Thursday, April 5, 2012

4-4-12 Progress Update

Things with Romeo amble along. We had a few light rides last week, all bareback. Earlier this week, we had a fantastic ride filled with many simple lead changes. I was delighted to get some in a row that were correct, and quiet. As he grew tired, the changes weren't always correct, and he started rushing the canter as a response. Realizing it'd been a long ride, I asked for one correct, and then we cooled down. He's doing well, minding well, and back in his shank bit, behaving like a true gentleman.

I stuffed antibiotic ointment in Harley's cracked heels for a few days. I sprayed them well with Vetericyn when I wasn't stuffing ointment in them. I longed him Sunday, things looked good, minus a little bucking temper tantrum. More on Tuesday, nice again, longer work, no bucking, no weird wildness.

Last night, I saddled him up, and headed to the arena. He tried to start bucking silly, kicking his entire rear end up and out in the air. I disciplined with some sharp halts. He relaxed. So I put the neck stretcher on the bit, and sent him back out on the line.
And that's when the fight started. Harley figured out how to twist his neck and bend his nose in just enough to stretch out of the neck stretcher. My solution to that will probably be side reins, as I'm not going to tolerate the complete disrespect sneaking out of work. I argued with him a while, as he even pulled the line straight out of my hands. It was "hold on, get rope burn hands, and be drug around the arena, or just let go. I chose let go. He calmed down again, so I affixed my helmet, and hopped on.

Walk, okay. Trot, choppy and hollow. Asked for canter, and within two strides, he bucked up and out in the rear again. Splat I went, as the buck caught me completely off guard, and dumped me right over his shoulder. Harley took off with a galloping speed, and when I caught him, I found the bit hanging out of his mouth, and the bridle broken. My show bridle, broken. My own punishment for #1 falling off, and #2 riding him in training in the show bridle.

I sent him back out on the line in the halter. Got a little "Clinton Anderson" on him - lots and lots and did I mention LOTS of direction changes. In case you missed it, he had LOTS of direction changes. I didn't ease up until he needed pushed to go forward, and even then, until a slight movement in my body caused him to stop completely and give me two ears and distance of respect, I still kept pushing. At this point, I'm not even real sure how long that went on. Five minutes? Ten, maybe?

Huffing and puffing, I put my helmet back on, tied the reins to the halter, and got back on. Walk, good. Trot, good. Canter, fine. Cantered one circle, then he started speeding up again, so I asked for trot. More trot, followed by a bit more canter. Back to walk. Things were good. Changed direction, with more of the same results. No bucking, no hissy fits, and the one time he tossed his head around a bit, I hollered "knock it off". His head popped straight up, and he got tense, but he quit fighting it. Harley argued with the halter knots pressure, and while I'd like to say I felt bad, I don't.

We're going back to work tonight as well, whether he likes it or not. After the ride, hosing him off, I checked the back feet. I stuffed my fingers in the gaps in his heels, and pushed, vigorously. No reaction. Therefore, no pain. Therefore, unless I find some wild good reason tonight, he's got no excuse for the new behavior. The only reasonable excuse I can see right now, is a desire to not work, and stand around in the pasture. He's perhaps learned dumping Mom is the best way to get a shorter work out and a break. Perhaps bucking up good and galloping around will earn him a longer vacation. While I'd like to think his breeding gives him a better attitude than that, currently, I'm not so sure.

I'll work tonight in the dressage saddle, eliminating any excuse at all for saddle fit problems. I'll also run some stiff knuckles down his topline and search for pain. I don't think there's a problem, though. Just a bad attitude.

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