The horse that won’t go.
Note: This occurred a while ago, but I left the timeline as is since it follows the other post.
It’s been 3 rides now, and I can honestly say I’ve never met a horse that I had so many issues about just GOING FORWARD.
Last night I rode (our 3rd ride), and although he was a tad bit better, we still had two rather big fights. Both were related to the very first trot of the session. After that, he seemed more amendable. I’ll get to that later.
The Box Exercise at the Walk:
The good stuff: i was able to do a semi-reasonable rendition of the box exercise at the walk when focusing on the shoulders only. He wiggles. He drifts. He thinks half-assed is good enough, but when more precision was requested he complied. I couldn’t get anything at all the ride before this because I had zero “Go” buttons at all. This time he at least kept walking and he allowed me to turn with my thigh and outside aids better.
The bad: There was very limited understanding of moving the hind end, and he has limited understanding of the outside rein. And he seemed resistant to crossing his hind legs.
In the saddle, when i ask for leg-yield on the wall, he takes short, kind of hopping strides if crossing the left over the right. For the box exercise, he took short steps to cross his hinds. When I’m on the ground and ask him to move his hind away and cross he does so with big, sweeping strides. Seems to be an ‘in the saddle’ issue. Still unsure if it’s pain or simply a balance/strength issue…
The good: i was able to get the walk from the halt with a light aid even next to the door where he got stuck and utterly froze the first two rides.
The bad: the strike off to the walk is still lackluster and without true energy. He sloths his way around, exerting the least amount of energy possible. He falls into the walk and ambles.
The good: after the initial issue of picking up a trot for the first time, his walk/trot transitions became better. He became more workman like in his attitude, less belligerent. A couple of the walk to trot transitions were actually decent and had some energy. Like Training Level decent…
I have no delusions that “workman like” attitude will roll over to the next ride.
The bad: my first ask for a walk to trot transition, he planted, raised his head, and humped his back with a definite “No”. I pulled him off balance to the side and got his feet moving at the walk again, I asked for trot again lightly, nothing. I asked harder and SAME FRIGGIN’ response! Utter No.
Finally I turned him sharply, booted him hard with both heels, and popped him lightly with the whip (I was really expecting a big buck). He lurched into a sort of jog trot, so i petted him up and told him he was good and let him walk again. Asked for the trot again lightly, and after that it was fine.
I’m still not a hundred percent sure this is truly a behavioral issue and not a pain response. OR, he had pain that’s now gone, but is still expecting pain… His reactions seem over the top to me. He apparently has had several medical issues in the past that would’ve caused him pain, but he’s got a really good owner who has gone to great lengths to ensure he’s healthy and pain free now. So why is he still acting like he’s going to die if he moves?
The good: he let me move him with just a weight aid both ways after the first one. No calf or leg needed at all (he’s incredibly sensitive to seat).
The bad: he’s drifting his hind behind him. Bare minimum of crossing behind. He becomes resistant when attempting to half-halt the outside rein in order to realign his front and back. Assuming it’s not pain/injury related, then I think the hind end drift will decrease once he understands the hind-end box exercise and outside rein. And i also think the wall leg-yield will help him limber up more and increase his understanding of outside rein and inside hind. He wasn’t “bad”, he’s just not correct. Maybe his other rider has tricks that work better for him. I was operating on path of least resistance, or… however I can trick him into working correctly without hitting his “I won’t” wall.
The good: His second and later responses to a light canter aid were prompt.
The bad: I could not get the canter the first time. He wouldn’t even give a wrong response. I got no, zero, nada, nothing response. He just trotted along like nothing else was being asked. I assumed it was me. Could be my balance was off, or he felt unbalanced and refused. I changed direction, tried to get him as balanced as I could and I asked again. He picked it up no issues. All other trot/canter transitions were great.
All downward transitions were horrendous. I don’t know what his downward transition buttons are. I can’t really half-halt him to set him up, and he doesn’t push into the bridle as a forward thinking transition, so every downward trans looked like a camel. Unbalanced and ugly. I’ll have to ask his riders next time I see them how they cue for downwards.
My Very Amateur Impressions:
He’s very stiff through his ribs and back.
His right side appears to be less able to stretch when going left, I think. Probably because his left hind is weaker than his right. He seems right dominant. Stronger on that side. Tighter muscles.
He slipped on the footing twice at the end of the last ride. This is super footing, so it’s not a footing issue. Both times the left hind seemed to just spin out from under him. I’m suspicious something else is going on with him…. Perhaps it’s simply weaker and he was overly tired?
And, either I really suck, or his training level is more on par with Training Level than what I had assumed. I never know though.. I know I’m not the best rider. I’m passable, decent, but compared to some I’m like a toad sitting on a log. I’m really dying to see his other rider and owner ride him sometime. I would love to know if it’s my riding that’s the issue, or it’s the same for everyone.
I bribed him with a couple of treats this ride. When he put in a bit of effort I gave him a small treat. I was trying to use walk as a reward, but wondered if I could reach him faster by using both a walk break and a small treat. I know some frown on this, but I’ve always used bribes for Ava and Joy while riding. Didn’t hurt Ava’s test scores any. This horse just seems so… resigned. Not that I really blame him. Who wants to work out? Not me. If I were a horse, I’d be that jerk pony that won’t go above a walk while little kids kicked furiously at my sides. HAhaha