Today I had the most diverse set of rides. Lady was bad. Very bad (for her). She decided that she was going to spook at pretty much everything, and when she wasn't doing that, she was trying every evasion she could think of to get out of work. I ended up working her on the lunge more then I rose her, just to get her to move forward.
First it was the truck that drove past. Then it was the boarder's filly playing. Basically, I think she's a bit achy from building muscles, and decided that evading sounded like a better idea then working. She tried to duck behind the vertical, she tries to trot instead of walk, and walk instead of canter (on the lunge). Now, I ended up working her harder then I wanted to, but it really wasn't my idea. I asked for a canter, and she would gallop around me as fast as possible. When I asked her to slow back to a trot or a walk, she ignored me, and kept right on galloping. By the end of the lesson, she's figured out that doing what I ask really is easier, and that I can out evade her. She was willing and working nicely by the end.
And I had to walk her out for about 15 minutes to allow her to cool off, then followed with hosing her lathered and sweaty body off. Thank goodness it was a nice warm day, so she didn't get chilled. And to think, all I had planned on was nice stretchy work!
Huck, well he was just about dead on today. I mean, his transitions are still a tad sloppier then I like, but all in all, not a thing to complain about. He went when I asked, he stopped when I asked, and he stood when I asked. He didn't give me more then I asked for, but I sure am not about to complain about that!
And then Rooster. Well, a few things came up, and I climbed on Rooster just as the sun was trying to go down. With a riding lesson in the arena, we took the round pen, and got to work. First off, my saddle slipped (SOMEone forgot to tighten up the girth before she got on.... no idea who that would be) and my favourite red head just turned to look at me like, "Hahaha, silly human!". No fuss, no fidget.
Ok, so I got that all fixed up, and climbed on. Stirrups were WAY too short. Gah. Off again. Changed the length, fussed, checked the girth, and as I was about to climb back on, it dawned on me. Rooster hadn't tensed up, hadn't taken a step, and seemed to be really happy about the whole thing. Like, he was completely willing to work, and glad to have a job!
So I climbed on. He moved out like I asked, he trotted, he went back to a walk. He went from a walk with one trot pace into a canter, and was just dead on. Now, he did veer out to the gate in his circles, but a seat or a leg aid put him where I wanted with no fuss.
And then my neighbor decided that it was time to work on his car. It's supposed to be a race car I think. I know that it doesn't have a muffler! He'd REV the engine, and then it would backfire. Then he'd do something else that made big scary noises.
Now, Rooster doesn't like to get scared. And once he's tense, he tends to blow up. Er, I should say he DID. Today, when that car made awful noises that even had my lesson horse acting a bit funny, good ol' Rooster just slowed down nicely, stopped, and turned to face the noise. He did all of this with only a moment of tension, but then stood nice and relaxed.
This is my "emergency brake" that I try to put into all horses. When scared, stop and calm down, and the human will fight off the bad things. In Rooster's case, it's "when scared, slow down and stop, and the cookie will enter your face". Yeah, he really loves those cheap treats.
I got him moving again, which he did nicely. We worked through a few revs, but then the back firing started. It was pretty darned loud, and even made me jump! Guess what Rooster did? Yeah... he slowed, turned, and waited calmly.
Holy..... well... you know. I think Rooster had a break through! Lets see how he does tomorrow. I'm not going to count my chickens, er I mean Roosters, before they hatch!
A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses
I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.