The Yes-Man

One of my favorite things about Henry is that, in general, he’s a pretty agreeable type of guy. Sure, he can get super tense and curl himself up into a tiny up-and-down ball of horse like nothing else I’ve ever ridden, and clearly he will never enjoy having his legs scrubbed, but the word “no “isn’t really in his vocabulary. Really, he is the epitome of a Yes Man. Those yeses can vary widely, from the grudging and perhaps borderline dramatic “omg FINE” of Dressage Henry to the absolutely euphoric “ERMAGERRRDD YAAASSSSS” of XC Henry, but they’re all still overall obedient reactions.

that’s a definite YAAAASSSS

So last night at my dressage lesson when Henry absolutely flipped me the proverbial bird and NOPE’d right over PLSDT (poor long suffering dressage trainer), all I could think was: “well this is a new one.”. The offending movement? Rein back.

This isn’t the first time we’ve ever done rein back. I mean come on, it’s a basic. Granted, we don’t work on it that much. Last night he did a few, grudgingly, and then at my next request after that he was disinclined to acquiesce to the whole backwards thing anymore. He stood there rooted, stiff-jawed, until finally his solution was to charge forward through my hand. PLSDT came to help and Henry just about ran over the top of him before he finally sighed, rolled his eyes (ok that part didn’t happen, but if horses could roll their eyes, trust me, they’d have been rolling around like that boulder in Indiana Jones) and took the requested 3 steps back.

literally the only picture from last night because I am so good at media

My first thought was that my aids were incorrect and he didn’t understand, but PLSDT verified that they were accurate. My next thought was that he’s sore somewhere (even though he sure as hell felt fantastic for the rest of the lesson, especially in the canter directly proceeding the bird-flipping rein backs), because he’s only about a month away from his SI being due. That could certainly be part of it. But mostly I think it was because we started this at the end of the lesson, after a walk break where he thought he was already done, it was hot, he was sweaty, and rein back is hard for him anyway being that he’s a croup-high horse.

Either way, we definitely went home with some homework. He is no stranger to the “backwards” concept, because one of his strengthening exercises from his chiropractor/acupuncturist is backing short distances up a slight incline, which we do in hand regularly. He just genuinely had no interest in backing 3-5 steps at the end of our dressage lesson last night. So now, we shall rein back several times every ride.

$20 says today he reins back perfectly, like he’s never done otherwise in his entire life. Horses, amiright?

Image result for drama queens gif

14 thoughts on “The Yes-Man

  1. I had to read it a few times before I realized that “rein back” is English for “backing up” in western. I’m still in the midst of my transition from western to English. My trainer can attest. However, I back all my horses a few steps then go forward a few steps before I get off at the end of a ride. Might help Henry in the more formal rein backs to get a little practice every day.


  2. So much drama. Charmer feels you on that offending rein back, Henry. I’ve had Charmer for 2.5 years and the horse literally despises going backwards under saddle. More than happy to do it on the ground, but ask in the saddle? Lots of angry tail swishing and bit chomping and general anger and tension.


  3. Georgie hated the rein back as well. And she was a yes girl, just like Henry. I wonder if it’s just weird for them to be going forward and now all the sudden we ask for backward. Or he was just hot and sweaty and done, lol.


  4. Ugh I wish my horse was a yes man. Alas. We get that “nope” a lot. Esp lately. Usually for reasons tho (usually, not always, but usually) so it’s always back to the drawing board. Rein backs tho? Yea. Unacceptable lol.


  5. We’ve had some NOPES lately too, but our have been in the opposite direction – like, NOPE I do not trot anymore thankyou.
    Oh Henry, you just got yourself some good backing time!


  6. We use reinback a lot during our dressage lesson, whenever Ashke gets “heavy” on the bit, or “expressive” in his canter want-to departs or “unbalanced” in his downward transitions. Because he is such a forward horse, reining back reminds him that forward is not always the answer. Sometimes we even reinback to the place where we made the mistake and try again. Or in a circle because that is always fun.


  7. I’ve read that performing a correct rein-back is one of the hardest movements, because it requires both a great deal of collection and a great deal of submission. If your halt isn’t balanced and forward (i.e. haunches coiled under instead of sprawled out behind), there is almost no way for the horse to do anything other than a hollow rein-back. Taran regularly flips me the bird in rein-back (our best score to date is a 5, woohoo!) but you can see it coming because the halt isn’t collected enough. And he will rein-back in hand all day long, so it’s not like he doesn’t understand the concept. But doing it correctly under saddle is HARD.


  8. I can equate Henny’s rein back to me walking to class. Sometimes I sit on my couch and just get angry at the thought of it, don’t even ask me to do it. I understand, buddy.

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  9. i feel like actually working on the reinback is a HUGE dressage milestone. I still have enough trouble with unscheduled reinbacks that it’ll be years before i try to do one on purpose


  10. When I was a small child, I had a horse that wouldn’t back. It was pretty annoying given he was best in pleasure classes (where backing is often a thing). So one day I decided I was going to teach him by walking into a corner in the indoor, halting, and then asking for the back. My thought being that in a corner he couldn’t evade by walking forward or side to side since there’s a wall in all of those directions. I kid you not, the horse walked himself right into the wall and just kept going until his nose touched his chest. So I guess backing is hard. And it’s cruel of you to ask after making Henry do the dressage alllll dayyyy longgggg!


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