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Riding a drama queen...

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  • #21
    I've had a couple of drama queens over the past few years, and they have been smart enough to preserve themselves so riding out the storm and always going forward has worked well.

    And my motto is: "When in doubt, go forward." If a horse is spooking, go forward, resisting, go forward, bolting, go forward, etc etc etc. My most recent drama queen would get tired or have a reason he wanted to stop (pasture buddies within sight) and then bolt upward, and leap through the air... repeatedly... it was quite entertaining!

    No matter how tired or bored a horse might be, they should not be allowed to engage in these antics. With my guys, running forward has worked, and when the antics begin, they realize that they are going to be pretty darned tired as a result.

    Have no way of knowing whether you need to back things up or slow down, or whether or not your horse is confused or in pain. Also not sure about your bits. But it sounds like you are not asking a great deal of her and it is entirely possible that she just doesn't want to do the work. I know with my most recent drama queen, I ruled out every thing and it seemed like the only time he threw his tirades were when he had some reasons to not want to work (like seeing his buddy trotting across the field etc.). He totally got over it once it was clear that antics ----> doing laps.

    You have great stickability! Want to come ride some youngsters for me?


    • #22
      Actually, I don't mind a little anticipating, only mind them acting on it.
      For example if my horse is anticipating a canter depart since that is what we have been working on for the past 10 minutes, I will ask for a halt in that same spot. Because my horse was "anticipating" a canter depart and mentally and physically getting set up for it, I will get a great, light halt.
      "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


      • #23
        Originally posted by RiverBendPol View Post
        Maybe the repeated exercises are repeating too many times? Remember, he's 5. Remember he has no muscle. Remember he's a TB. Remember whatever you're doing is new to him. He could be painful, he could be confused. I'd take a step back and ask myself how it feels to be him. It sounds like you're reading him well, you may just not be giving him quite enough benefit of the doubt...I'm guessing it is a phase but you can help him with it by requesting rather than telling him.

        You say it's only been 3 weeks since you upped the ante on his learning, he might be telling you he's learning as fast as he can. Some horses need their education one spoonful at a time, some you can open wide and cram a bunch at once and they eat it up.

        Not to be contrary with starhouse (nice job staying on, btw) but I would be very cautious using 'reverse psychology'. I believe you start by writing simple instructions in big fat crayon till they get it. What they learn first they learn most. When the simple becomes simple, add.

        Lots of opinions, lots of solutions. Hope some of it helps. Keep us posted!
        Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

        The Grove at Five Points


        • #24
          And just for comparison. I have a 4 year old. Last raced in August. Got 2 months in a field....with basically no food. Then I bought him...and spent some time treating him for ulcers and just getting to know him. He is still just at the very begining of learning about moving off my leg and acceptance of contact. Super smart too. I do not wear a spur---even though he too can blow through my leg aid--especially the right leg. He just doesn't know any better. And when he does start running through my aids, we come back down to the walk and re-establish it. We still spend a huge amount of time walking. Sometimes you need to go forward to keep their mind happy...but if I'm not getting straight and soft at the walk...I don't expect to (or demand to) get it at the trot or canter. I will ask of course, but expectations are lowered to almost nothing! Canter is still using the whole ring mostly (and trying to keep him on the rail with out getting a lead change which I get as soon as I put my inside leg on!) and he still runs into it a bit. But is progressing nicely. He is a totally border collie in a horse suit (smart and work-a-holic who wants to please).....and I think would get anxious if rushed. But keeping it simple and consistent, he is progressing nicely.
          Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Dec. 19, 2012, 10:56 PM.
          ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


          • #25
            BFNE, if I come back as a horse in the next life I hope I end up at your barn
            Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

            The Grove at Five Points


            • #26
              Originally posted by Starhouse View Post
              I've tried every trick in the book (one-rein stop, back down to walk then ask again, get off and lunge her, etc) but what absolutely 100% works the best, and of course scares me the most!, is picking up her head and kicking her on. It's very hard for her to be leaping around if she's actively moving forward, plus it teaches her that she cannot get out of doing something just because she's feeling frisky.

              Smacking her or doing a one-rein stop, both of which I'd call a direct punishment, makes her MAD. Like fuming mad, like she's going to blast off into orbit. If I ignore her and push her forward, she starts to realise that her attitude sucks, it takes a lot of energy to be that naughty, and it isn't really getting her anywhere.

              Makes me real excited to have kids and deal with their tantrums...not
              Originally posted by Vesper Sparrow View Post
              I also have a TB gelding like this, unraced (he's on the lazy side). In his case, I think he uses it to make things more interesting (he'll get a sly, amused look on his face just before he pulls one of his tricks on you). What works, again, is forward and ignore them and their behaviour. If you get into an argument with them, they get what he want. You have to keep your emotions out of it completely, which took me a long time to learn how to do.
              This is what I thought until Sunday....

              My OTTB's natural tendency is to suck back and stay behind the leg as an evasion. He learned it from being on the track (getting held back until the explosion from the starting gate) and had it reinforced with a handsy temperamental teenager. At new places he'd suck back and bottle up his nervous energy until there was a big explosion, and at home he'd try to resist by backing, by kicking at my legs, etc.

              I discovered one part of his problem and inability to learn better was magnesium deficiency causing tension/tightness in his hind end, and the other was that it was his learned evasion of choice. By constantly and always thinking forward he reached the point when we went places he wasn't thinking suck back even while super tense. Then I came off him over a little thing much smaller than any of his explosions and where I should have stayed on and ended up hurt for months.... He and I are both coming back into work now, and it turns out that since his forward became uninstalled during time off and the magnesium helped his body so much his explosions now somehow involve bucking sprees while forward. Yeah, forward is usually a good answer, but make sure you remember one rein stops so you don't go 50 yards before lawn darting it, too....
              Originally posted by Silverbridge
              If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


              • #27
                Originally posted by RiverBendPol View Post
                Starhouse, why the big hardware in your mare's mouth/face? Maybe a loose ring with a nugget would help her not over react? A kimberwick is pretty severe and the shanks on that hackamore are pretty long. Congrats for staying in the tack! Amazing what we learn when riding the Drama Queens, eh?! Mine doesn't tend to leap, thank goodness, but he has incredible braking power and the spin that follows tends to leave me there alone, picking dirt out of my teeth.
                These were back in the days where the naughtiness was combined with taking off, and I was having a hard time getting her head up (and consequently hit the dirt many times). I am no longer using the KW unless we're out XC - I am now riding her in a loose ring HS Aurigan snaffle that she really likes, which I sometimes switch out with a snaffle baucher bit. She got a big cut on her tongue when she stepped on the reins and pulled back with a bit in her mouth, so she was in the hackamore for about two months. I prefer to let her go like this:



                (in a hackamore a friend let me try before I bought one)

                but sorry, if she's trying to do her very best impression of a kid jumping on a bouncy castle, I'm going to have to get her head up somehow
                Last edited by Starhouse; Dec. 19, 2012, 11:10 PM.

                Custom Painted Saddle Pads and Ornaments


                • Original Poster

                  To reiterate, if he's just having a "brain fart"/flailing episode, but is going generally forward, I sit quietly and continue whatever it is we were doing or bring it back a notch. I really only use a spur when he's actively ignoring my aids/stuck in reverse (that I will not tolerate) and am quick to praise when he starts behaving. If I get too in his face, he gets more upset; a small swat on the shoulder can lead to a minor tantrum ergo no more little swats...

                  I think a big difference/learning curve for me is that he's soo much more sensitive than what I'm used to. Sensitive to the point that my trainer mentioned that I should find the biggest, fattest french link snaffle instead of the medium french snaffle as she thought THAT was too much bit for him, evidence by his head tossing when asking for a half halt. Switched that out today, much happier horse! I also kept it fairly simple today, since yesterday's lesson was such an effort. Lots of walking over piles of poles (what he was having a fit about yesterday) when warming up, baby leg yeilds (again that sensitivity coming out, leg=forward) and getting him to stretch down to the bridle. I didn't even bother to canter as he was going so well at the walk and trot, very relaxed and listening, that I felt we should end on a good note followed by a brief walk around the property.

                  I think I'm also at fault, I may be a little anxious about the gymnastics after our last lesson with a serious tantrum at the end of it. Self fulfilling prophesy type of deal, working on my relaxation skills in the saddle as well...

                  I think I'll start to incorporate more ground driving since the weather is starting to turn (I try to hack him out as much as possible), to keep the ring work "new" and not so much drilling. I've also been starting to not work him along the rail/wall, as he likes to use that as a security blanket, he becomes much more tractable when not blindly following the rail. Plus lots of random poles spread out so that they become old hat and nothing to be anxious about.


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by ACMEeventing View Post
                    BFNE, if I come back as a horse in the next life I hope I end up at your barn

                    Nah...the cats have it more made. I want to be one of my cats
                    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                    • #30
                      As others have noted, of course address any health concerns first, then make sure you aren't overfacing them - physically or mentally. I wish more riders actually worked out - both cardio and weights - to understand lactic acid thresholds and so on, but eventers tend to be much better about this overall. But from your post, I didn't get immediate feeling you were overdoing things or overlooking some medical issue. Not saying to just assume, but if all that checks out, I found in 10 years riding lots of OTTBs and green others, horses hit what I call their teenage phase. They've done just enough to think they know something, and then we step up the difficulty and they have full-on teen angst moments. If the horse wasn't starved before and was good in the beginning, they (so far in my experience) get over this phase, too. Just like you describe, being patient through tantrums as much as possible, but not letting them "get away" with it. I do find sensing when they are losing focus and ending before shenanigans start really helps. Shorter sessions when doing higher level, complicated things, and build fitness hacking out. As the brain and body both mature, you'll end up with a normal horse. Just try not to combine conditioning rides with the big boy stuff. If he's good, a ten minute session with poles is plenty right now. Don't do trot/canter flatwork stuff for a long time (in baby world, 20 minutes is a lifetime!), then do poles. So warmup on poles days may be a walk on loose rein in a field, for example... Don't expect baby to workout (trot sessions), leg yield, and jump in one session. Good luck!


                      • #31
                        I think riding greenies can be like watching paint dry but man do I love it. I spend so much time walking and just doing baby lateral work, bending and transitions. Once you get the connection and bending established in the walk than the rest becomes much easier. When you get the horse between the aids it is much easier to deal with the explosions

                        The toughest horse that I have had in terms of getting to bend/getting soft is my own personal horse who came off the track at 8yrs old and ran close to 60 times. He takes things very personally so I am careful to break it down. First teach him to move off the right leg, then establish that he can connect to the left rein, then start to add bend. I don't even harp on transitions just yet because they have to be physically strong and when they are not you are picking a battle over something they can't do which is no fair.

                        You have to be very careful when working to give them mental breaks and I often will back off for a minute when I feel them start to build. You want them to be relaxed and happy in the work so push to a point, then back off and do something else and then come back to it. You have to do everything so gradual so they come to enjoy the work and not dread it.

                        Good luck!


                        • #32
                          Starhouse, those pix make me happier ;-) Heliodoro, I just had another thought too...Jlee reminded me...When you're working your DQ, always take him back to something easy that he knows how to do in his sleep. My intermediate horse LOVEDLOVEDLOVED to show off his medium trot. (this obviously was a more trained, more muscled horse than you have right now but..)when we worked on lateral stuff and I could sense he was getting to the edge of his patience/strength/understanding, I'd let him fire across the diagonal in his big trot. We'd do it a couple or 3 times then he'd be ready to go back to the new/hard stuff. You could go to a stretchy circle or just something he knows and is easy for him, BEFORE he cranks it up. Better to prevent with something positive than to manage once he's lost his composure.
                          Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.