Thursday, June 25, 2009

Still Working this Rocky Road

By "rocky," of course I do not mean solidified masses of minerals, I mean emotional turmoil and challenge.

This whole right lead cantering thing has given both Louie and me a bit of strife. Some days he gets it, some days he doesn't, some days he gets it after much frustration, some days it leads to a fight. It has maybe gotten slightly better since his chiro adjustment a couple weeks ago, but the issue still exists and I don't know how to interperet it- as a physical problem or as a mental hoop Louie is making me jump through. While he has seemed a little tight/short on his left hind on and off when warming up for about the past 2 months, this very slight lameness disappears after warming up, and is not there under saddle. Additionally there are absolutely NO physical signs of what might be causing it- malingering has entered my mind lol. There was never an obvious injury, though Louie does play REALLY hard with his buddies in the pasture, and could have possibly done something to hurt himself on the stake out at the field trail. So, if he has pain in his left hind, of course that would make taking the right lead difficult, but what could it be? But that wouldn't explain why he has had a hard time with his right lead for 6 months. . . Anyhow, I gave him a gram of bute to see if that improves it at all tomorrow, though I doubt it will have any effect.

And of course I also don't really know how to approach this problem- he is a young horse, but with all of the abilities he has showed me, he is plenty ready to be cantering on both leads. I don't want to push him too hard so that he becomes spiteful or unhappy, yet it is hard to know whether or not he is just pushing my buttons and hoping for a "chok up another win for horsie" type scenario.

Yesterday I lunged him prior to riding and he, being a very smart horse, anticipated the canter from the moment I first asked for it. (I HATE anticipation, but it's hard to avoid when we're actively working on something like this). It was about all I could do to get him to trot on the lunge after that first canter. And to make things more difficult, all he wanted to do was canter on his left lead. He gets his head turned in so hard to the inside that it throws his hindquarter out and he picks up his left lead without even questioning it. This is why I have been working him in the bitting rig for picking up the right lead- it keeps him somewhat restrained so he can't throw his hips out quite as easily, and he picks up his right lead fairly easily in it. So after getting into a little scuttle on the lunge line over trotting vs cantering, we did a short ride. He did okay while riding, but has adopted Q-man's motto of "Go mo' faster." He is trotting fast, cantering fast, and I have to work rather hard to keep him at my pace. He had a hard time getting the right lead yesterday under saddle and thus the struggle continues. We ended on a good note with lots of praise after finally getting the lead.

Today- I used my brains and lunged him in the bitting rig to warm up. He took his right lead perfectly the first time I asked for it, so we quit and went in to get saddled. Today, while he got his right lead more than yesterday, he went back to his "let's kick at the Leah's leg because I don't like it on my side" routine- once while I cued him, and once after he already got into the right lead well, but I had to put an inside leg on him as he was drifting toward the middle of the ring. For that, he got himself a little talking to- from my kicking legs and a couple smacks on the butt- that is NOT cool, and he hadn't tried that for many many months. He learned his lesson and the next time I asked him, he took his right lead, stayed on the rail, no funny business. So we stopped there for the day.

I don't know if this is normal for young horses to try things and protest with these hurdles or if there is something wrong here, but I HATE getting into fights- I need to not take it so personally, but it is really hard. I've come to this issue with cantering on the right lead a few times over the past 6 months, and I usually give up, work on something else for a while, and re-visit it later. I must admit, we have made a drastic improvement lunging in the bitting rig with this issue, but under saddle we still aren't getting it. Am I to continue with avoiding this issue or is it time to face it? Perhaps I should continue to work on it through different avenues that aren't so confrontational- bitting rig, long lines, etc, and save the saddle work until he is cantering consistently in these other exercises. . .

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