Monday, October 27, 2014

Ride 71 - Balky Boy!

I didn't get a single picture of today's ride!  Oops!  Hubby came along on his bicycle.  I went around the block again, but in the other direction.  Chrome was balky from the second I mounted.  I figured he was a little sore or maybe even a little sour since this being ridden frequently is a new thing for him.  He gawked at the horses across the street as they galloped to him from across the field, but he didn't try to trot.  When we rode by the horses they didn't follow us so he went right back to balking.  So annoying!!!!  Time to carry a crop!

He was balky for probably half the ride.  We had a bunch of guys on two four wheelers pass us, coming from behind and he was fine.  They slowed down because hubby rode his bike down the middle of the road.  Then after half a mile or so they were coming back, but they came down a hill and then turned back toward us.  Apparently them coming down a hill first or maybe coming from in front of us made them scarier, because Chrome's head shot into the sky and he froze.  He flinched when they went by, but he didn't spook.  Weird.

At the halfway point he could smell some horses he's never seen before (we stayed by the road instead of cutting across the middle of the field this time).  He started neighing and trotting (we were headed downhill so he was able to use the momentum of his fast walk to get into the trot before I could stop him).  I was able to wrestle him back into a walk.  He tried to break gait a few more times, but he eventually gave up since I had a death grip on him.  It's sooooo annoying that he did so amazing and now he's pulling every single green horse stunt he can think of.  Oh well, that's life with baby horses.

We rode by the horses and I got him back into a field (we spent probably half the ride in fields because I don't like him being on the pavement constantly).  I asked him to trot for the first time of the ride and he launched eagerly into a forward trot.  We trotted the length of the field and then I walked him to the water crossing where he balked last time.  He walked down the ruts, through the mud and by the water with no hesitation.  Then he turned around and walked back through!  Good boy!  Then I trotted him back to the road and he got so floaty it felt like he wanted to canter for a second.

I walked him for a while down the road (on the buckle) before I was able to get off in a field again.  I walked through the boggy part, but when we got to the field where the dozer was (video in a previous post) I trotted the full length of it which turned out to be a quarter of a mile.  :D  There was a second dozer too that was bigger than the first one and he glanced at it because it was different, but he wasn't worried.  Oh I forgot, in the boggy part we walked by a stump where he either tripped over a root or spooked because it felt like he went straight up in the air lol.  I have no idea what he was doing.  Silly horse.

Once back on the road I walked him the rest of the way home, then I bypassed our driveway and went around the corner to where the girl was feeding the horses across the street.  He started balking again when I went by the driveway.  We talked a minute and then turned and walked back home (big, happy walk again).  I got off at the driveway and hand walked him back to my car to untack (I keep my saddles in my car) and he was out walking me!!  I couldn't keep up, so he apparently isn't horribly sore.  His walk feels a lot faster when leading him (and I'm a fast walker) then when riding him for some reason.  I think he's just over the "new" of it and it's "work" now!  Spoiled, baby horse!  The total ride was 4 miles and took one hour and twenty minutes.  We're a lot slower when he's balking!

So does anyone have any advice for a balky horse riding out alone?  He was using any excuse he could think of to try to turn around, including when hubby would get too far ahead and turned to come back to us.  The bike coming toward us was apparently a signal for him to turn around too.  Ugh!  Do I just need to carry a crop and insist?  When we passed the driveway to go talk to the neighbor he flat out put on the brakes and would not move!  I had to kick him as hard as I could as far back on his flank as I could reach to get him to go...  what a turd!

Anyway please don't think I'm upset or complaining.  I'm just keeping records of his behavior so I can look back on this someday and see how far he's come.  I'm not angry at him or anything.  I know he's a spoiled, out of shape, green baby horse and he needs miles and experience.  I just don't want him to dread going out riding.  He used to love it so much.  Will that pass when he's stronger and not so tired and sore?  Walking a horse four miles isn't that far... even out of shape I can do that... I hope I'm not pushing him too hard.  Anyway I accept any advice or tips you guys care to share.  Thanks for reading this loooooong, boring, wordy post.  :D

P.S.  I'm still super proud of him for mostly keeping his cool around other horses and that I felt confident enough to ride it out instead of dismounting.  It's nice to not have to get off all the time anymore.  I'm also super proud of him for trotting the entire distance of the field calmly and for walking on the buckle whenever he couldn't see or smell horses.  I'm proud of him for walking through the ditch that we got stuck at last time.  So there are still a lot of positives about the ride!  Mostly our confidence.  I think he'll be better next time since we've gone both directions now and he knows they both lead home.  :)  This was also the third day in a row I've ridden him even though yesterday was bareback and only fifteen minutes.  He is definitely getting tomorrow off!!  I'll do the giveaway tomorrow too.  I got way too busy today to do it, sorry!  If you haven't entered yet there is a link in the previous post!

P.P.S.  Also so you don't feel sorry for him, I did a 5.75 mile bike ride in 35 minutes with a friend only a couple of hours before the ride.  So he's not the only one getting his butt worked!


  1. sounds like a mostly pretty fun ride!! sometimes balking is them asking 'are you REALLY sure we should do this?' as Chrome learns that you are a safe leader he can trust, the balkiness will go away. just be firm and reward good behavior. good luck!

  2. That's a really good point! He was hesitant starting out because we don't normally go that direction. Thanks! :)

    P.S. I did praise him when he started walking and that would keep him going for a bit, then he'd see something else and get balky. I guess that's a better way to be than spooky. I'll be more patient next time. Thank you!

  3. Sounds like a great ride to me. Don't forget you are a clicker trainer. You can click whenever you get a good, forward walk. He needs to know how important that is to you. Click for good halt/walk transitions, too.

    Teaching him to pass up the driveway is a great exercise. We do something similar when we pass up the trail leading to the barn. At first, the horses don't like to do it, but by clicking as soon as we make it past, their attitude changes. After a while, you can fade off the clicker.

    It has worked so well with Cole that I can trot past without a click--and he decided it is fun. Starry no longer needs a click. Dante is a little more determined to go home, so Ellen hasn't faded him off, yet. She hasn't done it with Dante as much as we have with Cole and Starry.

  4. You're right Judi. I actually thought about the clicker after I made the post. It never crossed my mind that I would need too because he enjoyed going out so much. I'll definitely have to do that. I taught him everything else that way so there is no reason to go back to doing it the hard way now. :-)

  5. Lol ahh balking. You read my latest post, you know I have the same issue. He sounds very much like he trusts you on the ground, he has to learn that he has to trust you when he tells you something under saddle now. It sounds like he is thinking he is on his own and not looking for your leadership on his back right now. I am going to ride with a crop to reinforce what I am asking for and I know it works on Mia. Clicker training may help for Chrome too, good luck. Ahh we love our green horses... :)

  6. Yes we love our green horses! Yes that is exactly the vibes I get off of him that he feels like he's all alone and has no one to rely on. He's getting much better though, especially if hubby is along on the bike. :) I'll try the clicker to teach him what it is I'm asking for, then wean him off of it and carry a crop for reinforcement if he ever decides to change his mind hehe. Our greenies are a lot of work, but they are so worth it. :D


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