Monday, January 16, 2017

Under Pressure

I felt like I was suiting up for war today to ride my horse. The affect was maybe slightly spoiled by having to change into my riding boots early when I stepped into a fresh pile of very wet pee shavings in my tennis shoes and then jumped back to extricate my foot and sloshed water all down by backside, but mentally I was all over it.

Bobby had Friday off after his jump school as will be the plan for the foreseeable future. I pack his feet, give him the day off, and so far he's been coming back the next ride with nary a soundness issue so that's reassuring I'm not completely ruining my horse yet. Our ride on Saturday was shared with three to four other people in the indoor. Bobby warmed up pretty well, w/t/c, lead changes both ways without dramatics (you little shit), and then we popped over a 2' oxer with ease.

little bitty baby jump with over exaggerated leaning to land on the correct lead
because that's how i roll. no amount of yelling at me will stop it, trust me. 

It was kind of a scattered ride because the amount of people stuffed into our long but not very wide ring made things a little chaotic. We tried the jump twice more in different times throughout the ride, and he was a horrible dramatic flail monster that left the ground from almost between the two poles. It made the wheels spin on whether or not I want to even bother pursuing jumping at all, but that angst is for its own post.

The angst for this post is about taking an hour and a half to school one movement.

Bobby threw down some great work Saturday. He's slowly getting stronger and stronger behind, and I can feel it the most when we go powering across the diagonal in our newfound extended trot and he doesn't get heavy and lean. He can't hold it the full length of the long side yet, but I'm glad we're heading in the right direction with it. There were lots and lots of times I thought he'd never be able to channel enough pushing power without winging his legs out of balance and splatting on his face.

baby steps. but they are sexy baby steps.

The not so great work was trying to do some shoulder-in. For whatever reason, this movement that Bobby used to shift in and out of anywhere in the land without so much as a blink has now turned into A Thing. Bobby's go-to evasion for things is lateral movements--or just running sideways in general--and he was very easy to teach moving his body around. He's always been a hot mess longitudinally so don't be too jealous. He might have an easier time going sideways than some horses, but the concept of adjusting his frame or his stride length was/is like teaching a really fucking stupid brick wall.

one stride after a clean l-r change. you little shit.

Anyway, back to the SI struggle. He's been getting super tight in his back asking for it to the left, but he'll do it. To the right, he'll usually do it, but it might involve a flail first. On Saturday he was having none of it, and he repeatedly opted out by bashing his hind end into the support beams of the wall.

he just runs down the wall crashing his ass into things because that's how he rolls.

I didn't feel comfortable getting after him since things can escalate quickly into a spinning, no steering hot mess express, and I didn't want to unleash that crazy on other people trying to hack. I settled on getting him to go straight instead of just turning the corning and automatically going into spastic jigging. We moved on to something else, finished on a good note, I gave him Sunday off, and then I went into this morning's ride knowing I was going to have another throwback ride on my hands.

We had the ring and the barn to ourselves by the time I buckled down and got ready to battle. We started at the walk first since he's usually better at that gait. Right away he tried to get out of it by swinging his haunches out to the rail and running sideways down the wall. I came prepared for this with Mr Tappy in my outside hand, and the second he aimed for the wall, Mr Tappy was there with one little tap to say, "No butts allowed over here, sir."

That sent Bobby into an absolute melt down.

s-i or just winging our legs around dramatically? some days it's hard to tell.

One wrist twist that made the whip brush his roaming butt and he was positive the end was near. I knew it was coming, so I sat it out just asking for forward and then rewarding it by taking my spurs off when he gave it to me. If he tried to smash into the wall again, Mr Tappy was there to remind him that was no longer an option.

Without too much drama, we got it at the walk and moved on to the trot. Cue another angst ridden meltdown where we took a break from the SI to work on actually just trotting, and then trotting with an inside bend. That turned out to be the inside leg that broke Bobby's brain, and he finally slammed to a halt and refused to move.

why can't you just be good all the time?

There's stuck Bobby, and then there's stuck Bobby. When he hits the latter point, there is literally no getting him to move. I dismounted, disengaged his hind quarters to move his feet, and then led him back to the mounting block to climb aboard again.

This quick reset cleared his brain cell a little bit, and we had a trot...and then a SI. After a few steps, I halted, gave him a cookie, let him process, and then went back to the trot and tried again. SI down one whole long side, halt, cookie, process, back to trot. SI down both long sides, halt, cookie, process, stretchy walk break.

rogue inside hand alert.

Once his back was relaxed again, I turned the ship around and headed off to the right.

Dudes, it has been a long, long time since this horse has brought me to tears on the flat. I've been riding him so long and dealt with so many tantrums that he rarely gets under my skin anymore when he starts throwing these dramatics around with reckless abandon, but today he nearly got me.

Until you've seen a full Bobby Tantrum, it's impossible to picture the scope of what this horse can do. He whirls, he rears, he bucks, he runs into things, he runs backwards, he props and bolts, he'll refuse to move, and he has no hesitation getting seriously dirty and laying down with you. I absolutely, one hundred percent draw the line there. The other shit is not okay, but he's not going to get me off, and aside from scraping his butt cheeks on occasion, he's not going to hurt anyone. Laying down will get someone hurt.

He doesn't respect my legs or my spurs when he does this shit, hence the dressage whip. He abhors the whip, but at least he'll react to it. When he's refusing to move then starts pawing and dropping to his knees to lay down, a crack with the whip to a front leg will get him back up. Of course then he's been hit with the whip--something I try to never actually do--and it starts the whole fucking cycle all over again.

you fucking fuck.

I was seriously questioning my game plan to ride things out until I got what I wanted. In the past, I usually give up and find something else to end on. But this horse knows this. He is confirmed in SI, just like he's confirmed in his damn L-R change. Not backing down and forcing a change down his throat got me clean, easy changes at the end of that ride, and they've been clean and easy ever since. I wanted to keep the pressure on until he gave me what I was asking for since I know it is well within his abilities.

In a detached sort of way, it was interesting that between the bouts of being an unholy shit head, he was also trying to evade the SI by offering me other movements. He tried getting out of the trot several times by picking up a perfectly acceptable canter, and more than once he "interpreted" my leg cues into one ground covering extended trot that got shut right the fuck down because it was not what I was asking for.

no butts in the wall, bobby.

I had to get off three more times. Twice to unstick him because he wouldn't move and one an emergency dismount when I couldn't get him stop laying down. The drama is strong with this horse.

But in the end I got a right SI down the entire long side. I was on for close to two hours from the beginning of the ride to the finish, but I fucking got my SI both directions.

I hope this ride will work as well as our L-R change ride did. I don't know why Bobby gets it into his head that he can't do something he can do, but that's not going to fly anymore. I have no problem being patient and letting things slide as he learns new things, but the movements he's confirmed in--things that aren't even that hard--are going to be done when I ask for them from now on.

all rides end with scritches and cookies, even if they make me super sore afterwards


  1. Wow. You are a stronger person than I ever hope to be. That is some kind of ridiculous drama.

  2. Oh my. You have way more patience and stickiness than I could possibly hope for in a lifetime. Glad you got it done even if it wasn't enjoyable, and I really hope he's a saint for your next 9234798129 rides. Jeez.

  3. Woah, I can't even imagine having the guts and the stubbornness to deal with that as well as you did and I'm a very stubborn person. Here's hoping that he processes and makes it easier on himself next time :)

  4. ohmygod Bobby! It's like he's a drama queen, lol.

  5. So dramatic Bobby! D: Stahp it!

  6. Oh my god, Bobby. SRSLY.

    I find it infuriating when they answer the question wrong, and you both know that's not the answer but they won't answer it right, either. You have a much cooler head and a much stickier ass than I do.

  7. Ugh Bobby. He reminds me so much of Red, just more dramatic as to what he does. I hope he gives you a ton of great rides after this!

  8. I give you crazy props for dealing with all of that.. I would have no clue what do to, and even if I was good enough to ride through it I probably wouldn't have the patience!

  9. Mad props to you for riding out those kind of Bobby shenanigans!

  10. hot damn but he is the most dramatic brick wall i've ever seen.

    i'm also approximately 137% positive that bobby would absolutely have his fucking way with me as a rider lol. i'd be all like, 'ohh bobby i so sawry this so hard' and he'd laugh his ass off while rolling me off lol.

  11. I get the tantrum thing and the 'just get over yourself horse and if you just did the f-ing thing I'm asking you to do we'd have been done an HOUR ago but hey whatever' is totally relatable. :)

  12. Good for you for sticking it out. Horses seriously make things so HARD for themselves sometimes. They can be mind boggling stupid in that respect. I really hope he now has it in his head and doesn't give you any more trouble. Way to be awesome and stick with it!

  13. Teaching a really stupid, dramatic brick wall... I can so relate. Dear sweet tiny horse gods let Murray figure out extensions as well as Bobby!

  14. I literally felt like I was reading about a historical war. You're awesome for not letting him win. And please tell me that my future cart pony isn't this big of an asshole on the lines.

    1. He lay down a few times when we were breaking him to the cart, but I think he's actually better to drive now than he is to ride!

    2. So... we can take a nap together? AWESOME.

    3. I mean, as long as you just let him trot crookedly forever in a straight line, he should pull that puppy for you forever. And isn't being sort of crooked and stupid the fun part of being retired? (Basically he's yours regardless. Don't fight me on this.)

  15. Well that makes me feel way better about C. He only has one move, and while I don't enjoy it, it's not dangerous.

    Dear god. Bobby.

  16. Wow Bobby was being a nutcase. Big props to you for sticking it out and getting it in the end, I really hope he is better for the next ride. You are better than I!

  17. Horses man. I haven't had one that melts down quite like Bobby. I did have the Stationary Hony, but I couldn't unstick him. I'd get off, he'd lead fine, even jog! I'd get back on, stuck again. I eventually gave him away to some family. They don't ask much of him and he doesn't get stuck for them.
    But laying down?! Oy. I give you so much credit for sticking with it. I'm not sure Bobby understands how lucky he is that you are his human. Not many would push on as you do.

  18. Years ago, I knew a school horse who ended up as a schoolie when he started laying down at jumps he didn't want to do with the pentathlon riders. I figured he was just a total weirdo, one-off dude, but I guess it's a thing? He was a TB too.

    Anywho, sorry you had to have such a literal knock-down, drag-out fight with Bobby, but I'm definitely crossing all my crossables that he's finally got it back in his head he can SI!


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