Revisiting the Jump Field
|Look! Over there! It's my pony's work ethic!|
There is just something he dislikes about being worked in that area, and it tends to bring out the worst, most nappy, balky, rude behavior in him. While we had made some progress in his behavior in the jump field last year, I'd avoided it as soon as it got muddy in the end of the fall and hadn't ridden there since early December.
I rode there for the first time since then on Wednesday. And it went pretty well.
We joined Windows and his rider for an impromptu dressage ride, since our plans to haul out to the horse park to jump had been dashed by my truck needing to go in for inspection, and the ground has been much too hard to jump on at home.
I got on armed with Mr. Whippy and a determination to expect Dino's best behavior, and not tolerate anything less than his utmost respect for me.
|In this photo we see Dino plotting new ways to get out of work...|
Slowly, I sorted him out and just kept insisting that he go straight, bend around my leg, and go forward into the bridle. The trot work got better.
When I asked for the canter, The Pony'tudinous One came out. I got the whole shebang - ears back, tail swish, angry face, stampy feet and threats of bucking.
I wussed out once again on whacking Dino a good one behind my leg. I'm not sure what I'm so afraid of - it's not like one of his bucks has ever gotten me off! But instead I reorganized his ugly trot, got him back in a better balance, gave him a solid tap on the shoulder, and asked again.
That time, Dino picked up the canter as requested. Huzzah! It wasn't pretty - in fact it was inverted and gross and I had to hand gallop him around with my hands on his ears to establish the idea of FORWARD - but it was a canter. We did it again in the other direction, again with the ugly hand-galloping and some small bucks when I insisted with my spur that he move sideways, but we were over the hump without too many theatrics!
I spent the rest of the ride doing lots of transitions and shallow leg yields, really schooling Dino's forward response. After we got over his 'tude in the first canter, I was able to get some great work out of him! Dino stayed nicely on the bit, even in canter, and by the end of the ride I was able to school some very nice lengthenings in trot AND canter! He felt pretty darn good, and I was really happy that our return to the jump field happened with minimal drama.
With each ride in which I demand his respect, I feel like I'm closer to having a pony that will listen to me reliably wherever we are, whatever we're doing. It's a really good feeling.