Roosters and Dirt Road

Today's riding epiphany brought to you by: the Bold Archer, spooking at sounds since '06.

I worked Archie pretty hard yesterday. Downward transitions, bending and counter-bending, and just working hard on keeping that forward momentum while in a frame. So, today, all I was craving was a simple walking trail ride around the property.

He spooked when we heard a kid yelling in the woods, when a branch snapped, when we came across the boat trailer he's seen a dozen times, when the rooster crowed in front of him, when the rooster crowed next to him, when the rooster crowed behind him, when the tree creaked against the other tree, and when the neighbor opened his shed. Archie did full body tremors when a branch rubbed his butt, when the Skinny Guy started screaming, and when I made him walk by a rusted barrel that he had already seen in the other direction.

Is this the Spring Stupids or a horse who has lost confidence in his rider?

The epiphany was this: if I am devoted to my horse as I say I am, in that I will not replace him with another until he is happily retired or semi-retired, then I need to give up being the rider I want to be and instead be the rider he needs me to be.

And my horse, my pushy, opinionated, arthritic wonderpony, needs me to be more confident. I previously confused that with pushing his physical limits, but it's not about cantering more or jumping more. He simply needs me to make a decision and get us both there. Today, that meant being decisive that I would not dismount when he was stupid and would not play a fool to his antics, instead, I would consistently and persistently push him forward with my leg and my seat and my voice, while still asking him to do the things he has to do: frame and straight and responsive.

It was one of my hardest rides and, without a doubt, the most difficult half-hour walking trail ride I've ever done.

You Might Also Like

6 comments

  1. Sometimes I think its just Thoroughbred Brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shhhh.. don't perpetuate the stereotype. Or, wait, do. And then we seem amazing.

      Delete
  2. My ride typically greatly influences how Houston behaves as well. I def need to take a page from your book when I go on scary hacks too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I love trail riding! I think it's awesome! I just wish I had the guts to do it more.

      Delete
  3. That is a) really insightful and b) really helpful to read. Spooks on the trail really shake my confidence, and I'm going to remember this next time I go out with my green bean!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really, really hard to do sometimes! When he spooks or acts like an idiot, my reaction is to disengage or try to soothe. Studies have shown that soothing the horse doesn't really accomplish anything and may actually reinforce the spook behavior. So I've got to toughen up and keep going forward. :(

      Delete