Wednesday he was a bit up with his leaser, giving her some trouble on his trail ride. Nothing dirty, but it was her first introduction to 'stud mode' and that's always interesting. I rode him Thursday night and he gave me a big head shake and little strike with the front feet when he was corrected for throwing his shoulders. He generally overreacted to corrections and was heavy in the bridle. Huh.
I already wrote up my lesson where he was a bit temperamental and distracted. Quick with the front feet, quick to bite, stomping his feet in his work, not wanting to go forward, oooooh, I know what this is. Mary chased him forward into the big work he needed and he was jello afterward. He was good on Saturday for his leaser since he was tired from our lesson. Today it was my turn for a bit of cross training. The plan for the day was a long trail ride with lots of hill work. We never made it to the trails.
He was fine when I brought him in, but I noted he was a bit rude about his blanket coming off. Old bad behaviors resurfacing. Yeah, no, nipping this in the bud. Ground work was a go. I swung on afterward and headed out. The Ritz was open so I decided to do two laps of hill work in each direction before setting out. Staying home turned out to be a good call. He was just up, distracted, looky, and generally not interested in my input. Several times he did his little mare squeal buck combo. Most horses work down, papi tends to work up until I get to the bottom of the problem, so the ride got more challenging as we went. He didn't want to flex correctly, he wanted to crane his head and look outside of the circle. He didn't want to put his head down and power up the hills, he wanted to look like a giraffe. He didn't want to go forward unless it was a bolt.
He finally let go and gave me an all out bronc once we were jumping some little logs. I went to collect him coming off of a downhill and he just threw a huge fit. Jump buck jump buck jump while grunting and squealing. What the actual fuck, papi. Then he braced his legs and dared me to kick him again.
I had a split second of wanting to get the hell off of that horse because he was looking to toss me. He's got a big damn bronc and I was so thankful I had him in my jumping tack where I can ride through it without the saddle fighting me. But if I got off, who else was going to get on? I knew that would be the worst possible move. He was being a bully and trying to scare me. Last time he pulled this, I didn't have a full set of tools. This time, I was ready. Want to have a hissy when I use my leg? Let's see you buck while your legs are crossing. Turn on the forehand, disengage the hind quarters, drop your head and flex. Now turn on the haunches, marching, get your head down. Go forward, go forward right the fuck now. Now leg yield. Halt, back up, half passe, trot off in a steep shoulder in.
It completely stopped the cycle. Theo seriously didn't know what to do with that response. He would try to scoot, but he was going sideways and it just made things harder for him. I can control his shoulders now. He'd try to throw them and I shove him back the other way. He tried to tear through the reins but I already had his number. He balked and I could safely kick him through it. He was rip shit, but he didn't have a lot of choices. He was so relieved to go straight ahead that he didn't try to fling his shoulders and bolt. If he started to be an ass, he went sideways. He didn't want to go sideways any more, so he'd settle. Then I'd trot forward quietly and leave him be.
Once the lesson was jammed into his tiny pony brain, we jumped the two logs on a soft feel, no bucks, stopped straight. Long rein, many cookies, and long walk to cool out. He was blowing hard. The whole ride had been up and down hill, working on uneven footing. He's going to have a sore tush tomorrow, I expect. I was going to feel bad for him, but when I turned him out, he had a bucking, farting gallop. I guess I didn't find the bottom of it.
Should be tired. He's not.
His leaser has her first real dressage show on Sunday. FML.
I have to find the bottom of Theo before Saturday. Fortunately this nonsense usually only lasts a week or two, we should already be managing the worst of it. It just means that there will be a whole lot of sweaty saddle pads this week as we work through it. It's not evasion or naughty, he just feels really good with the heat gone and needs to get it out. At least this time I have all of the tools installed so I can short circuit the behavior before he crosses the line into dangerous. We'll tag team him this week, get those energy levels down and ride him outside as much as possible. I can't give him the gallop he needs when he's unrideable, but I need to gallop him hard to get the bucks out of him. Oh, what a quandary.
I'm going to try to squeak in an extra lesson this week to get a tune up on his ground manners with our natural horsemanship trainer. Chain shank/rope halter/bridle and dressage whip for at least a week to make sure this stays under control. He's so damn fast with those front feet when he's like this.
He's lucky he's cute and only pulls this nonsense once a year.