership begins.