Something Is Bothering Him
Tucker was just fine for many months accepting some very strong driving, collecting, correcting, and half-halting without protests. This stopping he's started definitely has a reason other than just willful disobedience, I am sure of it.
In the past, when he was stopping, he always did well on the lines, and my previous trainer could ride him through most of it. (although in one show he did have to withdraw...and Chris was not at all intimidated.) The behavior Tuck is showing now is very close to what it was then when he had not been treated for the ulcers, OR when he had a sore stifle.
This morning I rode him. On the long rein he was forward and willing to trot with no protest. As I worked on, I gradually began to bring him into a frame, challenging him more and more. We had one minor stop after I had to halt to untwist my stirrup strap. We had one protest on a canter depart to the right, with a kick out, a nap, a correction and then an, "OK, OK, I'll do it." But as we worked on, the canter improved, as if either his muscles had loosened or he decided it really didn't bother him that much.
A note of interest is that during the canter "nap," when he stopped, he snaked his head around to bite at my right leg/heel against his side. When Patrice suspected the ulcer, sensitivity on the right side was one of the main clues. But, the right stifle is the one that gets sore. On the other hand, usually taking the left lead challenges a right stifle issue because the right hind has to "twist" a little to the inside to take the opposite lead. Tucker gave me more a problem taking the right lead.
I think I can feel a very, very slight irregularity in his gait. It is not a lameness, nor would I even call it an unevenness. It is just a feeling that he is not quite carrying his weight the same on all four legs. And I do think it is the hind end.
At the end of the bulk of the work, I walked, alternating between walk on a long rein and walk in a frame. Once he got steady at that, I added halt, reinback--he was not too willing to back either, so that hints of soreness somewhere--trot, walk, long reing...etc. Whereas that kind of exercise often encourages him to stop/nap, I was quite pleased to end the ride that way.
Tucker can bully me and he knows it. But, when I knew he was feeling fine, any protests on his part were different--more frisky than defiant. I am no longer a rider who can battle it out with a horse, so I need to handle this with tact instead. So far, so good. The long lining will definitely help but if I am still concerned that something else might be going on, I will have my vet look at him.
I rode Chance next. He is now pretty easy to get down and round at the trot, although he is still heavier on the right rein. Again, I may feel, now and then, a little irregularity in his gaits but I hope steadier work will muscle him up and fix that. Mind you, he has been galloping all over the place, encouraging Tucker, and today, Toby, to rolick along with him. Somehow, he and his buddies have split several fence posts and knocked down more fence rails-- I have slip board fences--and he and Tuck do spend a fair amount of time on two legs "boxing" with each other. So it would be no wonder if either or both of them are sore in the hind end.
Regardless, Chance has a good concept of walk, trot and canter and when he learns to drop his head to the bit in canter, he will be well on his way to being a darn good ride.
With a carrot bribe, I caught Toby and lunged him a little. I hadn't taken the whip out so he was just dragging his feet. I plucked a long weedy thing from the edge of the arena to use a whip. His eyes bugged out and off he went to finish up the session with some good trot and canter.
I was out there this morning between 7:30 and about 9 AM or so after having watched a portion of the women's riding in the pentathlon. While I did not see all the rides, the oned I did see were head and shoulders above even the best of the men. Not only did the women have superior seats, but their riding skills in general were quite good. They were bolder to the fences and far kinder to the horses. One women did have the horse fall, but I didn't see her do anything to cause it. It was a nasty spill too and I thought when the horse got up that he was off. But she remounted and carried on with him jumping just fine. I do question the ground jury, though for not stopping the round to give the horse a once over.
There was, apparently, some negative feedback after yesterday's disasterous rounds by the men. The bad riding was blamed on the wet footing from the rains, but as a horsemand who has ridden hundreds of jumper rounds myself, it was not the footing. It was the riding. Only the most sainted horses would work for those heavy handed, incompetent riders. I think today's work by the women--on the same mounts--proved that. I did, in the scores, see some bad rounds, and I'd wager if I paired the horses that produced them with some of the poor beasts tortured yesterday, the ones most abused by the men would probably be the bad rides today.
If they post the videos on the Internet, I will look at a few of those high penalty rides from this morning just to see what went on.
By the by I also noticed that the women were far more inclined to pat the horses after the rides and one rider was even fussing with the horse's mane as she entered trying to make it fall to the same side as she stroked her mount. It was honestly refreshing to see those poor horses actually appreciated by their riders for their contribution to the Olympics.
The US rider was in first place in the riding too, but she was so far behind in the shooting and fencing that she had no chance at a medal. I'd give her the gold for the ride. She did a nice job.
Addendum: Watched some more of the rides. Apparently they had decided to lower the jumps after yesterday. The men were jumping 4'. Personally, I think that is too high for people who are not real jumper riders. The fences for the women looked to be 3'6" or so. I don't think much lower. That is still pretty challenging for novices. The men had a pool of 18 horses to draw from. 6 horses were withdrawn overnight. Wonder how many of them had been lamed. All the women I saw were better than the men. The concept of a release over the fence was there for everyone unless someone got left behind. There were a good number of knockdowns, some due to a rider coming badly to the fence and some due to horses just not making enough jump...tired? Not that talented? Sore?
Apparently, the host nation is responsible to supply the horses and train them. Although some people on the Internet have been suggesting the horses looked "just off the track," it looked to me as if they all had some good solid jump training. 'Nough said about this. Still respected every woman who rode and patted her horse afterward, no matter what the score.