In stark contrast to her fantastic behaviour for our photoshoot, Lucy has been an absolute nutcase this week!
So tell me, Thoroughbred lovers and owners: when do I get to look forward to some consistency?!
Her new fun game is Spooking At Things That Have Been There All Summer. She plays this while we're riding in the outdoor ring, because with the leaves falling off the trees, she can now see lots of **very** scary things in the bushes, like hoses and a fallen basketball hoop. My ride on Monday was a tad bit scary to the point where I actually got off and lunged her in her three hot spots, which I NEVER do. I usually prefer to ride it out because I find her easier to control from the saddle than the ground, but there was one big spook where I actually thought I was going over her shoulder. A last chance attempt at jamming some weight into my heels and picking up her face did the trick and I managed to stay aboard, but sheesh!!! I would prefer not to get broken right now, TYVM.
Lunging did the trick and she even started to relax and stretch in the three areas of doom. I hopped back on and we trotted once around without spooking at anything and called it a day!
I was exhausted on Tuesday so I didn't ride but instead went straight for the lunging. This time I also pulled out the side reins but left them off for the first twenty or so minutes while she warmed up. It was the same routine: spook, run, cavort, try to pull back, go forward, rinse and repeat! but after those first twenty minutes she got over herself and did some nice work though she was quite fresh towards me (more on that below). I praised her and hooked up the side reins on the very loosest setting and sent her out again, and we actually got stretching! into the contact! it's a miracle!!
Anyway, about the freshness (and I'm sure you're all shocked at this. Lucy? FRESH?! nooooo, never!) :
A couple of times while I was lunging her without the side reins, she pinned her ears, turned her head in to look at me, and came closer. I took this as a direct challenge. At first I didn't know quite what to do but I do not want another horse who thinks it's cool to run at you (been there, done that with a 17.2hh TB who ran anyone over who came into his paddock...not fun!) so I flicked the lunge line at her haunches, to which she responded by shooting forward.
The next time she did it, I got pissed at her. I mean, come on Lucy. Don't be mean. So I threw the extra lunge line at her shoulder. I didn't really need her to go anymore forward, but she did need to stay out and stop threatening me. She responded to this by spinning her butt outward and trying to back up to get away. I held on tightly and flicked the line at her rear to get her going again, which she did.
She did it once more and I did the same thing again but more firmly with a little bit of verbal backup.
When I was walking her out we did a lot of work on the ground, where I made it very clear that she was not to be in my space no matter what. If I walked sideways into her, she better hurry her little fuzzy butt sideways to get out of the space that was now mine.
She's already tough enough to deal with, without having to worry about a major attitude problem and a taste for blood. She has also started getting really fresh on the crossties and has even tried to bite me. I have NO tolerance for this but I am torn at what to do to correct it, since she's tied and I don't want to teach her to fly forward and break the cross ties. She doesn't currently know she can do this and the few times she's spooked while crosstied, she has stopped immediately when she felt the pressure from them. I could detach them and then discipline her, but I am not sure that the point would get to her when there is that delay. I don't think it's fair to smack her when she is tied, though. It's asking for a big incident.