Have I ever mentioned that Presto has way too much in common with the “Mayhem” character in the Allstate commercials?
I’m pretty sure he used up all of his Good Boy during the trail ride the weekend before, because last week the Mayhem was turned up particularly high. Like when he got into the feed room and ate all the cookies, destroyed all the feed pans, and tossed a bunch of shit all over the place.
Or like when the farrier came and he was all NAH I DON’T DO DIS and broke one of the crossties (may I remind you that he’s been getting his feet done every 5 weeks for like… ever? and has never done anything like that). If you need something destroyed, he’s your man.
Let’s hope he got all of that out of his system last week because “angsty teen” is not a cute look on a big baby horse. For real his show name should have totally been Mayhem Like Me.
While he’s been an absolute turd for regular life, he’s been pretty good when it comes to his (very part time, very entry level) job. Ever since the complete and utter rejection of his fancy bits a couple weeks ago, I re-routed to a new plan to try to see if we could fix some of his mouth fussiness. I was pretty certain by then that it wasn’t physical discomfort, but more of a “NO I DON’T LIKE IT” thing. So he’s back in the Myler and I’m lunging him twice a week in the balancing reins. He’d worn them a few times before, VERY loosely, but not really “worked” in them and not consistently. I made them a little bit more snug (still loose, but snug enough to where he couldn’t ignore what they were telling him) and used them in more regimented lunge sessions. And from working him those few times on the lunge line, I thought I was starting to see improvements. Moments where he wasn’t bracing or fighting or fussing, and they were getting more frequent.
Of course, it’s not consistent yet by any means. The good moments are sandwiched in between moments like this:
Still… the good moments in between the resistance and the avoidance have gotten longer and more frequent with every session and there haven’t been any real tantrums. I keep it short, maybe 10 minutes, and mostly just encourage him to keep the forward energy. We do some transitions (somewhere in the past couple months he’s gotten really solid with the word “canter”… since he didn’t canter on the lunge line much when he was younger, he hadn’t learned that one yet) between the gaits, but mostly I’m just trying to let him figure it out with himself by stripping it down to it’s most simple form. There’s no rider, just him. The reins are still loose enough to where there isn’t a lot of pressure (ie I’m not forcing his head down), just enough to be a persistent ask. He can figure it out the answer on his own.
Yesterday was the first time putting it to the test under saddle to see if it’s helping. I mean, we had gone on that trail ride last weekend but that was just a loopy rein walk, no contact or “work”. But yesterday I tacked him up and went to the ring to see how/if things were sinking in and translating.
My Pivo hasn’t arrived yet so I don’t have any media, but the ride was actually better than I would have thought. It’s still very rudimentary and inconsistent when you’re talking about actual correct acceptance of the bit, but there’s no more fighting the contact. Not once did he object. Several times both at the walk and the trot we were even able to string together several consecutive steps that were totally proper. And of course, since he’s not actively fighting the contact, other things are better too. Like steering. We made some legit serpentines and half circles, and his leg yield capability is kind of impressive. He is ridiculously in tune with my seat too, considering how freaking green he really is. I can feel the nice horse that’s lurking in there.
Considering it’s only been 4 sessions with the balancing reins I’m pleased with the progress. I really think he just needed a little bit of a lightbulb moment to get him over the hump so he could start to figure out the bit. I’m not asking him to go like a dressage horse yet, by any means, but he does need to at least have an understanding and acceptance of light consistent contact.
I’m not ready to say he’s “there” yet, but I do think we’re definitely on the right track. For sure there has been improvement in the past couple weeks, so we’ll continue down this path and see how it continues to develop. It would probably come along more quickly if I rode him more often or did more ring work versus trail riding or hacking, but… I’m not willing to do that. He’s just a baby and I still want most of his time to be his own. He’s got important baby horse business, ya know?
I’m happy with little tiny bits of progress. He’s already exceeded my expectations for where he’d be by ride… 14?, so no point in getting greedy.
I’m currently planning another trail ride day for him so we can spend more time out and about exploring. I got his hoof boots last week, so he’s officially ready for his next adventure!