More importantly, do not let your horse head butt your trainer. I should have reiterated this lesson to Ike before our weekly lesson with Ms. C. She was on the ground trying to help me unlock Ike’s jaw so I could achieve a hint of left flexion. I’m pretty sure he knows what she wants him to do, but like the errant child, he sometimes fights the fight just because he can. Ms. C kept after him until he finally flinched an inch. She let go of the rein and the bugger deliberately clunked her with the side of his head. If I had not witnessed it, I’d say that there was no way he did it on purpose. Needless to say that he received a stern reprimand from Ms. C.
Ike must be going through a rebellious phase. The list of transgressions continues to grow. If he was a high school student, he’d be on Out of School Suspension for a few weeks for his recalcitrant behavior. So far since the start of the new year, he has chewed the barn’s support beam, destroyed the old boot that we tied in his stall, refused to load on the trailer for the clinic, tried to bite me while tightening the girth, objected to my leg when asked to move, stomped on my foot a couple of times, bolted with me on board, snatched the reins from my hand on a few occasions, and now we can add head butted our trainer. Sheesh! I want my quiet, obedient 3-year old back. Maybe?
While his behavior has been questionable at times, when he does set aside the naughtiness, there is a talented young horse emerging. This time last year we were lucky if we could trot a circle that approached a round shape; more often than not Ike’s hind end would drift to the outside. And canter circles? Forget about it – we definitely only had canter ovals. Heck, we were lucky if Ike could pick up the correct lead and if we could make the turn on the short end of the arena without me losing a knee. We had lateral movement last spring only because Ike was so unbalanced and I was not strong enough to stop the sideways drift.
We are definitely coming out of winter this year with more strength and stamina. Ike’s body is starting to fill out and look less like a gangly giraffe baby. His back is strong enough to accept some sit trot and to maintain a connection in the canter (at least for most of a circle). My skill set has improved which may be the best accomplishment from our winter work. I dare say that my half halt timing is better and even better yet, rather than just slamming on the brakes in our down transitions, I can guide Ike to a smooth down transition where he stays up in his withers and bridle (oh, yeah, use your legs Alison rather than just your reins – dare I say a light bulb moment).
Weather is warming up and we are gearing up for that first centerline of the season – have hight hopes that we might actually hit that 70% mark this season.