There comes a time when you have to decide: is he being naughty, or is he still just green?

And then you have to face it: he’s being naughty.

With naughtiness comes circles, I’m afraid. And serpentines. And halts. And all sorts of boring dressage-y things.

Sigh. I had such a pretty new gymnastic set up, too.

The five-year-old attention span (lack thereof) was in full force today. I think I rode exactly two hours after morning feeding and isn’t that when the sugar high kicks in? Can’t remember. We would be trotting around just lovely, stretching into the bit, arch the neck, round the back, bend around the corner, and then it would be like Doug the dog in “Up!”: “I’m so good, I’m so good, I’m so – SQUIRREL!” Head up, ears pricked on unseen ghosts off on the horizon, balance shot.

It was most annoying.

Granted he originally warmed up out of it beautifully. When I took him out he was simply looking for trouble. After just a few minutes of trotting around, though, he relaxed. And the canter warm-up was perfect – I let him put his head down and we just went round and round and round at a lovely rolling gate.

But for some reason he didn’t want to come back to me after the warm-up. And so it was back to ups and downs, circle here circle there circle circle everywhere. And my favorite: Drunken Walk, in which you walk a “straight line” adjusting your horse to curve first right, then left… Such amusement… for me.

By the end of an hour we were back to smoother gaits, the ears curved back towards me, listening and waiting.

Which, honestly, I found a little sad. I like the silliness. Am I just being difficult and contrary? I like dressage – I really do – but if the horse isn’t feeling it, the question is – do you push through and insist on work? (That only works for a certain amount of time, of course. At some point you lose the power to insist.)

Today he felt buzzy and high and just wanted to put his head down and gallop. And I had to be mean mom and say, “No, we’re going to work.”

Do you ever feel like that? In “Dominating Thoroughbreds” I wrote about recognizing a horse who is having a good time, rather than a horse who is being bad. The problem is, at some point, the kid in the horse says “I don’t want to ever work. I want to have fun.”

And you know what, kid? So do I.



Filed under Dressage, Final Call, Training Diary, Training Theory

7 responses to “Naughty/Fun

  1. Ugh, I know the feeling…and you know, as long as it’s safe and my horse is still listening to me, why not have a good hand gallop around the arena? I’m getting there with Miles, my OTTB…luckily, with the heat we’ve been having, he is more than happy to trot gamely around, no energy outlet needed:) Love your blog~!

  2. Big V was actually thinking yesterday on our way out to the Way Back, although I couldn’t help but noticing that his walk was more and more purposeful, and he’s a quick walker anyway. We got to the far back field, where I let him gallop up the hills, and he was like a coiled spring, so what else could I do but slide my leg back and let him gallop, probably for about 3/4 of a mile. We both had a heck of a good time!! Too hot to argue, plus he told me he was in training for the Belmont!

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      Ooh what joy, what rapture what FUN. I love when they get into stride and ask to put their head down, and you shrug and say okay, go for it, and just feel that coiled spring turn into a rolling, ground-eating gallop.

      Belmont/Haskell/BC Classic route for the Champion this year? Classic is on home turf, he should be happy!

      • Well, since he’s won the Ky. Derby three times, (I mistakenly had thought it was only two times-bad me!)- he’s thinking several BC races this year!

        The old Emergency Whoa came in handy, too! He’s a fun horse!!

      • Natalie Keller Reinert

        Put him in the Marathon, that will teach him a thing or two!

  3. It’s a very fine line, for sure. They can wind up worse, the harder you work ’em, but you don’t want to over-do the work, might hurt his baby back, but no babying allowed, but dammit this is your job, but, but, but.

    Maybe go for a hack.

    Taddy had a wee meltdown one day… He piaffed, passaged, pirouetted.. on his own…
    I tried the work it out thing. I hacked him alone to another sand ring. He became Soooper Taddy… I think he was a tiny bit back/haunches sore, and it was a break-through moment for both of us. Ahhhh, this is how you want me?? Well, here I AM!!
    I quit, and got off, after a single second of good. He was freaking amazing the next day.
    Thanks for the smile.

    • Natalie Keller Reinert

      HAH “Well here I AM!!” Such attitude from our little sweetiepie poopsies…..

      But that is exactly what it feels like. It’s not, I don’t know, malicious. It’s not – BAAAAA I WANT TO THROW YOU AND STOMP YOU!!!!!!! But it’s definitely – “You want me to be athletic and carry myself? Lady you have no g.d. clue how athletic I really am!”

      We hacked. And again today, a long trot, a long canter, no work. I’m tired, I’m stressed, it’s just going to feed into his body and make him tired and stressed. Tomorrow morning we’ll go out and I have a feeling he’ll feel like a million bucks and want to jump some fences. We’ll see.

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