Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Mud Wars

When will the rain stop? It's messing wisth my riding schedule. I didn't go out yesterday or today. I knew with the winds and the rain it would be an exercise in riding past the spooky rattling barn door on the short end. Not something I felt up to after my mud puddle wars on Sunday.

I had a nice ride on Sunday. I did have to work more on slowing him down. He always wants to speed up on that long side. We rode lots of circles and straight lines until he finally realized (once again) that I want to be the one to set the pace. I think this might take awhile. Either this wasn't an issue before or I just didn't recognize it as an issue. Once we'd gotten to a good place with tempo we worked on canter departs and staying with me on the tempo there too. I rode off the wall, and instead of riding around the arena I rode him straight towards the wall. That way if he decided to try and blow through my aids the wall would slow him down. He didn't give me any problems at all and was a very obedient boy. Because we had ended on such a good note and because it was rather nice outside, I took him for a little hack out and about the property.

We rode down to the summer pastures and around the outdoor arena. We rode between the rock barrier in the parking lot and the tractor barn and past the pile of hoses just waiting to rise up and eat an unsuspecting horse. We rode past the hay shed, the horse trailors, and the big pile of shavings. We even rode through a couple of puddles that had lost their water, but were still a bit muddy. Now Boo doesn't like mud puddles, so I was greatly encouraged when he rode through the mud without flinching or even trying to side step. I was so encouraged that I decided to give the large puddle outside the little barn a try. We walked up to the puddle which was about 2-3 feet across and about 4-5 feet long. Boo stopped. I gave him a squeeze. He backed up. I gave him a tap with the dressage whip (just a tap mind you nothing more) and Boo started his whirl to the left, head up, snorty, kick out behind bull that he does when he's going to put up an argument. Only this time instead of kicking out once he kicked out a second time, and then a third time. Ah oh, he was getting into a rhythm here and that was not going to be good for me.

I was trying to turn him into a circle but he was stronger than me, so I had to work my left hand down the rein nearly to the bit, pull his head towards my knee and hang on while he circled and snorted and circled and snorted some more. Finally he settled, but he was ready and waiting for me to try to make him cross that puddle. Instead I started walking him back and forth along the length of the puddle. With each turn I would bring him a little closer. Once I had worked him over close to the puddle again, I decided to turn him across the measly little edge of the puddle rather than through the center where it was deeper. Nope, not going there. He started jigging and side stepping his way around the puddle, and I ended up having to circle him again just to get him settled down. This time, once I got him settled, I got off. Let me tell ya, when I hit the ground my knees were knocking. I was grateful that I had not taken a fall and I was angry that Boo was putting up such a fuss over such a small thing as a puddle. He has to walk through a bigger puddle than that just to get out of his pasture and back to his stall at night!

I figured I couldn't let him get away with this, but no way was I risking breaking anymore bones, so I used my dressage whip to keep him off to the side of me rather than directly behind me and I hauled his butt through that puddle at least 10 times. Not along the measly little edge of the puddle either, but right smack through the just above the ankle center of it. The last time through I made him stop and stand in the middle until I said it was time to move. Then I hauled him over to the big barn and enlisted my much braver than me hubby to ride him through the puddle. Mick rode him back and forth 4 or 5 times. By this time Boo was frothing at the mouth but he was going through, so we called it a day. I took him inside, untacked him, and led him back out to graze...right through the middle of that big old puddle. Later on, when I got ready to take him into his stall for dinner I led him through the middle of that puddle again. He is going through that puddle everytime I take him out for anything until there is no more puddle to walk through.

The funny thing is, he didn't want to go through when hubby rode him either, so I walked through to the other side and turned around and looked at him and he came through to where I was. Did the same thing again the 2nd time through. It isn't a trust issue with me, because he's perfectly willing to follow me through if I go first...although I'm sure he'd rather go around. I ended up having to stand off to the side and let hubby take him through on his own, because he needed to go through when the rider told him too not because he could follow the leader.

Obviously this is just as big an issue for me to work through as it is for Boo. Maybe bigger. I've lost a lot of confidence in the saddle after the injuries I've suffered. We will keep working on it. Maybe puddles are always scary to a horse. A friend said she wondered if they didn't just look like a big hole to a horse. I'll figure out a way to motivate him to go through when I ask him too. It just might take me some time.


  1. wow you did so much work and got some good results too! Too bad about the weather...again!

  2. Sounds like you had a frustrating time with the puddle!! Glad you did not give up though.

    I have noticed with my bot that some days he goes right through them and some days they are thirty feet deep with lurking sea monsters in them! I finally figured that if the day is cloudy and no reflection on the water he is fine with it but... if there is any sun peeking out and causing a reflection he freaks out. Must be how his brain is perceiving the images.

    Keep at it!!

  3. Guess I need to take a more laid back attitude about it all...then perhaps he will too. Thanks ladies.

  4. You'd think with all the mud puddles our western Oregon horses deal with every day it wouldn't be such a big deal! And why is it as soon as we're mounted -- things turn into monsters that the horse didn't even notice before?

    Your tale reminds me of puddle wars that I had with my mare. Once started, you have to battle to the end. Kudos to you for finding a safe solution and being persistent.

    I turned my Wednesday barn visit into a barber shop day and didn't ride at all. But now Phantom has the coolest Continental braid...for as long as it lasts.

    Catch up with you at the barn sometime soon, I hope.

  5. Is Devonwood in Sherwood, OR ???