Thursday, April 28, 2011


If you watched the video that I posted yesterday, you probably saw Lucy's new fun game: switching her lead as an evasion.

Let's review a brief history of Lucy's evasions:

1. Running around like a giraffe with her head in the air and singing "Lalalalalalalalalalalalalalala!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" to herself constantly.

2. Grabbing the bit and going for it (this was built on evasion #1).

3. Leaping through the air like a Lipizzaner.

4. Bucking.

5. Standing in one place no matter how hard I kicked her (and I was NOT nice about it).

6. Standing in one place and kicking out every time I urged her forward.

7. Rearing (this lasted two short days because there was NO delay in swift and severe punishment for this behaviour, AKA, she got her little dappled heinie kicked).

8. And most recently, the swapping of leads.

You may think, "Wow, how wonderful! A horse with a built-in lead change!" and yes, it is quite wonderful, but not when I am trying to do everything humanly possible to prevent her from swapping her lead, i.e. bend her around my inside leg, block her outside shoulder with my outside rein/leg so that she can't pop it out and change her lead, etc. Despite all of that, my athletic-to-a-fault little mare still manages to do the most even and perfect flying lead change, and around a corner no less.

My instructor watched this happen in our lesson four times. The first time I took the blame. "Well that was totally my fault; I had a half-ass bend going on and I probably wasn't even supporting at all on the outside." He just replied, "well fix it!" and then he coached me through it. So we picked up the canter again and wham, she did it a second time. This time I got mad. I didn't want to be asking her for a flying lead change at this point in her training, so I had to bring her down to a trot, and then I had to spend time getting her balanced again, and then I could ask her to pick up the canter. It just took so LONG that by the time we were cantering again, she had already finished celebrating her victory *and* planned her next move. I said this to my instructor and he assured me that she hadn't won because she was still moving forward, but I know the way the female brain works and she had totally won.

I was screwed before I even picked up the third canter, and once again, she did it. Now we were just trying to get once around the ring at the canter without any changes so that I can ask her for a trot transition on MY terms, and not because she's popped her lead. It took four canters to do this, and she was absolutely tickled pink with herself. So crafty, so clever, SO INFURIATING.

And don't doubt that as soon as I master this evasion, she will come up with another one. It's just the way it goes with this horse!! I can't say I'm excited to discover what new fun games she devises, either...

But yes, when we eventually do start schooling changes, I am confident it will be a breeze.


  1. I'm afraid she'll find a way to make it not-so-easy when you're actually asking for them. Just a hunch. ;)

  2. Ah, mares. Gotta love them. I had one that did that unless I was sitting perfectly still -- the slightest shift in my balance and she would swap. Really embarrassing in flat classes when she's doing tempi changes down the long side!

  3. My dressage instructor's mare (of course) really really likes her flying lead changes. She can do them while half passing the opposite direction... to the point that my instructor's instructor was like, "That's not physically possible".

    Only a mare. That's why we love them, right?

  4. Mares!!! I am still at the stop and refuse to go forward every so often stage. When I put the spurs on - she cow kicks out. If I touch her with the dressage whip - bucks. Spin her - doesn't help. How have you gotten past this invasion?

    My mare is just turning 4 - been under saddle almost a year. She has her great days too :)

  5. Hi Kelly, I honestly jammed my heels down and MADE her go forward. The one thing I did not want to do was ask her to back up, because that will more than likely lead to rearing. Her two days of rearing stemmed from refusing to move forward and I was not diligent enough about fixing it. I can sit a lot of crap, but rearing is not my specialty so I did not want to let that progress at ALL.

    So as I said, I jammed my heels down, grabbed mane with one hand, and whacked her right behind my leg with a crop. Yes she had a hissy fit that I DARE hit her, but that got her to move forward. The other thing that seemed to work well was throwing her off-balance so that she had to move her front feet or else she'd fall over. I did this by turning her head sharply and kicking her (and backing up with the crop if necessary). It's hard for them to rear/kick/buck with their head turned like that, but again she was basically forced to move forward. Good luck with your mare and be careful!

  6. Hmm... the mares are so damn crafty :) If it were Mollie I would either
    a) change direction after she swaps the lead so now she is actually on the "correct one"
    b)counter bend her and just proceed counter cantering.

    I've found that with Mollie these naughty evasions aren't nearly as fun if I actually allow them and force her to continue doing them. She never actually plans on continuing with them (it takes far more work than just going around correctly) so once she realizes it doesn't phase me she gets sick of it realllly soon.

  7. This was hysterical! I was surprised for a minute at the number of "Agh! Mares!!" responses you got, until I thought back to my own riding history. Then I remembered why I STOPPED riding mares, lol. I'm lucky that the mare I have now is somehow missing that female mindset gene and apparently thinks she's a gelding. Man, I'm spoiled! =)

  8. Thanks Kate for the advice from one who has been there done that! In the back of my mind. I KNOW I have to use the crop and ride it out - just my over 40 yr old mind and body are screaming NO :)
    What was I thinking getting a mare!


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