The Sun Still Sets Too Early
I decided to take Chance and Toby, at least, out for hacks in the woods. The arena footing was a mixed batch of nicely thawed places and some spots still pretty solid, but I figured I'd still be able to do a short school with Tucker.
The first two parts of the plan worked really well. Chance and I had a nice little walk through the short trail in the woods and he was very happy to be out and about. Then I saddled up Toby and he was MORE than happy to trot off towards the out gate to take his hack. I rode him a bit longer, going all the way back to look at the once more flooded trees--figured as much since the so-callled infiltration pond is full of water again--and came back the long way.
By then, it was getting pretty close to sunset, and growing colder. So, I picked the manure out of the arena and brought Tucker in. My mind set was to insist he be supple and flexing to the bit right from the start. Inspired by a quick perusal of an article by Steffen Peters in the new issue of Dressage Today, I figured if the footing was bad we could at least do some good walk work with transitions and suppling.
Tucker figured differently. His perspective was that if he was round and on the bit he simply could not walk forward. He could stand and not respond to my leg. He could paw with his front foot. He could take perhaps a step backwards. But he simply could not go forward as long as he was in a true dressage frame.
So we stood. I tapped with the whip and my leg, and I waited. When he finally decided perhaps moving forward was an option, I praise him mightily, but I did not give him a loose rein. So, he stopped again. And again. And again. And again. Then, he finally decided he could walk so we did some circles and bending and then, I asked for the trot.
So he didn't trot. He laid his ears back and bounced a little. Then he stopped. Then he walked. Then I asked for the trot and he laid his ears back....I guess by know you have the picture.
This all went on for perhaps 10-15 minutes which seems an eternity when you really just want to lay back and give the horse a good whack which would have probably had no real positive results anyhow.
Then, rather abruptly, Tuck trotted off, on the bit in a nice round dressage frame and that was that. I didn't want to push my advantage too much so I tried a downward transition to a walk and back to the trot--no problem. So I set a goal of five transitions on each rein.
Right rein, 1-5 perfectly. Left rein 1-5 perfectly. I picked a soft spot and cued the right lead canter. Got it without too much protest. Back to the trot, down the center line and a nice square halt, held and on the bit for a count of about 5 seconds, and that was that.
I can't figure out the balking. It is really a habit now, but I seriously doubt he is in pain anywhere. This is a battle I am going to have to win, and I think tonight's approach was pretty successful. I avoided a real battle and managed to get him to do everything I wanted.
Caroline has her puzzles with Jazz, and I have mine with Tucker. Let us hope the both of us are smarter than our horses!! *G*