Everything that I've gone through in the past month and a half has put a major glitch in my motivation. Horse was NQR after the three day groundwork clinic, I went broke trying to fix her, horse tried to commit suicide, I went even more broke after having to get the emergency vet out (um, insurance company, where the hell are you? didn't you get the paperwork I submitted?), hand walking and cold hosing and wrapping galore, I almost wrecked a tendon doing a shitty wrap job and then had to rehab her for that on top of everything else, and then she turned into a raging monster in all of her boredom.
Then, it was time to
get back on and to my great surprise, she was really good. I had hope,
and thought there was maybe a reason I pour my heart, soul and all my
cash into this animal. Things went well
for a week or two but then she started behaving progressively worse and
worst during each ride. It started out with some wenchy ear pinning,
then it grew into some sillies at the canter, then on Wednesday she
straight-up tried to launch me into orbit. We were cantering to the
right and she pulled her signature Lucy move: shove head down, pull
reins out of rider's hands, wheeee! Though this scares the shit out of
me every time, I was mad about a lot of different things and I was not
going to let this spoiled horse get the best of me, so I jammed my heels
down, picked her head up, prayed to god, and legged her on. She had
swapped her leads (also an evasion she likes) and when I made her keep
going, she fixed her front lead but not her hind. She was shocked that I
didn't ask her to trot and fix it. Nope, I was not playing nice that
day. If she wanted to be a jerk, then she could deal with the
consequences. So we cross-cantered around a bit and someone who
was watching said, don't you want to fix her lead? to which I replied,
oh would you like to get on and ride her? no? ok.
a few circles, she was really asking nicely to stop so we did a simple
trot step and then back into the canter without incident. I ended the ride not long after
Lucy really picked the wrong day to mess with me and after
that, she was a lot better, but I once again I was back to thinking
"why do I even bother?"
So that night, I went home and
defragmented my brain, went to bed early, and got up ready to try again
on Thursday. I went to the barn after work, did my chores, and tacked
Lucy up. She pinned her ears at me in the cross ties, and I gave her a
solid WHACK in return. Oh, what do you know, she was instantly like,
"omg can we please be friends? I don't want to fight."
lunging, I got on and was all business. She didn't get much of a
loose-rein warm up period; we really went straight to work.
I rode her in my figure 8 bridle with the Herm Sprenger Aurigan
snaffle, and then a rope halter over the bridle with a lead rope
attached to it. My plan was to do some flatwork and then practice
emergency dismounting, in hopes that I can teach her to stop when her
human dismounts. She respects the rope halter much more than her normal
leather halter, mostly because the rope halter demands respect. If she
is neutral, the halter will be also. If she pulls back, though, the
halter pushes on sensitive pressure points on her poll and face. It
works great with horses that like to pull back against pressure because
it will not break, and the pressure vanishes instantly when the horse
The work under saddle went much better than on
Wednesday, as it usually does when I am in this type of no nonsense
mood. After we had gone through all the paces, including a million and
three circles and about 65,000 transitions, I let her walk on a
rein. Without any warning, I let go of my reins and stirrups, held the
end of the lead rope that was attached to her rope halter, and vaulted
off the side. She spooked, spinning her butt away from me and trying to
back up. I stood fast against her pulling back, and within a second or
so she stopped pulling, though her face was saying, HOLY CRAP YOU ARE INSANE! I immediately let the tension go from the lead rope, walked up
to her, and rubbed her face and praised her.
We went back to the
mounting block to try again. This time I got back on and put her to
work again at the trot. Once she was going fairly nicely, I did the same
routine as I had at the walk. I had the same reaction from her but the
spook was a little less dramatic and she settled down a fraction of a
second faster. I praised her and we ended the evening on that.
I hope to get some video of this soon to show you all. I think it will take her some time to get used to it,
but I do hope this will help mitigate any "run away" situations when she dislodges her rider in the future.
She hasn't shown any discomfort or unsoundness coming back into work, and her legs are looking fantastic. Her stifle wound is getting smaller and smaller each week and the fetlock wound is looking pretty good, too.
I am not sure if this unease is a phase, the early-winter-blues, or if I am really burned out. Two people have approached me asking about an off-farm lease, and the more I think about it, the more I think I might enjoy some time off. Then the other night I was flipping through some photos from the past year and we had such an incredible summer. I don't know what to do, so for now I will keep chugging along; I at least want to get her back to where she was before her accident. Then I will think about what I want to do long term.