Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Rough Ride on Joey

This post will be staccato style, forget the grammar...

Hustled to get a ride in on Joey tonight. Headed to my friend's place to ride in her good arena.

No problems trailer loading. Joey was very distracted though. Looking at other horses, ears everywhere but on me. Walk and trot no problem, but he was not "connected". I dismounted and longed for respect, but I could tell I still didn't have him all the way.

He was cantering well, but on his favorite lead, the left. I wanted to get his head in a good place, and so we cantered a bunch going left, but rather non-aggressively. Then I tried the right. He was reluctant to take the right lead again. I worked on half passes and side passes at the walk and trot. I wanted him really yielding, because then it's easier to start him in the correct lead. I watched a Craig Cameron episode on this very topic on Monday, and he really promoted this. He also reminded me that we should always tell our horse which lead we want when going into the canter. In other words, don't just canter off without a plan for which lead to be in.

I finally got him in a right lead, and we cantered. I goosed him a little bit to keep him from slowing to the trot, and he bucked. It was no small buck. If he had followed the first with a second and third, I'd have been off his back, because I was out of position after the first buck. I slowed him down with a one rein stop and IMMEDIATELY yielded his hindquarters in both directions, HARD and FAST. Then I cantered him off again. A few more laps, and he pulled another one, but this time I was ready and had a decent grasp of my night latch. It seems my leg asking him to keep up speed was the trigger, and going to the right was harder for him to do than the left.

OK all the bleeding hearts out there. I can hear it already. "Maybe he's hurt and you need to stop riding him so hard". Baloney. Look, I asked my vet how I should handle possible lameness issues. He said that mild degrees of lameness are hard to diagnose. He suggested I keep riding until the limb, part of limb, whatever is hurting, becomes more obvious and persists, and THEN bring him in.

I know Joey has an issue with taking the right lead. I also know I've been working on strengthening it. Today, thus far in this ride, he's been distracted and disconnected. I did NOT round pen him prior to riding, and I am definitely making him work. Unless he shows me some obvious lameness, I'm riding him through this.

I kept cantering him to left and right, with a good grasp of the night latch. I let my leg move him around while cantering, and while I could tell he didn't like it, I didn't care. He needs to be turning and yielding to my leg if I have any hope of good steering while at the canter. You have to control the hind end and the ribcage to have any hope of good circles. Without it, the horse will just push through your head direction and you'll be cantering without control. I did NOT have spurs on, and I was barely touching him, He was being over reactive and needed desensitization.

He quit bucking. I then made him yield front and rear, and when he was slow about it, I used my rein end to pop him where I was already applying pressure with my leg anyway. I got a VERY good response after that. He softened, and I could tell I had his full attention after that.

Look, I don't want a rodeo anymore than anyone else. But I'm not going to reward this behavior that I feel represents willful disobedience. He did much better after an attitude adjustment. Joey is a young horse. I feel he was looking around at the other horses for a herd and leadership. I didn't come down on him hard initially, but eventually, that's what it took. I knew the risks when I took on a youngster.

Like the Aaron Ralston show sings at the beginning of every show..Did you come to ride or did you come to hide?

I came to ride. I can't wait for the next ride, because I'm thinking what this horse needs now is some good hard riding for some extended canter sessions. And I plan on delivering.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like he was a bit distracted and just acting out and you handled it. I agree that it's important not to avoid the hard bits, or back off when stuff happens - I don't always manage to live up to that but it's what I try to do.

Trailrider said...


I knew it was coming. In contrast to Sunday, when I cantered him and he felt connected, this ride he was very unfocused. I tried to head it off with the longeing, but I could tell I didn't make enough of an impact.

I will admit to being scared. But I was also determined. I need to either fish or cut bait with this horse. He's had enough time off, and I've invested a lot of time and money in him. I think that's what drove me yesterday.

And all that matters is that we try and keep trying, in my opinion.

Gotta say, I'm liking this night latch, and I consider it essential equipment for a young horse, or any horse that feels a little skittish.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently riding my young horse Pie in an English dressage saddle - it's got a fairly deep seat but not the security of a Western saddle, particularly one with your night latch - I'd love to have that. I've been delaying getting him a saddle for the trail - I'm hoping to get him a lightweight About the Horse saddle, with luck second hand - until he finished growing and filling out. He turned 5 in the spring and I think he's finally done growing - unfortunately I think he ended up about 16 hands - I was hoping he'd stop sooner. Got to get the measurements taken and get that saddle. Without a horn or night latch, I just grab a handful of mane - provided I have the presence of mind to do it before I need it!

Unknown said...

Smokey's bad lead is the right. He has thrown some minor bucks on me on that lead, and I have ridden them out to get him in the right attitude. We have fewer days of issues, it's been a gradual change. If I could ride every day it would go faster, I'm sure.

Smokey also has no excuse, so i respond with that in mind. No lameness. No soreness (which at least Joey may have from his surgery. Was the bigger cut on that side you are cueing? Not an excuse, but something that better explains the "sidedness"). Even if sorenss is an issue, he still needs to learn a buck is not an approved response. Ever.