Friday, May 24, 2013

And Then This Happens . . .

So, last night I went to the barn after rescuing T from his final day of school. (I have never been so relieved in my life!!) Ashke is still just a touch sensitive, but not by much. I had Cinnamon check his legs for me and she didn't find anything wrong, so we are going with sore tooties. I decided we were going to ride, so I groomed and saddled up.

We went to the big arena and worked on opening and closing the gate, which would be so much easier if the gate wasn't as heavy as the car. Swear. At least 1000 pounds to swing open and closed. Anyway, Ashke did pretty good with it, all things considering. Then we rode around the arena and I let him travel at the speed he wanted to go. We did some trotting and a couple of short canters. Both with wild, veering sideways leaps at the most innocuous things that he had managed to walk past without blinking an eye, but found suddenly much scarier when we are traveling faster. It was fun.

After about fifteen minutes of that, we revisited the gate and went outside the arena. I walked him over a four inch ditch (which is really rather difficult for him - I swear he thinks it's the freaking Grand Canyon), over a mock wooden bridge, past a mailbox and around a set of tires. About then I saw N pull into the subdivision, waved and rode over (which was all done at  a fairly energetic trot). We chatted a bit and then she needed to go home and I saw L and her daughter M riding out on Taffy and Smarty. I said goodbye to N and asked Ashke to ride over to the other horses. He burst into a gallop. It took me a good couple of seconds to get him back under control and slowed down before we got to them. It was very exciting. They were just doing a bit of a ride out of the arena around the property. We rode together around the end of the dressage ring and started up the far side when Taffy suddenly began her version of a rodeo horse. L got her stopped and got off. L was very upset and said something about how this is the reason she wants to sell Taffy.

Taffy is a nice looking palamino QH, with the typical QH build. She has had one foal and is pretty out of shape. L says she does great in the arena but has thrown her both times she has tried to take her out. I really think L was planning on dumping her in her stall and leaving her alone. I said to L, "You need to take her to the round pen and work her ass off." L looked pretty startled. Ashke and went with her to the upper round pen and I walked L through the process.

L turned Taffy loose in the round pen and told her to canter. Taffy did, but there was no work involved. She was in this sweet little lope she could have done for hours. I told L to make her work, to drive her forward out of that comfort zone. I asked M to bring her mom my carriage whip, because there is nothing more frustrating than chasing around your horse with a set of reins while the horse freaking laughs at you. Things changed when L took the whip and she was able to really start working the horse. She drove her at a canter in both directions, while I walked her through the process. Once Taffy was pretty puffy, I told L to let her stand as long as she was focused on L. Once she started looking around, L made her move forward. By the end of twenty minutes or so, Taffy was paying pretty good attention to L, moving to follow her commands briskly, and linking up when L wasn't asking her to move. Taffy had worked up a pretty good sweat and although I still think there was some residual issues with the mare, she was much more responsive to L afterwards.

L got back on her and rode her around the round pen and Taffy was very good. I opened the gate, swung back on Ashke and we rode out and around the upper paddocks together. Taffy didn't even blink an eye. She was very good. L said if I hadn't talked her through working her in the round pen, she just would have thrown her back in her stall and gone home mad. I told her we wanted Taffy to understand behavior like that was going to make things more difficult and that a nice, easy ride around the property was so much easier than running in circles at L's beck and call.

It ended up being good for L, at least. I think it gave her a little bit more confidence in handling Taffy. I told her she needed to decide which horse was going to be her horse (Taffy or Jonesy - who she wants to buy as soon as she has sold Taffy) and stop playing in the middle. If Taffy is it, then she needs to do some ground work, lunging, taking her out and actually riding her, instead of paying someone to do the work for her. If she wants a made horse, then she needs to sell Taffy and buy Jonesy. Unfortunately for both of them, she loves Taffy and feels sorry for her. She was pretty badly abused when L bought her. She just doesn't like her very much.

This opens a whole nother can of worms about people being sold horses they can't handle because they fall in love with how they look. Or because the horse is offered as something it's not. A topic for another post on another day.

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