I wanted to wait to do another post until we had another breakthrough ride, but after two fairly questionable rides I am not sure when that will happen! Such is normal when you have a hot horse who hates the cold, and boy I cannot wait til winter Lucy goes back into hibernation.
On Wednesday I hoped we would have as fun a ride as Tuesday, but Lucy was hot and bothered and quite naughty. I did canter her around a bit, which was met at first with many protests but I persevered with Maddy cheering me on and saying "sit back!" and I finally got her to cooperate. That was all in the Western saddle and rope halter.
I really did not like my horse at all during that ride.
That night I went home and got myself all convinced that next time I asked her to canter and she rooted around, I would take a crop and give her a nice convincing whack neatly behind my leg. I envisioned her being quite shocked, probably throwing a buck, but then saying "hmm, maybe I will cooperate". I was ready and even came up with a little rhyme to get myself motivated, which I will not share here because it has a lot of foul language :D
Then on Thursday I got to the barn, tacked her up in her English tack but left her bridle off because I planned to work with her on the ground first, took her over to the indoor, and discovered that another boarder's lesson was about to start. Not only could I not lunge her like I had wanted to or do much with her on the ground, but she now had to behave while someone else jumped around in the indoor while we were in there. Normally this wouldn't be a problem - we've been in the ring many times while someone else is riding/jumping/lessoning, but given her behaviour the day before, I was very worried that she would be bad.
We had just enough time for a quick lunge and then the other horse came in the ring (which she spooked at, just to give you an idea of where her brain was at), so I had to either suck it up and get on, or go back to the barn and wait out the lesson. I decided to put my big girl pants on and get on and see how many brain cells I had to work with. She started out jumpy and stupid so I put her straight to work, shoulder in, haunches in, bending circles, etc. She accepted my aids very nicely and I thought hey, maybe we'll have a good ride! When the person taking the lesson was doing something complicated (flying changes across the diagonal or jumping), I brought Lucy into the middle of the ring where we would be out of the way and made her wait patiently. Then when the lesson student took a walking break to have a chat with the instructor, I put Lucy back to work. She tends to think that after she's been allowed a long rein for any length of time, or stood in the middle, she should be done. If I ask her to go back to work, she pins her ears and acts like an ass for a few minutes before resigning herself to work. Last night she started pulling that crap but I didn't put up with any of it and very quickly she realised it wasn't going to get her anywhere. The first time, she kicked out at my leg and I whacked her with my crop that I had bravely envisioned using liberally but in practice, I realised I would probably die if I actually hit her with it while trying to canter. She was so taken by surprise that she kind of startled a bit as her head went up like, "UM WTF WAS THAT???!" but went forward as I asked, and without any theatrics. By the second time she had gotten a break standing in the middle and then was put back to work, she just got to it without any protests. This was very good :)
She didn't have a problem with the horse in the lesson jumping the jumps we were standing next to, or cantering around. I was happy about that since I could just envision an explosion when the other horse came up behind her to jump down the long side. Nope, not a peep from her!
She was doing so well by the end of it, offering a round (but slightly tense) trot and putting forth a very reasonable effort. At one point I was like, wow this is going surprisingly well and I should stop now before it falls apart!
Two strides later, we were coming down the long side as the instructor went to adjust the height of a jump. Lucy was trotting nicely when she got to the jump being adjusted and absolutely lost her shit, throwing a tantrum where all four legs were kind of running in place (yet she wasn't going anywhere...it was like a piaffe from hell), with a lot of embarrassing farting and even a little squeal if I remember correctly. I kind of just sat there, my hands forward and my leg on, waited for her to get over herself, and when she was finished we continued trotting on as the instructor picked her jaw up off the ground. Yeah, my horse is speshul. The girl taking a lessons' mom was there watching as all this went on and she remarked, "you have a lot of patience".
Anyway, we got to the end of the ring and I really DID finish the ride before anything else happened!
Moral of the story: if you think you should finish the ride, FINISH IT!
At this point I am trying to decide if this is really the Lucy that I am going to have to deal with every winter. Would she be better at a barn with massive amounts of turnout? I really would hate to leave my barn - I am very happy there, the barn owner rocks, I love my fellow boarders and overall it's the best boarding situation I have had so far. The turnout is so small, though. Would she be happier if she could have some space to zoom around, stretch out, continuously move? This year she will turn 7 - the age I've heard so many people say that TB's calm down. Will she magically take a deep breath and chill out on January 24th? Or will she still be a nutter in the cold weather next year?
Not really sure.
There are a few boarding options, none as convenient for me as the one she's in now, which is a quarter mile from my house. One is about 45 minutes away but she could be boarded outside with a run-in in a large grass paddock, big enough for her to stretch out if she needed to. I think a lot of her soreness issues would resolve themselves if she was able to move around and not be stalled at all. I also think her princess complex might take a hit if she had to rough it outside. That is a reasonably priced option as she'd be on pasture board and my costs would be about the same as they are now, BUT is it worth risking another disastrous boarding situation? The farm in question is a beautiful farm that needs some major help in terms of footing and fencing, as it has been neglected in recent years by the owner. My current barn has awesome footing both inside and outside.
So I am trying to decide if it is worth the risk to give up my spot at my barn to try a different turnout situation, or if I just need to tough it out for another couple months until it warms up and summer Lucy returns.