We got a dusting of snow last night! Weird! It's not supposed to snow in November lol. I can't wait for the temperature to get back into the fifties midweek. Today it didn't even make it to forty. I think the highest it got was 36. Yuck! However I have vowed to not let weather (well minus rain) stop me from riding, so I went out and rode! It was not the best ride ever....
I only rode for about 28 minutes and we stayed in the yard... let me tell you the whole story in order starting with tacking up. As you can see in the picture below I decided to use my nice white dressage pad because the fleece one wrinkles under the saddle sometimes (the pad is more forward like a jumping or all purpose saddle). I've been trying not to use this pad because I won it at secret Santa years ago and it's a nice, pretty pad that would be great for showing. I finally decided it was stupid to have it sitting around for years just because I wanted it to stay clean. It can be cleaned!! Chrome was a turd about me tightening the girth. He would NOT stand still and for some reason he was overreacting when I corrected him (I was not being mean, just telling him no and tugging on the rein to his noseband). I don't know if it's because something was uncomfortable or if it's because he was looking for the horses across the street (that's what he's looking at in the below picture)... I did run my hand under the saddle before I tightened it and it felt like it might pinch in the front? Actually it felt like a lot of pressure all the way down so I think it's too wide and sitting further down from his spine than it's supposed too... the thicker fleece pad must fill up that extra width because it doesn't bother him with that pad.... anyway, moving on. We can come back to this if we need to.
I also set up my bridle differently. I've wanted a halter/bridle for a long time so I could have a pair of reins to the halter and a pair of reins to the bit, that way I could ride off the halter, but have the bit as back up, then I realized I still had my rings on the noseband from when I was using his bridle as a sidepull, so I just snapped my other reins to that ring. Unfortunately when he broke my bridle he also broke the reins so they can't be buckled and they are too short to be using as split reins... I'll find my other reins if I decide to try this again.
I rode him around the driveways and the circle in the middle of them, weaving in and out of trees. He had a very forward walk and was feeling really energetic. He was listening great to the reins on his noseband. I wasn't even holding the reins to the bit. Then we did some trotting around the trees. It was so much fun because he was so forward! Then my dog started barking at the neighbor... I yelled at the dog and Chrome slammed on the brakes. I called Jackal and he slowly made his way to me. As soon as I went back to riding, the stupid dog went right back to the fence and was barking! Grr! After two more times of calling him away I got frustrated, dismounted, chased the dog down (and scared Chrome by waving my arms around... oops, he's not normally so reactive). Did I mention it was extremely windy today??
So anyway Jackal and I both got in a bunch of burrs and the dog started freaking out because he thinks they are ticks. I took him to the house, pulled off as many burrs as I could and then put him inside... he will not be outside when I'm riding alone again...
So I got back on the horse and it went all downhill from there. He was being balky and resistant. When I cantered he went full on bronco (okay it was still crow hops, his legs weren't going out or up, but it was still huge bucks compared to what he normally does)... I think it's because I asked him to canter and he went eagerly, but when he got close to the car (where I tack up and untack) he tried to stop so I kept bumping him with me heels to keep him going. About two strides past my car is when he started bucking. Luckily I was able to stop him even with just the noseband reins. I trotted him all over the place and tried again. Same deal. HORSE!!!!! I wasn't scared, but he was starting to make me nervous because I didn't want it to become a habit, so I cantered again, but this time I said good boy before we reached my car... he took that to mean he could stop and slammed on the brakes. I was getting really frustrated at this point, but since he didn't buck I called it quits on cantering. So I started trotting him around again and he started major balking!!!!!!
I finally had enough, got a tree branch and popped the crap out of him. He shot forward like he was being launched from a cannon. His tempo sucked, but he did stay trotting. After he trotted for a while without trying to stop I asked him to walk, then I unsaddled him and got on bareback because I was worried maybe his back hurt from the thinner pad... he was still balking bareback a little, but once I got him going he dropped his head, lifted his back and relaxed a little.... so maybe it was partly the saddle???
The other thing is he was mugging me so bad!!!!!! He doesn't normally do that, but on my last ride we found some persimmon trees alongside the road and I stupidly fed him some, so now all he can think about is getting fed. Every time I said good boy or patted him on the neck he slammed on the brakes and started looking for treats................. so yeah he won't get treats from the saddle unless we decide to start clicker training again. The crazy thing is I haven't fed him any treats at all in months and months because I don't have any. I ran out. So yeah, feeding him persimmons one time is all it took to turn him into a turd. Ugh! So that's my fault. I shouldn't be feeding treats without using the clicker because then he expects them all the time. With the clicker I'm able to tell him yes you get a treat and the lack of a click means no treat.
So I finally dismounted, got the mail and led him back to my car.... where I tied his butt to the light pole! Then I sat in my car and watched him through the side mirror while I seethed and thought about everything that had happened...
He knew I was in the car.
He tried untying himself (rope is in his mouth).
He tried rubbing his halter off of his head
(doesn't work without rough tree bark hehe).
He paced around and stared at me.
He stared at me some more.
I cracked the door open and he was so far forward he didn't have enough rope and had to contort to look at me LOL.
He peeked at me out of the corner of his eye.
He stared at the horses across the road (he could see all the way up the driveway from where he was tied), then he eventually chilled out and relaxed. So I untied him and put him back in the pasture. He went straight to his hay bale and started eating.
So here is what I think. He was great before I dismounted to put the dog up, so I think when we walked to the car he thought we were done. When I got back on he got pissy. He kept doing what I asked, but he wasn't eager and forward like he was before. Then when I cantered him he started off eager, but tried to stop at the car and when I kicked him on he got frustrated and bucked. I yanked him up and he stuck his nose in the air and stopped. So the second time he was not as eager because he was expecting to get his face yanked off. At the same spot he started bucking again and got his face yanked off. The third time I told him good boy because I realized I was focusing too much on what he was doing wrong and not praising him. He took that to mean he could slam on the brakes by the car............ so he's basically being barn sour and because my tack is in the car that's his barn. Annoying. When I forced him to keep going (away from the car) he started balking. Also the donkey and goats were galloping around at this point so he wanted to go out to the pasture and balked when I tried to get him to leave. So I don't know. This whole thing has me super confused. His attitude once I tied him up makes me think he was just feeling good because it was cold and windy and then he thought we were done when I put the dog up. When I get done riding him I always either let him graze in the yard or I put him in the pasture and feed him....
So my game plan is, STOP feeding him right after a ride and STOP letting him graze after a ride. I'm going to start tying him up after riding so that he can think things over. The barn sourness has gotten progressively worse the longer I've ignored this. He used to be more excited about leaving than he did about coming home. I want that horse back! I know he has fun when we are out, but then he starts thinking about grazing or getting fed and he just turns into a butt. So along with tying him up I'm going to start practicing riding him, getting off, riding more, tying him up, riding more, etc. When I get home from riding out on the road I'll ride him some more at the house so he doesn't think that as soon as we get home he's done.
While I was riding I was thinking maybe his back hurts, maybe it's the new saddle pad, maybe it's the two reins, maybe his feet hurt, maybe it's the bit, etc., but after thinking about it I think it's the sour attitude. He was perfect before I got off to put the dog up. So for now I'm going to work on that, but I'll still pay close attention to everything else. I palpated his back as soon as I took the saddle off, before I got on bareback and didn't get a reaction at all. Next ride I'm going to use my normal pad and only the one reins and see how that goes. There were too many variables in this ride (reins, pad, wind, dog, etc.) to determine the exact cause easily.
Anyway sorry for rambling. I'm going to try to stay positive about this. I'm irritated for getting so frustrated with him, but I don't want to let him get away with murder either. So I'm setting some boundaries and I'm going to stop being lazy and we will see how it goes from there. If you read all of this, I'm amazed and thank you. :D