The Doghouse – Holding a Grudge

Two out of our last three rides were good. That’s not too bad except that the bad outweighed the good by about 10 to 1.doghouse

Thursday (rode for 1 hour): Our lesson ended up getting postponed. Which also meant that my no stirrup schedule has already been thrown out the window. But oh well we’ll make it work.

I took Tucker up to the top ring and put him on a circle. I decided to do some circle work for two reasons 1. circles are good, it’s easier for me to figure out if he’s bulging anywhere and work on our communication and 2. my friend was grazing the horse she rode at the one end, social time while working equals fun.

So we stayed on the circle the whole ride. And he was so good! He’s still giving me the forward rhythm at all three gaits. His trot is still feeling ‘floaty’ and he’s softening and rounding into the contact nicely.IMG_0709

I did two 5 minute spans of no stirrup work. I had fully intended to just trot but decided to throw in some canter during the second 5 minutes. I felt the burn but it wasn’t overly difficult. I started to feel like 15 minutes was a bit of a low ball goal.

Saturday (rode for 1.25 hours): Luckily the weather held off just long enough for our make-up lesson. I dropped irons for 5 minutes during our warm up. My nerves were bad. My legs felt like spaghetti.

We started by jumping back and forth over a cross rail (which eventually got raised to a small vertical without fill) that was set on the quarter line. It was just me in the lesson so there was no rush to move on. We basically jumped the same jump for the whole lesson. It was great! I was able to pick away at the little things I’m doing or not doing.

We trotted in, we cantered in, we did the cloverleaf pattern, and we nailed 99% of the distances. Turns out I’ve been jumping wrong (I think). G told me to watch the top rail. THE TOP RAIL! Not the ground. I’m pretty sure that I’ve been dropping my eye to the ground and/or focusing on the fill.

We finished by doing a small course of three jumps. Quarter line vertical on a left rein, right turn to the rail and circle to diagonal vertical (with boxes and fill), to other diagonal vertical (with boxes and fill). We missed both lead changes going to the right. But we nailed the distances. I really had to force my eye to stay on the top rail at both diagonals. But it worked, we got good distance and didn’t tap any rails.

Sunday (rode 1.5 hours): This is where everything went to hell in a handbasket. The weather was miserable. I decided to ride in the indoor. No big deal. Except that in the past week the neighbours have decided that they HATE their house and are dismantling it. By hand! They’re making a lot of noise doing it too. Not to mention that the whole act of pulling a house down by hand is not the most normal thing for a horse to see. Oh and there was a saddle club show going on.IMG_6193

Basically I was riding a giraffe made out of noodles. Every time we’d go down the far end his head would fly up and he’d contort his body in order to eye the house out the open door for as long as possible.

It didn’t matter what I did. I could not focus his attention. I eventually gave up on riding inside and went out to ride in the drizzle and puddles. I had hoped that the lack of walls would help him to relax.

I was wrong. So I chose the driest corner of the ring, away from the evil house and put him on a 20 meter circle. Eventually he began to focus on the circle and soften. I started to believe that he had his brain back. I decided to drop my stirrups for 10 minutes. Update on my thought process: 10 minutes was quite a struggle I no longer think I was low balling the 15 minute goal.

In hind sight I should have stopped there. He had been grinding his teeth while on the circle. Usually that happens when I ask him to do new things especially lateral movements. I think it equates to human nail biting.

But he wasn’t normal Tucker and he still felt like he had way too much energy left. We went back on the circle to the right and spiraled in with a left bend and then followed the bend left into an extended trot. Came back around and picked up the circle to the left. Spiraled in with a right bend and followed the bend to the right. Only instead of going right I found myself turned in the opposite direction with both legs almost on one side of the saddle. Yep almost broke the no-fall-off streak.IMG_0319

Up until this point I think I had been doing a good job of suppressing my frustration and focusing on work. But clearly that hadn’t worked. So I focused my frustration into driving him forward around the whole ring. Scary end and all. Enough is enough. Only I had things to do yesterday. I didn’t have time to have this battle with him. I pushed my ride as long as I could and never got normal Tucker not even marginally normal Tucker. I finished on him stretching out at the trot coming away from the scary. It wasn’t nearly good enough but I had to be satisfied with minute victories.

And then I yelled at a couple boys because they were throwing mud at each other and running behind my horse which spooked him. Stupid kids! I’ve got the rage!

How do you deal with your horse when he/she is being dumb? How do you let go of a bad ride?

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15 Responses to The Doghouse – Holding a Grudge

  1. Lauren says:

    I usually have to stop before I get frustrated, because it only makes things worse. Simon is allowed a bad day every now and then, and I try not to let it get me too upset.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. emma says:

    ugh so frustrating. i really have a hard time letting go too… but am trying to get better about knowing when to walk away. things are usually better next time anyway

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Liz Stronach says:

    I totally relate to this. Wish I had words of wisdom to impart – I just try to tell myself that on those terrible days, I should quit once I get marginal improvement – I shouldn’t expect to get my ‘perfect’ horse back. Sometimes I just stop and let him stand still for a few minutes, ostensibly for him to slow down his brain, but really so I can calm down and get my frustration in check. Next time is sure to be better!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      He caught me of guard with CRAZY Tucker. I assumed we’d be able to work through it or at the very least burn off some of his VERY not normal energy. I guess I’m prepared now if it ever happens again.


      • Liz Stronach says:

        Definitely weird! A trainer told me once that when you start asking your horse for more power and responsiveness to your aids, it might have the unintended effect of instilling crazy brain as well. Maybe Tucker’s beautiful floaty trot is making him feel too big for his britches 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Erin says:

        Haha! My brain did go there for a millisecond. BUT it came back to the fact that it’s Tucker. In the end he’s much happier plodding along and stuffing his face full of food than expending energy. My hope that his behaviour was caused by a weird combination of things that will not be repeated.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jackie V says:

    It is so so SO hard for me to just drop it and give up the fight. Like, I forget that horses are not humans and cannot be reasoned with in the same way. Unfortunately, that’s the thought process I use. I just have to remember, in the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, “tomorrow is another day.” ugh easier said than done though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      I worry that by giving up the fight to early I’ll teach him that he can get away with not working by acting like a fool. You are right though. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully that damn house will be down! lol.


  5. When my mare doesn’t work out of her silly I do just what you did, try to work it out of her, and then just get mad and say- we’re doing this, we’re going here, we’re going there. And sometimes she gets a smack (really like a tap with my crop).
    And when I get off I just remember that horses are horses and not machines- they’re going to have good days and bad days. I always come to the next ride assuming that we’re going to have a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tracy - Fly On Over says:

    I struggle so much with this! how hard do you push? When do you settle for less?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erin says:

      In an ideal world we’d have all the time in the world to calmly work out issues. There’s definitely a learning curve. I’m not sure that there is or will ever be one right answer.


  7. Pingback: The Story So Far ~ One Year of Blogging! | The Story So Far

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