Friday, May 7, 2010

Resolving Rearing Online

This morning, my L3/4 friend came out on short notice to give me an online lesson in an effort to address whatever is going on in Guinness' head and to bolster my confidence!

The first thing that we did was to analyze saddle fit - since his rearing started when I was riding in the Wintec 2000 with a thin pad, and heading downhill. She didn't like the appearance of the Wintec on Guinness' back (gullet too narrow, even with the wide interchangeable gullet inserted).

Instead, we addressed shimming with the Theraflex and used it under my Abetta endurance saddle (QH tree). We played around with the shims and determined that two fat shims would likely work. (The one furthest back goes in first, layering toward the front, "toe" forward; valves open to saddle up, then close to mount.)

We went out into the roundpen to warm up. I was feeling frazzled this morning and was extra fumbly.. The we played with driving game from Zone 3 with preparation for riding in mind.

Driving Game, Zone 3 tips:
  • I should stay just behind the girth
  • he should take the first step and then I follow
  • stick on my shoulder, rope over other arm
  • to stop - phase 1: I stop, phase 2: put stick horizontally out in front of him as cue to stop (or slow), phase 3: tap rope, phase 4: pull rope
  • to go - phase 1: energy up, lift rope, phase 2: lift stick over his rump, phase 3: tap the air, phase 4: tap the hair
  • be sure to do on from both sides
He was fairly pissy with tacking up, and during the Driving Game, and it carried over into me mounting and riding. My friend pointed out that I'd tolerated too much of this on the ground and I need to address it there first. He is very interested in coming up in the "herd" when at home. Funny how I don't see much of this when we are away at the indoor arena!

After our lesson, she wanted to check out how the saddle fit while mounted, and I went ahead and tried a few things riding in the roundpen. Sure enough, he offered to rear in the same slightly downhill spot. By experimenting, I figured out that if I shifted my weight even further back, he wouldn't follow through with the rear. Also, he would move off a bit better if I directed him a little off to the side, rather than straight forward.

However, he was still balky and would periodically reach around to BITE at me. This started yesterday. This time, when he did it, I held his head around and grabbed his lip and said "no" firmly. Sounds silly, but he seemed to get the point. Anyway, it is clear that he feels pretty annoyed at having to carry me around at home..

We left the roundpen and I rode him a little corner to corner in the back field with a cookie at the corners. There was much less resistance. Was this due to the cookie motivation, or to us having more of a purpose (and therefore less evil thinking on his part)?

It is definitely time for me to push his LB buttons more while in a familiar environment and for me to expect him to be more respectful of me and my space. He is acting like my teenaged (almost) son!! I plan to do much more Zone 3 driving over the next week.

PS: In a later conversation with my friend, we explored the connection between his rearing while in the stall, rearing (and climbing onto the other horses) as a means of dominance in the field, and his new tactic of rearing under saddle. Very interesting! Certainly something to run by Carol Coppinger..

Also, she suggested that I practice bringing my life up by whacking a barrel, and then bringing it back down to Friendly.

I'm going to try to get her to come out again early next week. It is wonderful to have her as a resource!!


Naturally Gaited said...

The thing that allows me to be somewhat comfortable about it is that it is a VERY LB, slow rear. Very much about expressing his opinion (or making a threat?)! I feel that is it like playing chess - now I need to come up with an effective counter measure and be prepared to use it! I want his respect for me to increase. If I lose, it won't..


Naturally Gaited said...

Oh, when he pulls this on the other horses (rearing and then climbing on them), they always wind up giving way. He is very persistent and thick-skinned.

If anyone has any ideas for counter measures, please post them!