Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spooking Stanley

What do you get when you work an OTTB after a week and a half of nothing?

Well, first you get a horse surprised you are placing things on his back. "A saddle pad? Another saddle pad? A Saddle? Now a GIRTH, are you mad?! I don't even get to finish my treatings?!?"

Then you get a totally forward, feeling good horse. Oh my, was he forward. Also sound as a pound, which I just loooved. His gaits looked great on the lunge. I couldn't resist trotting him over a tiny cross rail a couple of times; he looooved it. Very full of himself, but nothing naughty. Here goes nothing, I thought, as I mounted up.

Yeah, he was still forward...and it was lovely....most of the time. Was he supple and bending and listening? Maybe not as much as I would like. Still, any day I can get that amazing Working Trot is a good day. We had beautiful, brief moments of "on the bit" work (yeah, we are still in the hackamore, but he was a powerhouse behind and I could feel that recycling of energy in my hands). Again, after so much time off-and let's be honest, not super consistent work even before that-I knew we would have some issues. Oh, but I want to feel that trot again;)

He also...spooked. Which is so not like him. I sorta knew something was coming, only because he was so "wired". Also, our entrance to the indoor arena has moved, and the "new" entrance has all new sights for him to gawk at (note to self-close door next time). His spook was pretty mild-sort of a hind-end scoot with his head in the air, and he came back right away. Still, it was out of nowhere, not even NEAR the stupid door, and there was no noise that I could hear.

So not a big deal, right? No, it shouldn't be. Still, when he scooted, I did the exact opposite of what I should have. While I didn't curl into a fetal position, I did pull back on those reins (both of them). Ugh. Luckily he didn't hold it against me, and he still came back. I would really, really like to erase that reaction from my brain, though. He was on a loose rein, at the walk when it happened, so I doubt I even made that much contact. Nevertheless, I guess it's time to work on those one rein stops, if only for my benefit. I don't want to do that if and when I ever ride him in a bit again.

After the spook we still went on to have some lovely work. I've got food for thought, though, no doubt.

Still, just for tonight, I'm going to savor the feeling of that wonderful trot, and be thankful to have such a wonderful horse to offer it to me.

Edited to Add: Ow Ow Owww...Imma be sore tomorrow. Lo, am I out of shape!


  1. Sounds wonderful! Don't those trots feel great? My horse Rogo seems to be finding his working trot again, after being rather lethargic in trot for some time now. Maybe there's something in the air :)
    So glad your horse is going well.

  2. I love a forward moving trot too! It sounds like Miles was feeling pre-t-ty good :).

    I think my first reaction to anything a horse does spook wise is to pull back...if the horse doesn't respond, then my brain takes over and the one rein stop comes in to play. It's hard not to just react in those kind of scenarios. I'm glad he didn't have a big spook and you were able to bring him back down.

  3. I'm in the same position that you are, the muscle memory to pull back on both reins during a spook is so ingrained I worry that I'll never get rid of it.

    I'm learning single-rein-riding before I try to start my mare again and my reaction to spooking is one of the reasons why.

  4. Tell me that some day the automatic pull back on the reins will go away!!! I do it all the time. My instructor says to try to remember to open up one side to turn the horse's head making them turn. I never remember....ugh!

  5. I'm jealous. I gave my guy a week off. What did I get? A lame horse.

  6. Good ride..love a sound, forward happy pony! I laughed out loud at the fetal position comment, lol! Your write so well, I felt every movement of Miles...even the scooting spook.
    I was SOOOORE too from my ride on Sunday. Funny too, b/c I was just telling a friend "No, I don't get sore anymore." Liar! :)