Oh, those were the days. So glad they're not gone forever.
Thursday was very warm--it was almost seventy out by noon, and while Bobby has thankfully mostly halted the mad rush to grow his winter coat back in no matter how often I clip it back off again, he was feeling pretty sluggish.
So I hopped off quick and brought out my dressage whip.
|feeling so super excited to be a dressage horse.|
Long, long time readers will remember that Bobby had some crazy whip phobia that seemingly developed out of nowhere. For those not super familiar with the history between Bobby and I, I bought him from the college we both went to (Bobby being a part of my breeding class, later a training class I TA'ed, and finally I got him ready to go off to be a real race horse) after he'd had some let down and riding time.
I had him for eight months before I gave him away due to a boarding situation I was in that I had to get out of immediately, and I couldn't afford to move both him and Red to a new barn. When I had to put Red down a couple months later, the woman I gave him to gave him back to me because she's a truly incredible human being that I will cherish forever. (Although some days...)
When I got him back, he was fat and lazy and had pretty much thought he'd been retired to the good life. Thus began a year of crazy ups and downs. Bobby threw a tantrum about pretty much anything he deemed hard. He wouldn't get near ground poles. He'd flip out on trail rides for no reason after walking calmly for the first half of the ride. Any correction I gave him was an excuse to run backwards or sideways no matter what obstacle was in his way.
But the biggest issue was his fear of whips, one he didn't have when I first bought him. There's no way this fear manifested while he was at L's. I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't even a whip on her property. I still have no idea why he decided to take such violent offense to them out of the blue one day, but it was there. He'd go so far as to walk by a whip leaning against the wall and lose his mind.
Eventually he got over me carrying a jumping whip. To this day, he takes zero offense to me using it. The dressage whip is a different story. After a lot of work with him, I got him to the point where I can carry one now without him freaking out. He gets tense initially, and I can use it maybe once without him losing his mind (I use it mostly for lengthenings), but if it stays in my hand the entire ride without moving, he usually forgets about it and goes about his life like a normal horse.
|so fast. so angry about being forced to go fast.|
With that rambling background, back to Thursday's ride.
I got back on with the whip and there was no drama from Bobby. He reacted exactly how I expected: he immediately went right to work to avoid the imaginary wrath of Mr Tappy, and I was really, really pleased with with the ride.
I brought the whip out with me Friday in case it was needed again, figuring I could drop it if he got tense during our lesson. Unfortunately, our lesson was cancelled last minute, but I did do a quick hack in the ring before the other rider and I went out on a trail ride. Bobby was a dream right off the bat. Transitions to canter were quiet, the trot was loose and forward, and his walk was big and swinging.
On our trail ride, he was fine until we came back to the walk after trotting around the conditioning field. He started getting a little wound up and trotting sideways. I'm not sure what it was over, but I sat there with a loose rein and ignored him as I talked to B and eventually he gave it up and started walking again.
|not the same creature on the ground and under saddle.|
the devil lurks within.
But he stayed very tight and tense, so when we got back to the barn, I took him to the outdoor to trot around a little more. "A little more" turned into thirty solid minutes of doing nothing but trotting figures until he loosened his back and we could quit.
At this point, I hadn't had to so much as lift the whip for anything. It hadn't accidentally brushed him. It hadn't purposefully tapped him. Knowing Bobby though, I had my suspicions he was slowly starting to get upset about Mr Tappy's continued presence.
Tough luck for Bobby because to me, having a rider carry a whip is just one of those life lessons horses need to learn and accept. Stand still at the mounting block, tie, get on a trailer, ignore a passive whip, etc.
Now my goal is to finish what I started a few years ago: the whip is going to get carried in every ride until it's a complete nonissue and he remains relaxed while it's in my hand.
This turned into one of the top three most epic Bobby meltdowns of all time Saturday. Stay tuned for tomorrow because I won't be seeing my horse all week so I have nothing else for fill. Sorry, suckers!