Sore, Sassy, Sour, Strong.. or a Star?

If you've read my minor bitching on IG, you might have noticed that I have a piss monster for a pony right now.  Every ride over the last two weeks or so has included some sort of acrobatics, normally with an Archie head aiming at my face.

I love it.  Really.  Because it means I'm in the saddle, right?

Not the most dramatic flail, but the only one with evidence.

Like anyone else, I run through the mental list of Shit That Could Be Wrong:
  • I have hulked him out too much for our saddle.  Now his back is breaking.
  • I've broken him and he's in pain and it's because I somehow did too much too soon.
  • Something's wrong in his legs.
  • Or his shoulder.
  • Or his back.
  • Or his fucking brain.
  • Taking him off the regular SmartFlex Senior and putting him on the herb-free was the worse decision ever, because his joints were only being held together with my spit and Demon's Claw or Dragon's Claw or the brain stem fluid of a goat in eastern Maine, or whatever the fuck is actually in our SmartPaks.
  • I'm not fit enough to keep up with his fitness (which might be the truest statement of my life).
  • My aids have dissolved and when I think I'm trying to keep him from bulging right, I'm actually very politely asking him to crow hop on his front end a few times and bring his potentially-nose-smashing head ever closer to my face.  The intermittent bucks are just a bonus.
  • His chronic back-soreness has returned with a vengeance and he really misses his meh-chiro.  And the vet.  It's been too, too long since his regular bi-weekly vet visits.
  • He's completely done with me and circles, thanks.
So, yeah.  I re-evaluated everything.  I took my tiny spurs off, in case they were offending him.  I switched between my super-fancy BOT saddle pad and regular pads and regular pads with a memory foam half pad.  I took him in the ring.  I took him out of the ring.  I did big circles.  I did little circles. I did serpentines and straight lines.  I walloped his ass and growled.  I babied and petted and sang.  I pushed him forward into a big angry trot.  I held him in a collected trot.  We did lateral work until I wasn't sure that he could go straight.  And at some point in every ride, he exploded.

Being afraid of him isn't an option.  I refuse to be afraid of riding my horse, because I spent so long terrified.  Worse case scenario?  I fall off.  I've fallen off before.  I'll certainly fall off again.

Last night, we seemed to have some breakthrough.

A movie is being filmed at the plantation house behind my barn (I don't think I've ever photographed it, but I will).  All of our explosions have occurred facing away from the woods between us, so part of me has wondered if he's reacting to something I can't hear.  Last night, the production brought them to the end of our pasture, where I normally ride down to the trail.  This blew little pony brain.

The random blue jug is coated in something sticky and they're all over the barn to catch flies.
Blue barrels covered by the crew, so as not to be seen in the shot.  I'm sure screaming, "Trot, you mofo!" would have been edited out, too.  
But between all that shit going on (seriously, black passenger vans drove back and forth every ten minutes, with or without passengers.  I waved at every single one.), focusing really, really hard on a skillful warm up, engaging him for the complete duration of our ride, and varying what we did, I had a well-behaved horse.

Red car and black van playing chicken.  Seriously, I could have tapped the glass on these vehicles.
I hate to put off cantering, but I really wasn't going to risk it until he had his behavioral issues under hand.  Even still, I may wear my vest.  

Relaxed jerkface.

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  1. Usually they can hear far more than we, demons in the woods most definitely a sound. Also martingales help from keeping your nose from getting smashed in. Doesn't need to be so tight that it restricts head movement (because that is not the point) but most definitely to prevent face breakage.

    1. Yup. Was just going to say you might consider one. Doesn't need to be cranked tight, but puts a limit on how much "bad boy" gets up in your face.

    2. You kinda have to be aware of how a horse would respond with a martingale tho, because my mare FIGHT tie-downs/ martingales, etc. In her previous home where she was barrel raced the shit out of, she broke several tie-downs.

  2. L. has a great idea with the martingale! No one likes a broken nose. But I'm glad you figured out that he was getting freaky about the film crew - maybe you can get some of them to feed him treats??

  3. aaaaaand this is why my mare wears a running martingale - bc she's a lunatic with swinging her pretty face around. still tho - i know the feeling of worrying like crazy whenever the horse appears sour or sassy (is it my saddle? is she ulcery? have i ruined her? can we only ride with a group now?)... definitely no fun. good luck working through it!

  4. Must be crazy rehabbing pony season. Phoenix I believe is fed up with this slow rehab crap and would like to run like the wind (or as fast as his old man stride can take him). He was ripping my arms off when I rode him on Monday and I'm guessing since I will be riding during the schooling day for a B show at my barn he will be similar tonight. Yes I will be the person getting run away with on the 26 yr old...
    I hope your boy settles down soon!

  5. ' 'Tis the season to be jerky, fa la la la' Even my uber chill mare has exhibited some distaste for our 6am rides. Though, her definition of 'crazy' is galloping off while mounting, skittering to the side while mounting, or my favourite, acting super calm and then galumphing off in fear of the chickens that have always been in the same spot......

  6. Sounds like you are doing what you can with the scenario you are dealt right now!

  7. So frustrating! Get a martingale so he doesn't break your face open and maybe try some calming supplement? Like Mare Magic?? It's just rassberry leaves and I know lots of people that give it to geldings.

  8. I too echo the martingale. It might be worth having a back xray- maybe there's something wrong with his spine.

    However, I just finished a session with my girl thinking what the hell did i get myself into. Sigh.

  9. I've just given up on making excuses for my horse when he throws random asshole fits. I'm just like, "Whatevs. Being an asshole. We'll move on when you're ready, asshole." Sometimes horses are just assholes because they can be. I feel that way myself all the time.

  10. Maybe this is his version of Cock of the Walk? But yeah, I take Carly's approach. Asshole first, ask questions later is my horse's MO.

  11. I have an asshole horse. He really is just such a dick sometimes, for no reason, just because. Then other times, he is angel princess baby pony, and it makes me feel like something is wrong... but then he's a dick again and i'm like OH RIGHT HI YOU ARE MY HORSE HELLO.

    Anyways, I agree with Carly.. keep on doing you, it sounds like you are taking the right approach to all of it. Best of luck. Hope it gets better (and you stay safe, and unharmed)

  12. Ugh -- Miles has been like this lately and It's hard for me not to worry about what could be wrong. The answer though, is just me getting tougher. Le sigh.

  13. "My aids have dissolved and when I think I'm trying to keep him from bulging right, I'm actually very politely asking him to crow hop on his front end a few times and bring his potentially-nose-smashing head ever closer to my face. The intermittent bucks are just a bonus" BAHAHAHAHHAHAHHA OMG This is somehow what I think all.the.time. Wow I'm crazy.

  14. Ah I have an old man jerk-face too. Well mostly he's sweet but if there are birds he's a jerk. He literally ran me over to get away from... birds. Sigh. Glad you are riding again though :)