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The Three Rides Eeyore Gives

Eeyore (still working on new name) has three very distinct phases to his rides at home. I’m working hard at trying to figure out the best way to handle each and hoping with time they merge into one flowing ride, but for now our rides have very distinct chapters to them.

The warm up: At the beginning of the ride Eeyore is his touristy self. He looks around, pays minimal attention to me and screams for his friends. He is pretty amenable and generally offers up a fantastic forward walk that is fun to ride. Of course it comes with some downsides mostly his inattention and he tends to offer to canter a lot when walking or trotting.

Honestly this phase doesn’t bother me and is becoming shorter and shorter with every ride. He isn’t being bad. His head just isn’t in it yet and I can understand that. I mean it’s not like he decided it was time to exercise at that moment. I’m slowly learning how to get his focus on me and generally start off with a nice marching walk around the arena both directions on a loose rein but with a firm sense of where we are going with each step. From there it is on to a lot of changes in direction at the walk eventually working up to the trot.

The real work: Ah. The lovely center of the ride. When Eeyore is focused and game to work it is a pleasure to ride him. We walk. We trot. We bend. We work on geometry. Last night I returned to the Jumping Exercise book and set up the ground pole chute to work circles and figures eights at the walk and trot. He is light in the bridle, rhythmic and overall amenable to life.

This part of the ride is why I bought this horse. Unfortunately it leads to the last phase.

The quit. Once Eeyore perceives he is tired it is game over. I say perceives because he was quite capable of a 2 hour cross country school so I am no longer thinking that 45 minutes of walk and trot work in large circles and figure eights is tiring him out.

He has figured out that dropping his head gets him nothing but sent more forward and is now on to trying other ways to tell me where I can stick my ideas of work: curling behind the bit, cantering at the merest suggestion of leg, refusing to bend away from the gate, forgetting what a transition is. I have to laugh because his attempts at evasion are in the toddler stage compared to The Queen herself. Sorry buddy, but these antics won’t get you anything.

These phases played out last night pretty clearly. Once we began canter work he decided he was done with me and done with this whole riding horse thing. I switched to tons of walk trot walk transitions, threw in random halts and quit once he gave me one final circle away from the gate without breaking to canter or walk.

Really the only phase that bothers me is the last one. Once he mentally checks out I’m not really sure how to get him back. He just plain is done and I’ve never dealt with a horse that gives up. More fitness will help. More time figuring out his life with me will help. Perhaps changing it up with some jump schools at home versus flat work will help. I think though that deep down he is a quitter which is new to me and something that will take time to figure out how to deal with.

22 thoughts on “The Three Rides Eeyore Gives”

  1. he came from a lesson barn right? I think he is used to having a lot of horses around so hence STAGE 1 (screaming for his friends where are all the horses, they killed them ALL) LOL. Stage 2 is the best part of your post! YAY! Stage 3 also comes from being at a lesson barn. The quit. With lessons they learn this easily (not lessons with you but lessons with different kids etc. He will get out of this in a bit especially as you do more and more fun things with him. I know it is baby steps right now but I am so glad you like riding him and he is def the cutest! 🙂 Remus has a quit in him too when kids rode him. Like gate bound, etc. I had a kid riding him for a while since I couldnt ride for a bit and omg he hated that kid with a vengeance. Even dumped her if he could (which was not hard) she rode like a sack of potatoes. I realized it was better for him not to be ridden (which is way off topic for Eeyore but just wanted to let you know that this too shall pass) HA! 🙂

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  2. Interesting analysis. The first phase is very similar to how Irish used to be. It’s a great way to warm up.
    The quit is always interesting. I wonder if he has been consistently ridden for a specific time and he just assumes that he’s done. I would try mixing it up. Stop some rides when he’s still in the ‘work is fun’ phase so he doesn’t get to the ‘I’m done’. Giving walk breaks and going back to work or mixing it up by hacking out and gettng him to work in a different location.

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  3. I think he just needs to be ridden through it, like you’re doing. I used to know a lesson horse that, after 30 minutes, would walk into the center of the arena and declare he was done. I swear that horse had a timer in his head. Just keep working through it, and reward him with being “done” when he is good. I would also say, with this kind of horse, it will probably be important to get out of the ring a bit, even just for warm up and cool down. Give him something “fun” every once in a while.

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  4. You mean canter isn’t always the answer?! Griffin is also still appalled by this. But it makes me giggle that cantering seems a better idea than, oh, you know, WALKING to them. If someone was asking me to work on my posture at the walk I sure as shit wouldn’t offer up anything faster lol!

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  5. Haha, doesn’t he know you rode GEM and can take pretty much anything he throws at you? Poor guy…so clueless.

    The side eye in that last picture has me rolling 🙂

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  6. Whisper used to have a lot of quit in her. Hers was being overwhelmed and she’d get so frazzled that I almost could never reach her brain. I had to build trust with her before I could actually get through to her. He-Who-Is-Not-Named-Eeyore sounds completely different, and in his case, he might also be a bit bored. But I find that quitting while I’m ahead (that “work” phase where they’re really gung ho) causes them to start rethinking a lot. Then, once I can feel them really tuning in to me I’ll ask for just that little bit more, and then the smallest bit more, and before we know it we’re doing quality work for 45 min to an hour. I think you’re on the right track though with mixing it up and pushing him through it. Exactly as you said, it will just take time for him to learn what you want, learn what life with you is. 🙂

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    1. He might be bored. I’m pretty boring with him right now. I was hoping the xc outing last time I rode would be enough to jazz him but nope. I get a really awesome 20 minutes with him before he decides it is enough.

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  7. Time and consistency. Ride him and work him through it. Do all those things you mentioned and maybe try taking him back to your warm up phase work to get him back on you, before doing more intensive work. He has learned in the past that those antics get him out of work. I think you will find it will go away with time and consistency.

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  8. Lol he seems very similar to my horse, who also has distinct phases. Mine can’t quite comprehend why I would ask the same question twice if he already did it right the first time. Like, excuse me lady but we already cantered, duh! So he will go through the first part of the ride fantastically and then be appalled when we don’t just finish with that. But. Ya know. Sorry bro. You can do whatever you want the other 23 hrs of the day but for this one hour? I’m calling the shots !

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    1. I keep explaining to him that it is 1 hour two to three times a week. It’s not so bad of a life. Thankfully with him repetition seems to settle him instead of rile him up so that works in my favor. Until he gets over that too. I’m going to pull out my jumps tomorrow and see if that doesn’t perk him up. He really enjoyed jumping last week

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  9. Im thinking once he gets to the done phase, adding jumping, ground poles, trail obstacles, etc might perk him back up. Ive ridden a few that wpuld be getting dull and less responsive, then would be all bright eyed and happy when we moved from flat to other work. Hope he realizes he had a sweet gig with someone who doesnt give in easy lol.

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  10. For the longest time ever, after trotting around once, Batt would stop to scratch his leg. I finally stuck boots on him that he wears almost every ride or else he’ll stop to itch and it drives me INSANE. He doesn’t have to, it’s just because he learned if he has to itch, he gets to stop. Lesson horse problems. Then it was coughing/sneezing which is harder. But, interestingly enough, this problem MAGICALLY stops if we’re doing something fun like galloping up hills, jumping (cross rails only), or out on a trail ride and only shows up if I’m making him do something he doesn’t like or that’s hard like flat work or being second on a trail ride (ask Michele). He does have some heaves issues so it’s not all made up, but he definitely knows how to work it to his advantage…

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