(sung to the song Bass Down Low by DEV, NSFW, in honor of me explaining to Theo that there were some things he needed to know if he wanted me to be his new partner)
So Theo decided he needed to show me the little quirk he has that's gotten him a reputation as a little puke. Today was a jumping lesson in preparation for a little schooling show on Saturday (and that's a whole other rant about how I can't seem to avoid competition, but I digress). After a nice warm up, I got up off his back and asked him to give me a big canter around the ring. I'd pick him up in the corners and then push him forward down the long side, standard stuff before jumping.
After doing this a couple times left, I changed direction and warmed up to the right. That little SOB decided he'd had enough of being asked to do something hard and shied at the door to the arena. Then he bounced with the front end with a little buck and a big head shake. It was enough to rattle me out of the stirrups but not enough to get me out of the saddle. It was enough to piss me off. Nobody gets to try to scare me out of doing work. That pony backed his butt up halfway down the ring while I got my stirrups back, then went right back to cantering. He tried to shy away again and I put my spur right in his little rib cage. I do not think so, GI Joe.
That didn't work for him, so he tried not going forward promptly. Yeah, that didn't work out for him either.
After about 10 minutes of reexplaining the rules of the relationship to him, he shifted back to being his usual awesome self. I passed the test and we went about jumping in a very pleasant and reasonable manner.
So now I've learned a lot about Papa, and Papa learned something very important about me: stunts do not scare me, they piss me off. Good ponies get cookies, bad ponies get spurs and lots of galloping. I'm sure it's really effective with more timid riders, he seemed very surprised by what followed. My trainer was worried about me, thinking I was mentally rattled, but I wasn't going to let him get away with that. He pulls that nonsense, he is going to canter around the ring until neither of us can stand up straight.
After that I had to catch my breath, straighten out my stirrups, and convince my hands to stop shaking. I got a good look at the dirt on that little stunt. Ugh.
But he didn't finish me off. He could have dropped me pretty easily after I was rattled out of place, but he didn't. He doesn't seem malicious, just used to getting his way. He's a bit of a bully, not uncommon in big horses that do lessons. I'm probably in for a month or so of hell while he tests me, but I don't expect it to last long. He's learning very quickly that he can't scare me and I'll just make him work harder.
In related news, the roller spurs (called Soft Touch) are awesome, though I sound like a bit of a cowboy with them clinking along. No more pinching means no more swishing tail. I also tossed a sheepskin on under his saddle and he seems to like that. He's going to get so spoiled. I also got the last laugh since I had to pull his mane after our lesson. His mane is so long and thick, there's no way I'm even going to a schooling show with that.
Fly spray bottle for scale, I can almost knit a new pony and that's not even including the tail trimming
That's just from session one. I'll do the other half tomorrow. He was good for about 45 minutes, but he was making it clear he'd had enough. I think that's fair. Tomorrow he gets another session of pulling, a bath, chestnuts removed (soaking in moisturizer overnight), and I'll fine tune the trim job on his tail. At least he'll look very spiffy when he attempts to unload me because the shed by the town ring is terrifying.
Do I have a phermone that attracts the 'problem' horses to me? Or am I attracted to them?