|bobby and ranger checking each other for cookie residue.|
|the jump behind him is what we've been jumping the past few times|
we've been in the outdoor. just for comparison. it's 2'3".
|TERRIFYING. or not.|
I gave him ONE solid smack behind my leg with the whip and brought him back around. Pretty standard procedure, right? I really don't feel like I did anything wrong. I gave him all the go cues, made sure he wasn't able to duck out, and he stopped at an 18" fence that he's jumped higher a dozen times before. It felt pretty dirty to me, and I felt totally right in giving him a crack.
Well, Bobby acted like I had stood there for ten minutes and beaten the shit out of him. He was completely traumatized. I couldn't even get him to turn in towards the jump. He was leaping sideways, leaping backwards, baby rears, baby bucks, big boy spins. You name it. He was freaking the fuck out. Over nothing! I tossed my whip to the side of the arena about halfway through this meltdown just to rule it out, and it didn't make a difference. He wouldn't circle by the jump, he wouldn't go straight alongside it, nothing.
I don't know where this came from. I've never, ever used the whip as a punishment in the sense that he would get whipped repeatedly. In fact, I rarely use the whip at all. I never carry one when just flatting, and he almost never needs one jumping. And when he does, it's a tap on the shoulder or a pop behind my leg. I don't know where he picked up this huge phobia that jumping equals whipping equals getting the shit kicked out of him. This isn't the first time he's done this either. The last time we jumped the coop, he refused the first time, I gave him a pop, and we had to trot around for awhile before he was able to calmly trot back towards it.
The thing is, he's a sweet, dopey pony. I've known his sweet, dopey self his whole life. The only three times I've ever been semi out of touch with him was:
- When he was on the track. However, I know the person that started the syndicate that bought him and raced him. I know the trainer he was with, I know the farm he trained at. I can see him getting beat up on a little bit at the farm, but....like this? To be so terrified of getting a reprimand that he totally shuts off his brain?
- When he first got retired, he was at my college getting let down and being used for a training class. I still had friends in school when he was there and I know they would have told me if he was getting abused. Handled by some retarded people, yes, but nothing dangerous.
- When I gave him away to Lillian. I have absolutely zero doubts that she didn't do a thing mean to him. You guys saw how much of a chunky monkey he was. He was well cared for and well loved. He didn't encounter a single thing mean there, I'm positive.
I decided to try to trot him over the barrel again to see if that would spark his confidence. Nope. He started doing the same thing as soon as I turned him towards it. Flying sideways and having a complete freak out about being asked to jump it. I tried several times, just keeping a calm, rhythmical trot and not changing my body at all. It wasn't going to happen.
I walked him some more to try to bring his brain back to me, then tried walking him up to the barrel. A stride out, I gave him a little cluck and he trotted and popped over. No biggie. I gave him loads of praise and pats and ended it there.
|"i am scared of everything."|