Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We have the stop and stand perfected!

It's official. Gabe is a butt head. And he's a rotten, stubborn brat. I tried to ride last night and spent the first 15 minutes dealing with his temper tantrum. His tantrums consist of...are you ready for it? Really ready? Alrighty, prepare to be shocked! He throws a tantrum by standing still and refusing to move in ANY direction. I think he's part ass.

He is a conundrum to me in this aspect. I have never, ever had or ridden a horse who had forward motion issues. Typically I have to figure out how to throttle them down several notches, not throw the whole thing wide open and hope for at step forward! Grrr. The silver lining is, when it comes down to it, I'd really rather him be stuck on stop than stuck on gallop madly around with broken brakes.

I took a crop with me and tried the typical move forward NOW method...squeeze, nudge, kick, SMACK! He ignored the squeeze. He ignored the nudge. He ignored the kick. He squealed and tossed his head and came up off his front a bit with the smack. Hmmm...not good. He's just unbalanced enough at this point that going UP would most likely mean we'd go OVER. And that's not a place I want to be, ever.

So, we argued (at a stand still!) for about 15 minutes. He did agree to make little circles, but putting one foot in front of the other wasn't on his menu of options. Finally, one little movement forward and I praised him like mad. Then another. More praise. What a good boy! It seemed to click but I was still having to really work for each stride. Five more minutes and he was striding along nicely but still kind of uncertain about what I was asking. And then we'd stop and he'd refuse to go forward again for awhile until suddenly, the squeeze clicked and forward he went.

Very frustrating.

I checked my saddle fit and it actually fits him better than any of my other horses. When I have the vet out to pull Coggins on all of 'em and do shots and teeth, I'm going to have the once over done on him just to make sure there isn't any joint or body soreness that is making him reluctant to go forward.


  1. Oh!!Hahahahaha!
    I was thinking , "I wonder if he tops the Wa for tantraums!" Not what I expected.
    Oh, that is something, and you are doing EXACTLY what I would do! I check and make sure they are not telling me something in the body. This may be in the mind though huh!

    Tamara of "The Barb Wire" just posted something about "balking" that was really good too. She has mares. maybe you should tell him he is resembling a mare a few times to get him over it!

    Sorry...I am so smiling, sometimes it is good to know that we can all share in the hhorse antics and we all do know it will pass...but yea, it is Frustrating!!

  2. Been there, done that, and it is NOT fun. And it was with my thoroughbred none-the-less. I got Ace six months ago, and though he's (now) 9, I've basically had to start him all over again. He was good with the bit, but didn't have a clue what legs meant. And if he was confused he'd balk or go backwards.

    We had some major balking issues for a while. I spent a lot of time getting him to yield his hindquarters and move off pressure that way. I also went back to ground work and lunging to establish a good "go" there. He was a pain there at first too, but I was able to get him moving forward and stay moving forward before long. Unfortunately, it didn't translate to under saddle like I hoped. I did what you did ... gradually increased the pressure until I got a lean, or even a step or two, and then quit. It was better than backwards or sideways. I realized at that point we were having a battle of wills. So, I got my step or two, and kept asking for a few more, and then a few more, and then he started walking freely. It was a battle for the first 5 or 6 steps and then he gave in. We've just done a ton of transition work since then and now he's nice and light. We even started canter work last week.

    All that to say .... I totally feel your pain. And it won't go away overnight. But it will eventually if you keep at it with some creativity and patience.

  3. They never throw what you expect do they ? ;)
    I used to ride a little racehorse called Nicky, she wuld do the same thing but was always willing to go backwards, so I used to turn her round and go backwards the way I wanted to go!! It took about a week for her to realise she wasn'r acheiveing anything but for the week I had several 10-20 min backwards hacks lol.
    My OH's horse (Comet) we backed 2 yrs ago and we have only just got him to a point where he is no longer being nappy (ie away from yard, coming halfway home then going another way etc) but jeeze he is SO thick skinned..I swear you could beat that horse with an electric cattle prod and it would make not the slightest bit of diffrence...so anything more than a normal swat on the arse wasn't worth it....lots of circles and backing up...**sigh** we Love 'em right? RIGHT!!??

  4. We alternate between "I'm not moving" to "I'm going THIS way." With us, it's a battle of wills.

  5. Oh my. That's something I hope I don't have to deal with. I know what you mean about preferring to deal with broken brakes than a broken gas pedal. Some people have said that Arabs are too much horse for me, but I love the fact that I never have to use my heels or consider spurs in order to get a good ride. Gabe is just learning though. I'm sure he'll get past this.

  6. Oh I loved this. Maybe get tacked up and mount with the intention of working on standing still for 1/2 hour. Perhaps he will decide he would rather move forward. I am still giggling picturing you and Gabe tonight.

  7. Mugwump talked about getting the gears going in one of her posts. Very similar to what you are doing, so probably persistence will pay off. In the early days, my mare would go "light in the front" if I pushed her -- usually wasn't when walking out but trying to do a task or obstacle. Not a full out rear, but enough that I didn't like it! I would circle her and reapproach. I got some criticism from some trainer friends for not working her through it direct. But I learned what works for her and me and it keeps her front feet on the ground.

    I think 'forward' is an issue with all the spring horses. I've been riding my husband's mare and my son's mare recently. They've seemed to forgotten work mode, too.

  8. Oh my!!! I can feel your pain and frustration, but have to thank you for the absolute best giggle fest I've had in a long, long time. Just picturing you and Gabe stuck is something that I wouldn't have expected hearing from you. If it's not something physical (which it probably is not), I'd bet on a battle of the wills...he's testing you like a spoiled child would. He's being sullen. Be patient and creative and this too, shall pass. Maybe he's bored with ringwork possibly?? Can you take him out and go for a little walk? I'm sorry to get so much amusement at your obvious frustration, but it is comforting to know that we all go through these little trials with our beloved ponies. Chin up my friend, he'll get bored with being a piss ant!! :)

  9. Kac...He is SUCH a brat. I do think it's a mind thing, not a body thing, but it won't hurt to have it all checked out.

    Jackie...I remember reading about the forward frustration you had with your guy and I immediately thought about you and Ace when he planted all fours and refused to move! I have lots of patience, thankfully, and I'm pretty sure I have more "tools" in my training toolkit than he has ideas in his head. At, least I hope I can be more clever than he!

    Kelly...that's for sure! I expected tons of forward and light on the whoa, not this at all! It's a darn good thing we love 'em or they'd be worthless.

    Leah...ROFL! They can be so much like our kids, can't they? Never a dull moment.

    NuzzMuzz...I've always ridden horse that were very light...flex a calf and off they go. I am fairly certain this current lack of forward issue is simply a lack of understanding and standing still is his way of dealing with the frustration of not understanding.

    Kathy...I may have to try that! Go out to ride with the intention of just standing...and if he moves forward out of boredom I can work with that. I'm glad my no-movement plight made you giggle! He is definitely a whole different horse than Star was...Remember how much FORWARD she had? Ha!

    Tammy...I do believe I remember reading Mugs' post about the horse who refused to go forward. I've found that her training philosophy and methods often mirror what I have done or would do in many cases. I really, really hate it when they go "light in the front," it's the one thing that does scare me. Bucking I can deal with, I can even handle getting run away with, but rearing, even threatening to rear, scares me because going over backwards is always a possibility, and the outcome of THAT is rarely good.

    C-ingspots...He is definitely throwing things at me that I never expected, that's for sure! I worked so hard on the ground to get the whoa well established...little did I know the whoa is good...it's the go that's broke. I guess there's a reason he was a complete and utter failure on the track...he ain't got no go! We'll figure it out, it's not like I'm on any kind of time crunch...we have all the time in the world to just stand there and enjoy the scenery. :P