Some days I question whether or not The Pony is actually a member of the equine species. A lot of the time it seems like she’d rather model herself after a giraffe than the handsome HUS horses she’s supposed to be emulating. She sticks her nose up into the air like she’s sniffing for a scent to follow (or reaching up to collect the leave off of the tallest branches of a tree, like her giraffa camelopardalis cousins) and then catapults forward, rider be damned—especially if there are jumps involved in our exercise of the day.
Now that I’m at the point where I’m feeling more confident in the saddle and over cross rails (a few months of consistently riding the same horse will do that to you), I decided it was finally time to put the crack down on some of The Pony’s notoriously naughty behavior… on a Thursday, the day after some strenuous gymnastic work that left me peeling off sweat-soaked breeches and collapsing into a hot bath when I finally made it home for the night.
I was hoping The Pony would come out of her stall in an already obedient, slightly exhausted state… no luck.
We ended up in a rather monumental fight over what a good frame really looked like (at the canter, of course) and I got an incredibly nasty buck-charge-stop-rear-huff combo (that ended with some spurring, a little dressage whip, and finally a nice, professional looking canter—you have to love a pony that forgives and forgets). The good news is that my instructor said that after that buck, she was 100% sure I was ready for a bump to my jump height. The bad news is that now that I’ve laid down the law and set some standards, I actually have to follow through with keeping her in frame on the flat. 😀
We had our first ride of the week without my instructor yesterday (though she was working in the same arena for a while—I always feel safer at a big barn where I know at least one person who knows their stuff is always around), so I had a chance to put some of my new strategies into practice. It wasn’t spectacular (we need to do a lot of lateral work to loosen up Belle’s shoulders so that we can catch more of our leads over fences), but she’s pretty consistent at the walk and the trot and she didn’t put up such a big fuss at the canter. I probably wasn’t as bold without my instructor, but I think we made a little progress…
At least Belle didn’t buck and I didn’t have to eat a serving of our spectacularly cushy dirt.