I'm just gonna say it like it is: Gabriel is a BRAT! A great big, silly brat who seems to have forgotten his manners.
Could be the beautiful spring weather and drying ground have something to do with his brattiness. Could be the inconsistent work he's been getting lately contributing to the lack of manners. Could be the rich alfalfa hay he's been eating for the past month is adding to the overall energy level of a 6-year-old SNOT. It's the end of the season, I get what I can get until the first cutting comes in. I don't LIKE feeding them 100% alfalfa, but it's dang good hay...and it's better than a load of weed-infested crap hay I got in January.
Could be anything.
I have seen him give little half-hearted humped-up bucks on the longe line. He pops up a little bit, chucks that head around and squeals. Typically I don't get after him for it as long as he gets it out of his system and settles back down and listens to me.
But Tuesday? Holy mackerel. That horse. OOOOOhhhh, that bratty, bratty, super-energized horse truly showed me his athletic ability. He's been keeping little secrets.
That boy can FLY. Straight up, all fours off the ground with those hind legs well above his head. Bucking bronco anyone? Buck after buck after buck...I swear he cracked his back more than once after he bucked around on the end of the line. It wasn't discomfort or frustration or anger, it was pure energy expressing itself in a most young horse-like way. As soon as I had his brain on the longe line (gait changes, spirals in and out, trot cavalletti, direction changes, etc.) I climbed aboard and hoped for the best.
You'd think he'd be more settled into work mode after the shenanigans on the longe line. You'd think the sweat and the blowing would have knocked some of the edge off.
Nope. We had a few bucks and more than a couple of spooks at absolutely nothing.
But I kept him moving forward, forward, forward and WORKED him. We had a few fleeting moments of brilliance. Those moments we work so hard towards seem to be coming more often, despite the moments of massive fail. We also had quite a few "oh shit! No you didn't!" moments. But I rode the 'oh shit!' moments and used them to my advantage. I'm pretty sure I called him a shithead more than once.
You want to spook sideways at that dandelion? Hmm...okay...spook right into this lateral movement! Ha! Take that, you booger. Work it! Bucking? Really? Okay. Canter on a circle and give me a little bend. There ya go! Chuck that head around like a danged fool? Fine. You can't trot cavalletti while flinging and gazing at the stars. Lets see how many times you trip over your feet and stumble over the poles before you stop with the head crap. Good boy! There ya go, round UP! Chew the bit softly! NICE!
We ended the ride very nicely with him trotting strong, forward and rounded up to me. His cool-out walk was long, powerful and relaxed.
He heaved a sigh, licked his lips and pricked those ears forward. It was good. We talked. He talked back a few times, but in the end, he listened and I listened and something between us clicked.
We're not perfect. In fact, sometimes we are absolutely HORRIBLE. But as long as he learns something positive by the time we are done I consider it a successful ride. Bucks, spooks and general naughtiness included. Because each one of those naughty behaviors can be transformed and used in the overall training process.
Because at some point, he'll figure out it's just easier to not act like a bobble-headed yearling full of spring oats. I hope!