Thursday, February 25, 2016

Let's Not Jinx It But....

We had another super ride last night. I'm not really sure what's happening, but last night (again!) Tucker started off wild (two days of pouring rain and no turnout) and ended up lovely.  I kept waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop... but it didn't.  

Started off not very promising.  His friend Blue left the ring and he started whinnying like a maniac. Then his buddy Cisco left and he threw a full-on Tucker-Tantrum, complete with stomping of the feet, flailing of the giant marlin neck, and finally blindly running backwards with zero regard for his own safety when he flailed so hard he slammed into the bit and scared himself.  Oh, Tucker.

Needless to say, this start did not exactly lead me to believe we were bound for greatness.  It did clue me in to the fact that we needed to get to work, asap.  Thank my lucky stars I planned ahead and plugged his ears because it was really windy and rainy last night and the indoor was loud, but Tucker was blissfully unaware.

I started trotting on a twenty meter circle at the top of the ring (farthest away from the door through which his friends left which seemed to be the source of most of his frustration) and made the rules really simple at first - just keep the same tempo, no flattening and racing, no sucking back and going sideways.  Sounds simple enough, took us a while to accomplish.  (Baby steps.)

We started off with so much flailing and head tossing that I was finding it hard to steer.  At which point it occurred to me that maybe if I tried that sitting trot thing again I could anchor myself a little and keep him from yanking me around so much.  It worked.  He tried three times to twist his head and yank me around and when I didn't budge, he just gave up.  It turns out sitting up and sitting back has practical advantages other than hiding your muffin top.  Who knew?

Gratuitous Tucker photo to break up wall of text
So once he was a little more consistent I started working on our usual straightness issues - on a circle he swings his haunches out as we are coming back to the rail, and his shoulder gets a stuck to the outside coming off the rail, so I worked on anticipating that a little bit better so I could catch it before it happened, which means less of a correction and no protest from him.  A fresh Tucker is a super sensitive Tucker, so I was doing my best to be tactful.

After I had the basic straightness under control and I could adjust the trot forward and back without issue, we did some lateral work:  shoulder-fore to leg yield, haunches-in to shoulder-in, zig-zag leg yields.  I kept my focus on trying to get him to bend through the middle, not just through his neck and shoulder.  

He started having a bit of a meltdown about his haunches-in to the right, because I wanted him to do it without dislocating my left shoulder (I know, I'm the worst) and he got super flustered and started bouncing up and down and threw it in reverse so we had to go back to the walk and work through it really gently until he took a deep breath and remembered he knows how to do it.  He's been pretty delicate lately.

Our canter work was awesome again, he is clearly much more comfortable in the canter than the trot, so I think on days where he's not wild I'll start cantering sooner in the warm-up.  I worked the right lead more this time, spiraled in and out on a circle to make sure I had control of his outside shoulder. I tested the waters with some very conservative lengthenings and he wasn't too exuberant, so I'm hoping we can do more of that as the week progresses.  We did some simple changes through the trot, I tried to sit but I kept sneaking one posting step in there, force of habit.  Once again there was no leaping, no bouncing, no flailing.  I'm really beginning to think the deep footing in our old indoor had a lot to do with all his antics.

We did a little more forward trotting after the canter work.  I am definitely not ready to sit through a trot lengthening, no idea how I'm supposed to accomplish that.  I had to post or I was literally going to bounce right off the horse.  As for Tucker, he stayed light and even in the contact when I moved him up, which I think (hope!) means he was sitting and pushing and not just running.

Is it possible the February horse has learned to use all his tension and energy for good instead of evil? Is he growing up now that he's almost 14?  Or did I just totally jinx it and I'm going to get bucked off next time?  


  1. ha i tried to sit a lengthening once. ONCE. lol... glad Tucker is so happy to play ball right now!

  2. I feel sometimes they never grow up


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