Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Hard to be Brave, when You're Only a Very Large Brown Horse

As you may or may not know, Tucker is 3/4 Dutch Warmblood and 1/4 Thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds, in my experience, tend to be fairly intelligent and level-headed. Warmbloods are also quite sensible and workmanlike, until they are not, and then they are just ridiculous. Accordingly, the 1/4 Thoroughbred is generally in charge of Tucker's brain function, while the Warmblood is in charge of things like his floaty extended trot, his big round jump, and engagement of the hind end (brains vs. brawn, if you will). Occasionally, however, the division of labor gets a bit mixed up. Which means that Tucker has, on occasion, in certain circumstances, appeared somewhat ridiculous. Not that I would ever make fun of him for it.

Anyways, on Saturday we had a really, truly, excellent ride.  We worked through the elements of First-1 again and now that I know where I'm going I was able to concentrate on riding a little better. We figured somethings out, like allowing the 15-meter circle to naturally bring him back from extended to working canter, rather than trying to slow him down and then turn.  We corrected the shape of our reverse turns.  We worked on making the stretchy circle less of an oval.  It all went wonderfully and I was super proud of him.

So we were cooling out and I was reflecting on what a truly brilliant animal I own and how incredibly blessed I am that I get to ride him every day, and then it happened.


There was a beam of light that appeared in the corner, stretching across the pile of extra footing.  I tried to explain to Tucker that it was just sunshine streaming in from the top window but he would not be dissuaded.  

Excuse the typo.  The internet is not perfect.
He tried to spin right, but thankfully he lacks the speed of a World Champion Reiner despite his beliefs to the contrary, and I was able to stop him and get him facing forward again.  He froze, took a few steps forward, and froze again. I patted him and told him there was nothing to be scared of, but apparently the closer vantage point only confirmed his worst suspicions.  


At this point we started running backwards, and I remembered something I saw Guy McLean do, so I turned him a little and got his feet moving forward.  We walked even closer this time and I rubbed his neck and told him he was a good boy, and then I sat very still and took deep breaths when he stopped to stare some more.  He was completely rigid underneath me, transfixed by the glowing pile of dirt.


At this point something kind of incredible happened.  I'm not even being sarcastic (for once), I was so, so proud of him for this.  He voluntarily, without any coaxing with my leg or other cue from me, walked toward the terrifying beam of light from outerspace, snorting, but with his head stretched down, and then gave the footing a good sniff.  On his own accord he decided that it actually wasn't scary at all and in fact he had been mistaken about the whole extraterrestrial thing.  Just to be sure, I walked him all the way to the other end of the ring, back to the spot where we first noticed the danger, and he walked all the way toward the corner with his ears up but without any hesitation.  I don't know if I've ever been prouder of him.
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear— not absence of fear. Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it."  — Mark Twain
I hopped off and gave him big scratches and pats all over like he had just won Dressage at Devon. He was quite pleased with himself.

15 comments:

  1. Those sun beams are the worst!! Courage spooks at almost nothing, but he always has to have one good look at a sunbeam EVERY TIME IT CHANGES PLACE OR SHAPE.

    Soooooo sort sucks if you're actually trying to like, ride.

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  2. I love you...who thinks Thoroughbreds are the sensible ones???? Your the best!

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  3. He needs to share this information with Ries.

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  4. I, too, chuckled at TB's being level-headed and sensible. I've known about 50% sane TBs and 50% crazy ones, so I realize that I'm biased. But then I laughed harder at "Warmbloods are sensible, until they are not." Thanks for the great read!

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    1. I've met crazy TB's too, but on the whole I find them to have better brains than WBs... I guess maybe I should clarify that I find TBs to be less prone to spook, although perhaps more prone to misbehave because they disagree with you.

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    2. My dressage instructor had a TB she took up to Grand Prix level and still perfers them today. She calls the WBs dumbloods.

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  5. That is so awesome!! He's such a good boy. :D

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  6. Dancer just jumped the sun beams. Like they were six foot oxers.

    Love the memes in this LOLOLOL...

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  7. ALIENS! So many aliens, so little time to defeat them all by dumping our riders and running away. Go, Tucker! And go, Marissa, for sticking with him, and encouraging him to reevaluate. Not easy. ("...sensible until they are not."). Bwahahahahahaha. Glad you are baaaack.

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  8. awww poor Tucker!! those sunbeams are the WORST!! an arena i ride in has west facing windows and the late afternoon sun always lands right on a fence (or in our eyes) when we're trying to jump... the horses are very frequently not amused :(

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  9. I nonstop giggled the entire time reading this.

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  10. My horse is a paint, with some TV in his pedigree, and he has done the same thing. He might walk up to it and try to poke it with a hoof too.

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  11. Well we don't call them dumbbloods for nothing ;)

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  12. This is all brilliant and hilarious. I'm glad Tucker was so good, and that you were able to work through it so well. It sounds like he really trusts you.

    And THANK YOU re the TB vs WB comment. That cracked me up. My baby TB has the best brain ever, and my "seen it all" semi-retired A-circuit jumper Hanoverian can lose it in a hot second.

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