Thursday, December 30, 2010

Give an Inch and He Will Take a Mile

Milo was being a stinker in the cross ties and was acting really mouthy, so I decided a longe session was in order. There were two girls in a lesson, but Shelly let me longe at C, with yeilding the rail still. She had a flipped caveletti on the ground for the girls to use. Milo started out slow, and all seemed like it might be uneventful. After letting him jog around for a bit, it was time to get the blood pumping and I asked for a bigger trot. He pinned his ears and tossed his head towards me. Strike one. Hmpf I thought. I asked him to step out more, as he would give me about four strides of a trot than try and go back to a jog. Same direspectful response. Fine, you get to work harder I insisted, and sent him over the caveletti. The more I demanded, the more resistent he got, until he was outrightedly kicking out, trying to stop and face me head on, and biting in the air. You little shit, I will not tolerate this. Making him lope, change direction, lope some more, go over the pole, change direction again, lope off, yeild his hindquarters, etc after about ten solid minutes finally made him drop his head and decide he better pay attention. As I slowed him down to a walk and allowed him to walk over the caveletti a few times, once, the drap of the longe line caught on the leg of the caveletti (upside down making the leg exposed). Before I could correct the problem, he was on the other side and was hitting the end of the lead. He spooked backwards, which subsequently, sent him into the other cavelettis, barrel, and poles tossed in the corner, which sent him into a larger spook. He sent himself right back out on the longe and trotted and snorted. Shelly was displeased because it caused one lesson horse to spook slightly, and upset the rider. A bit peaved, I thought to myself Well, she needs to learn how to stay on a spook anyways. Then Shelly directed me to move Milo off the caveletti. Excuse me? You are not my trainer, and I need to put him over it one more time to solidify some calm over it. But I didnt, knowing I was not searching for a fight, not to mention I had been "priviledged" to longe during her lesson.

Once Milo calmed down again, I led him to the mounting block and put the headstall on. As I walked him the perimeter of the arena, I mulled things over. First in my mind was the disrespect my horse had been showing me. This quote from Clinton Anderson in the latest edition of Horse & Rider kept coming into my head, "Your horse is constatly reading you in an effort to determine, "is he/she serious, or not?" He'll test you in small ways: push into your space, wait a heartbeat before responding to your request, attempt to "get and inch" here and there - then observe how you respond. If you dont correct him on these small cheats, he'll eventually pull a much larger one. At that point, you might feel he's acting out of the blue. But in reality, he's been telling you for some time, via those little cheats, that he's losing respect for you. Problem is, you havent been listening - or correcting him." Ive always known this rings true for Milo. Then it made me think of our last longe session before this one. He was reluctant to move out, and flipped his head a bit. For whatever lazy reason, I didnt fully address it. I just sorta said "Milo, stop" and that was about it. Its no wonder he would push for a little more and be a little less respective today, I didnt tell him otherwise the day before. Let me recap on one sentence from Clinton's quote; "[he will] wait a heartbeat before responding to your request" Now Ive known this for a while, but reading it again, and seeing it happen before my eyes was really making me think. Milo is reluctant to immedietly move off my leg in any direction, be it a forward transition, a leg yeild, anything. Theres always that tail swish, the attempt to throw his head up, hollowing out, resistent trot steps before the lope off. Now, occassionaly (as he did this night's ride) he might move off nicely from my leg into a forward transition, but even our leg yeilds are still not where they need to be. Or he equates a leg aid for speed.

Just this ride for instance, he seemed to throw out the counter arc we had seemed to solidify. He decided the leg meant speed. When I corrected, he than insisted that he couldnt hold his shoulder up and lift and bend, instead, he must hollow but drop the head making it seem as though he was round, and rather than drive underneath with the hind, he would rather just reach out with his shoulder. It was frustrating. But I cant necessarily blame Milo. Without addressing every level of resistence, hes learning that certain aids can be ignored (at least for a moment or two) if desired. He states his opinion with his wringing tail at any request. And its getting old.

I hope to address some of this with Sarah at our next lesson. But I already know what she will tell me - to simply address each resistence and eventually it will go away. I know this. And I know I should be enforcing it. It will help us in every aspect of our relationship. What am I waiting for?

Now, the ride really wasnt all that bad. There was a lot of resistence in the beginning, but I soon got some nice shoulder control, he did decide that the counter arc is in fact feasible, and we got some beautiful walk to trot transitions, and on the second try, some nice lope departures as well. I still have some things to address at the lope, and he is hollowing out at nearly every attempt. Im hoping Sarah can shed some light on this when she sees him again - although its probably a result of me again, it always is!

Now, an updated photo of the rub area taken on Tuesday:

The photo suggests that the area looks worse. In fact, when I saw it on Tuesday, it looked and felt better than before. The area seems less "irritated" per say, and in fact, the hair seems to be coming back. The photo looks red, or imflammed, but it isnt, it is actually just his skin. So Im pleased to see that the M-T-G seems to be helping. I did send the other photo off the vet, just in case, but havent heard back from him yet.

Oh Milo, standing in the cross ties with your cooler on is just soo boring, isnt it?

Oh wait, the rustle of the cookie bag in my tack box sparks interest, doesnt it? Speaking of cookies, Ive been using the Christmas cookies given to us by the BO for his "cookie" stretches. I always ask him to bring his head around to me off the line before letting him go in the pasture. But now I bring three cookies down with me, and have his stretch to both sides, and down between his front legs. Im hoping to keep him as supple and relaxed as possible through his head, neck, wither, and poll, as the poll and shoulder/wither area specifically is where he holds his tension (although I have seem some remarkable changes to these areas in the just the past month or two).


in2paints said...

I used to have a horse like that... you had to be on top of things ALL the time or he would very quickly take advantage of things. It got interesting when I showed him because he knew I couldn't do too much to him in the arena. Little brat that he was. LOL

I missed your post earlier about the rub spot on Milo... I would be curious if you changed detergent or started wearing lotion or something like that. It's very interesting that it's right where your leg rests. I'm glad to hear it's doing better, though!

Anonymous said...

Milo had respect issues when I first got him. As he got older into adolescence, he tried more but we got past that a while ago. I think whats sparking this now is the horse hes pastured with, Jake, his owner is here for the holidays and she said Milo bullies her in the pasture and said she doesnt do much about it. So I think its escalating to where he wants to boss Mom too. It will be interesting to see how tonights ride and longe session will go.

No different detergent, no lotion.