Eeyore loves to bulge towards the inside of the arena. Doesn’t matter which direction we are going though he typically prefers to grab the right rein tracking both directions.
When put on a track he will bulge that inside shoulder and when that doesn’t work he will swing his hindquarters as well. Anything to avoid the hard work of tracking up and moving straight.
Trainer AB would tell me to “own his right side” as we tracked left. By committing to the outside rein, he stays under himself and straight albeit begrudgingly and with angry Appy faces. I’m not to give an inch and I’m not to worry about anything else.
Last night I tacked him up and told him “Bud, this ride can go as easy or hard as you make it. It’s hot as heck out here and I’d prefer a nice w/t/c ride with a cool down in the pasture. But if you want a fight then so be it.”
Right from the start I kept Trainer AB’s words in my head, “own his outside”, and own it I did! The ride wasn’t hoof perfect, but it was lovely anyway. I don’t know how to explain it. Before I always felt like I was fumbling in the dark. When he would bulge and resist, I felt like I had no response and things would continue to spiral away with both of us getting more and more frustrated. Now though, when he begins to bulge out, I own that outside rein and can feel his body move back underneath me, see our progression straighten out and then boom – it all falls into place.
Another Trainer AB-ism that ran through my head last night was “wrestle with him”. She never wants me to be rough, but when he decides to take matters into his own hands…er well mouth…and grabs the bit to go cantering off when all I want is a trot she wants me to play with the reins, flop around a tiny bit, “sorta act like you are going to fall off”, anything to snap his attention back on me and away from his own plans. She uses this technique for spooky horses as well to get their mind off whatever it is they are spooking or nervous about. She wants them to learn to focus on the rider and by being a little silly up their she has had great progress.
So when he picked up the canter going down the long side back towards the gate I told myself “wrestle with him” and within 2-3 strides he was back to the trot versus half an arena later. That is a big win. I didn’t just stay along the rail this time either. I added large full arena figure eights, would circle at one end before continuing down a long side, made smaller and large circles as well. All with the mantra of owning the outside rein and not letting him dictate anything.
We did get to cool out in the big pasture. It’s too inviting to pass up when it is freshly mowed. The entire thing is a series of rolling hills that make it the perfect conditioning pasture. If I trusted him more. I managed an entire lap around the whole field at a walk without him losing his marbles. He called out for Gem and Pete at the very beginning but otherwise was a very good boy about it. I’ll slowly add more laps and eventually trot out there. One step at a time though.
He has a big week this week. The chiro/acupuncture vet is coming out Wednesday (she is also our equine dentist) and the farrier is due out Thursday so he will get both those days off and then we will see how he feels come the weekend. I’m hoping he feels like a million bucks since that is about what I will be spending on his this week.