Well, it was that time of year again...The time of year where I saddle up and travel to Concepcion, TX for the Fiesta Del Rancho and its accompanying trail ride. But as in the past, there is always important prep work to complete.
I had to lay off the horses for a few weeks due to a busy work schedule. That left Joey un-ridden for 3 weeks. I had started back to ground work, but there's just no substitute for saddle time.
I had a group of riders over, about 14 total, on a Sunday, a week before the Concepcion Trail Ride. I jumped on Joey cold back. We walked around some of the arriving horses and riders, and then suddenly, after being on him about 10 minutes and while doing nothing more than walking, he went into a bucking fit. He threw about 10 bucks in a row. I rode him through it, and then worked yielding his hindquarters and getting his focus back on me. I had kind of anticipated this was coming, because he was unfocused from the second I pulled him from his stall. I attribute it to nervous energy. And while we survived the trail ride that day, it was clear we were not in sync.
I used the rest of the week to ride him. For the first few rides after the bucking fit, he would throw some bucks in the round pen or while longeing. Gradually, by the 3rd or 4th ride of the week, all the buck seemed to have left him, and he was buck free.
I had a thought that I had been leaning on the bit while asking him to canter, out of my own fear that he would buck. I took to riding him in a bosal to break me of the habit, and I tried to "grow a pair" and just accept what happened. I also committed to a quirt, since he tends to be a little lazy. Well, the results were great. Without me in his mouth, and with a little encouragement from the quirt, we had some good buck free rides and some good sustained canters in the round pen. Truth is, he rode as well or better with the bosal as with the bit.
Now I was ready for the Concepcion Trail Ride. This is a ride with plenty of challenges. There is the haul over there, and yes, I did have a trailer tire blowout on the way down that resulted in a 25 minute tire change. Not my best time, but the tire wrapped around the axle and I had to work it free. It also means an overnight stay in a new environment for the horses. And it's a trail ride with about a hundred other horses. Throw in some VERY loud music being blasted from following cars and wagons in the procession and you get the set up. It is a problem rich environment. And I'm doing this on a 4 year old horse that earlier in the week, decided to try out for the rodeo as a bucking bronc.....