Saturday I had a mid-morning lesson. I was excited to see what Laurie would come up with next for us following our great jumping lesson Wednesday evening. Longed Hemie and he was relaxed and obedient. Hopped on and went into the arena - he was feeling good, maybe a tad lazy. 60 seconds later he started freaking out, hopping up and down like a deer. Then he started doing a bit of a spin. Kinda like Booker T's "Spinaroonie":
1. Relax, stay cool, and hope he calms down.
2. Use some aids and try to get him to stop.
Well, I picked option #1. Yeah, I picked wrong. For whatever reason, in that moment I thought that touching is mouth or his sides would activate racehorse mode, and I didn't want to do that. Instead I felt my balance start to shift forward....then a little too far forward. Then I had another 2 options:
1. Just slide off.
2. Cling like a monkey (nod to SprinklerBandit terminology here).
Yep. I picked #1 again. For some reason I thought monkey cling might activate racehorse mode. So I slid right off and landed on my back in the dirt. I was wearing my vest so it was no big deal. Hemie promptly stopped and looked at me like "What are you doing on the ground, Mom?" (Funny enough, I was planning to try a flying dismount at the trot today to see how he'd react. He passed the test.)
What the heck just happened? look on my face.
Laurie yells "You must have girthed him way too tight!" We check the girth - nope, not tight at all. In fact, a little loose. We were kinda stumped. Bee sting? Some other tack irritation?
Laurie hopped on and at Hemie's first sign of trouble she whipped him into a tight little circle (that horse can CROSS his hinds!!!). The verdict: he's feeling fresh, but was too obedient to "let it out" in the round pen the first time. We put him back in the pen and asked for a very forward canter. Then I got on and we proceeded to have a very interesting lesson. Here's the main points:
- We are now implementing an ever higher level of contact, especially with outside rein.
- We are not tolerating head tossing - head tossing results in stronger contact until he stops, then a release.
- Right bend was challenging for us in one corner-pit area of the arena. Need to work on more.
- When feeling frisky, Hemie gets "stuck" going up and down and needs to be told to move forward.
- Interestingly, he gets annoyed maintaining the trot, and it is OK for us to canter around until he relaxes. At least for now. Picking our battles here. (Good thing trainer told me this, because otherwise I would NOT have allowed canter when he's frisky. Again, don't want to activate racehorse mode!)
- He's not allowed to move quickly past obstacles he googly-eye-looks at. Stopping him is allowed, as is bending his neck away while also moving his shoulders towards it, but absolutely no increase in speed.
- Ask him for more forwardness in the longe. Possibly consider trying to elicit bucks, etc. He's too good to offer them up on his own.
Hemie got some new shavings and another huge bucket of feed. I've got lots of things to meditate on and to practice!
Next post I'll tell you about our first XC schooling which took place on Sunday. =)