Friday, May 25, 2012

Check that Off the List

Cayenne flipped over on me yesterday. Totally unexpected.

She has had an issue with flipping her head when pressure is applied to her nose to ask her to slow down. About 80% of the time she would slow down, the other 20 she would flip her head around - kind of her way of being a sass about it, but then it was turning into a sort of obsession. Her owner read online from Julie Goodnight a method to try and get that behavior to stop. It was (and this is my interpretation of her interpretation, I did not read the article) to apply pressure or create a "block" for Cayenne to run into when she started tossing her head around. I tired this a few times and while it was getting her to stop her head tossing, she was obviously getting agitated - she really does not like a lot of pressure on her face. There were a couple times when she sank her butt into the dirt (like dropped it) when she hit the pressure of the halter. I wasnt so sure I was liking this method, but it seemed to be reducing the head tossing.

Her owner went inside with her daughter for a moment and thats when it happened. We were trotting the perimeter of the arena a couple times, each time she sped up I would ask her to slow back down, give her back her head and continue. If she sped up, we slowed back down. She was going around nicely. Then we got to a point where she wanted to toss her head. So I held the reins firm and let her run into it. She sank her butt down again and cranked her head to the left (I really dont know why I guess she thought she should try and give to pressure to one side...?) Now we were directly facing the fence and I was trying to bring her nose back around to straight and straighten back onto the rail.

When I applied pressure to the right, she started backing up. I brought my hand really far forward to the side to try and get her to understand to bring her head back to straight. She backed faster and more frantically. Then, I think, she stumbled on the back end and tried to correct herself with the front, but her nose was still the wrong way and she upended herself. It was one of those slow motion movements.

I felt her butt hit the ground and knew gravity would pull her front end down as well (although I was anticipating to the side, not over top of me). I kicked my foot out of the outside stirrup so I could hop away from the mess. But we landed first on my inside foot so my leg was pinned underneath her weight. I couldnt jump away from her falling body, and the saddle horn smashed down into my right side - just at the stomach and hip crease. Her front end finally came down and she hit her neck onto the ground, at the same time, the back of my head thumped the ground as well. She scrambled for a moment and got up, fortunately the foot we landed on did not stay in the stirrup.

I saw the reins had come up over her head and I panicked for a moment thinking she might take off and hurt herself. She didnt; once she got up she stood there and looked at me. I sat up, and breathed for a moment. My God, I looked over at her owner's house, hoping she would be right there and might have seen the whole thing. She wasnt. She didnt know what happened. I stood up, my foot was hurting and the spot where the horn hit, but I pulled myself into the saddle and began circling her to the right, making darned sure that when pressure was put on that side, she was to follow it. She obliged, but as soon as I asked her to trot off again, she stamped her foot and pinned her ears.

Oh no, Missy you are not getting away with acting like that. You did not just win some battle. I made her trot off and she immediately started to toss her head, I let her hit the end again and she sank her butt down and acted like she would flip over. I released her not wanting that to happen again. Crap, did she just learn how to get out of something? This mare really is too smart. I didnt want to trot her again until her owner was out. So I continued walking her and making her change directions, slow down, stop, repeat.

Finally her owner came out and remarked that Cayenne looked like she was being a pill. Oh yeah, I explained what happened and she couldnt believe it. Now with her owner there, I trotted her off again, it took a little while but I was able to get her back to the soft trot we had, when I applied pressure she slowed down, repeat. At least I found a good place to end. But we decided finally that she needs to be moved into the snaffle. I think a lot of the problem is coming from the halter and it's sloppy movement on her nose and the confusion she is getting from it. I had been wanting to move her to the snaffle for a couple weeks now but wasnt really getting that vibe from her owner. Fortunately before I got on yesterday, I had put the snaffle in her mouth and worked her on the ground with it to start getting her used to carrying it. Today I am scheduled to go out again, you can be the snaffle will be in.


Story said...

Omg I hope you're ok. That's one scary accident.

Sand. said...

Oh my! Hope you're doing okay and no permanent damage! And REALLY hope you had a helmet on!...and maybe one of those eventing vests...and hockey pads... : O

in2paints said...

Yikes! I'm glad you're both okay! I think the training method sounds like a good one, but I'm willing to bet it would work better with a snaffle too.