February 24, 2013

Lions and Rednecks and Jumps, OH MY!

My post-stall cleaning ride today should have probably been a hack, but it was too wet outside, and I paid the price by having to fight a war with Connor.  I cried.  It was a terrible ride.  We rode in the indoor, with the doors open at one end for the first time this season, with a really tall gymnastic set up on one side and a pile of blocks in the center of the arena.  I would get his attention, then lose it, get it, then lose it.  I felt like I was yelling "IT IS NOT THE PONY'S JOB TO LOOK FOR LIONS ACROSS THE STREET!" with my body language the entire ride, as he threw his head straight up with his ears on everything but me every time he went past the door, the windows, or the jumps.  Dramatic post-ride re-enactment of Giraffe Pony:

The windows in our indoor are at a height at which a 14hh pony can only look out of them if his head is straight up in the air like a giraffe, and if he's working correctly, he can't see anything.  He did that a lot (and turned his head to look, too) when he first got here as a 5 year old, but he's almost 7 and has been worked in that arena for 15 months now, with firm guidance on what is and is not acceptable behavior during a ride; he knows better with the windows, and he knows better with the open door.  There are windows every 12 feet or so, so every 12 feet I was making corrections for his immature behavior, for a half-hour.

We fought and fought, with him taking a mile if I gave an inch with the reins, and me drawing my elbows back and getting tense as a result.  Transitions every few strides, lateral work, nothing was working and he was frustrated and I had tears in my eyes.  When, after a half-hour of this, he finally sought the bit and got soft everywhere except the open door, I told him 'Good pony!' and pushed my elbows forward, which caused him to relax even more.  Hm.  I got some good, connected trot work out of him and was a walk transition away from ending on a positive note when our previously-mentioned redneck neighbors started 1) irresponsibly shooting their rifle overandoverandover in the same manner as last time and 2) throwing wood blocks off their second story deck into a trailer below.  The horses started running scared in their fields and Connor threw his head straight up.  This time it didn't take as long to get to a good note, and when I got it, I quit right there and praised him.



  1. Good for you! Those are tough rides when they decide distractions are more interesting. At least you found a good note.

  2. Hey, nothing will phase him at shows. ;) That's the only plus of bird season. Our horses are totally gun broke.

  3. Glad you were able to end on a good note.

  4. Connor is a good boy 99.9% of the time, right? I think distracted rides happen at home because those things are out of the norm - at shows, there is no norm.