Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Spooking Chronicles, Part What?

The stinker took advantage of me when I probably should not have been taking a lesson on Monday and did another big spook. Again, I did stay on, but because I wasn't feeling well, it took me a bit more to get it under control. I also came out of contact with the seat because I got pulled forward and, apparently, I hit him with the whip.

I've been repeating the word Whoa! a lot. Gayle said I totally forgot it and I finally yelled it at him. He did stop when he heard it from me.

Clearly, this is the new evasion to avoid real work. It was a successful strategy in the past (Rod Bergen is so wrong about horses being unable to strategize), but I'm not going to be put off by it again. Eventually, he'll have to try something else. I'm much less bothered when he decides that a collected back up will work.

Gayle did say that I had a great collected canter underneath me when he took off. All I can say is, he feels like a whole lot bigger horse when his back is up under me. There's a lot of power when that engine is engaged.

Gayle asked me if Ashley could ride Ace in a dressage clinic at the end of the month (actually, it's June 1, I think) and, of course, I said yes. I'll go and watch. They'll be sharing the spot with the warmblood and rider they often take lessons with. The mare is about a hand and a half taller than Ace and proportionally bigger. So it is quite entertaining to watch them keep up or or slow down to stay with each other.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I don't care what anybody says either, horses spook to get out of doing what they don't want to do. When we used to have lessons, things would go along fine, until he either got bored or tired or whatever. All of a sudden a spot of light on the ground, a cat, a flower box, you name it, whatever was in his line of sight became a monster. Once he even spooked at an open trunk lid on a car. It was all very dramatic. Hang in there though, as soon as he figures out he's not getting you off or getting away with these antics he may stop all together. The Dressage clinic sounds like a fun idea.

billie said...

I call this selective spooking. :)

Keil Bay will do it now and then, but he tends to "spook in place" or get right to the point of spooking but then let it go.

He's truly spooked twice since I got him, once at the trot and once at the canter - big movement but thankfully very athletic and elegant, so easy to sit.

The funny thing to me is the same things that elicit big eyes and snorts under saddle mean NOTHING when he is grazing muzzle to monster.

I often think of it as him testing my acumen and confidence in the saddle. It's certainly true that as I've regained my balance and my seat (not to mention my confidence), he's much less inclined to snort and go into hyper-alert mode. If I can get one ear flicking back to me I've won the battle, so that tends to be my approach with him.

My first trainer taught me to circle back immediately to the "monster" and continue to ride through until it is completely ignored. In effect, this meant extra work, so he cut it out pretty quickly.

It also helps to focus on my own breathing. I tend to hold my breath when tricky moments happen.