Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walk on the Wild Side

'The Wild Card'
from Dessa Hockley's book,
"Is Your Horse a Rock Star?"

It's probably been 6-8 months or longer since I used my round pen. Whenever Mr. Fry mows, he tills it for me, after which more rocks come to the surface, as they also do every time we get any significant rain. Where do they come from? I had to walk around for several minutes, chunking the bigger ones over the rails, and there were still a bunch, not to mention huge divots from where I dislodged them. Poco was not happy about the footing. The shaded side was still damp, and every lap we took found more rocks dislodged.

We rode for maybe 20 minutes before he tripped over a huge rock, enough that I was grateful not to be launched over his head. The ride wasn't stellar, by any means. Poco doesn't like the round pen at all. The free-longeing part went well, though. I'm getting better at communicating with my body language. That will come in handy when I start Daltrey.

When we got outside the gate, all bets were off. Poco was immediately jumpy and nervous, which I think is mostly an act, since this is his old familiar pasture. He just didn't want to. I rode him around for a minute or so, then got off and walked him back across the culvert to dismount. He's a mess.

I took him to Iron Ridge this week for pony play day, and there's no other way to put it: he was a total shit. Part of it was because this was the first time I took him away from Jaz and the baby since they've been home. Mike said one or both of the remaining Boyz carried on the whole time we were gone. I would have liked to know exactly whom and for how long, but that's not important to Mr. Fry.

I ran Poco around the arena before I tacked him up. Although mostly cooperative, he was just barely with me. He was so squirrelly, everybody else was really having to look out for us. When they left the arena, I tried to ride him out. He grabbed the bit at the gate and actually lifted his fronts off the ground. I rode him to the far end of the arena, got off, and backed him the entire length to the gate. I took him out, tacked him down, brought him back to the arena, and ran him some more. I only pushed the gate to, and he pushed it open and took off. Caught him, brought him back, and ran him some more. Basically until he was pleading to stop.

He was a contrite suck-up when I hosed him down. We had a brief discussion about doing it the easy way (my way) or the hard way. Then I made him stand there tied while I yakked with the pony pals. Oh, the indignity of it all. He was more than happy to get in the trailer. There was much calling and carrying on when we arrived back at Casa Fry.

I think I know why he is — call the anthropomorphism police — frustrated. He wants to GO. FAST. I am still not ready to just let him go, and especially when he's like THAT. We've got to be in "the zone" together before I can even think about letting him go. We were definitely not anywhere remotely close to that place and haven't been for several rides now. But we'll work through it like we always have before.

As much as I might like to take Jaz for a play day sometime soon, Poco has sealed his own fate until he gets back with the program. Heather asked how long it had been since we had seen Psycho Gelding, and it's been awhile. It would be unrealistic to think my Appy had changed his spots.


Anonymous said...

That herd-boundness thing - particularly when there are new or returned herd members - can really override everything else. Unpleasant to experience at the very least! Perhaps next time you take him you could just get there and tie him up for an hour or two (if he ties well) for him to chill out, and then get on if things are going well. If not, then do the same thing next time until that's easy for him. Could take a while.

Jeni said...

I'm with Kate... He needs to chill before you get on. Even if all he does is stand around it's still a lesson on patience.

He's a little bugger - sounds like Rosie when she decided to take my daughter for a ride... right out the gate!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Is that an Appy thing? It sounds like you described my Scout on some of his past rides earlier this summer. Once I spent days, okay, many minutes, waiting for him to settle down enough that I could remount him when I got off because he was acting so squirrely. He was wheeling around me until I was actually dizzy. He continuously neighed back to his barnmates (and they didn't help matters because they were calling to him) and paid me no attention. I worked him at a working trot (is that why they call it that?) in circles and figure eights (although they were so off round from him wheeling and overflexing!) in a far field, until I felt him settle down and focus on me. I knew if I cantered he'd explode completely and then I'd probably be on the ground.
Then I rode him back to the barn and out again until he got the idea that the ride isn't over until I say so.
My most recent ride on him was such a pleasure I thought I was on a different horse!

Unknown said...

Herd bound is the hardest thing, IMHO. Both because it's scary and because it takes forEVER to fix.

Keep at it! He'll shape up. Everyone here has great advice, mine is just to keep at it!

Sherry Sikstrom said...

I don't know if it tis truly an Appy thing,I have some that are super hung up on the group, and others that like Johnnie are so eager to go out they could care less about the herd. Keep up the good work with Poco, one thing that is true of appy's is they are a real thinking horse and you need to be super consistent and be thinking a hair faster than them. Sounds like you know him well and will do fine

Leah Fry said...

Wants what he wants, that one does. Bugger is a kind word for him! I appreciate the suggestions. I won't have time to ride at all this weekend, so I'll have to wait until the following weekend to implement your ideas.

It would be interesting to see what happens if someone else comes here and rides Jaz. Usually, Poco is fine. Now that the baby is here, there's no telling.

morningbrayfarm said...

I wonder the same thing in our corral... where do the rocks come from? :D I find myself hesitating to take Bernard out on walks once in a while because of how much Ellsworth freaks out... Gads.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Val's gelding and filly are very herdbound, too. They will scream and cry as loud as they can non-stop if she takes either of her other mares out for a ride. Last night it was sometime after 9pm and I was worried something was wrong,or one of the horses had escaped, because I kept hearing the horses was just Val's gelding and filly upset because she was out enjoying a night ride. lol!

I don't blame you for not wanting to ride out the silliness while letting your horse get out some energy. That's one of the reasons I never cantered Baby Doll and rarely trotted her either. She was already unpredictable at the walk and could spook or act up big time. Let her trot or canter and that would just multiply.
I also think she acted so out of control when going faster just to scare me. She knew I'd not make her work as hard.

But then I watched Baby Doll's new owner ride her just before he bought her. And when she pinned her ears, bucked, or swung her head up high, or tried to go faster.....he made her go faster...and hard, too! He controlled her totally and made her believe that whatever she tried to freak anyone out, was actually his idea, so her plans were always ruined.
She finally gave in and just let him be in control.

What a huge realization to see that. I knew then that I was the wrong person for her. I didn't pass her tests and she never felt she could let go and let me be in control.


Leah Fry said...

Excellent observations, Lisa. I'm not good enough to ride him fast and hard like that. Pretty much my only option is to redirect him and take the win however I can get it.

I can't ride this weekend, but I'm hoping Kris will come and ride (Jaz) with me here the following weekend. I'm hoping Poco will do better with Jaz with him, so we have a positive experience. In this case, how he reacts to being away from Daltrey is the the question. Baby D adds a whole other dimension to our herd boundness thing.

Desert Rose said...

So sorry Poco was a SHIT! I am soooo lucky that my kids very rarely act out...I got lucky with them!

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