Friday, February 11, 2011

Wherein Izzy Pulls a Pia Jr.

It was amazing here yesterday. Sunny, clear, slight breeze, and almost 50f. The outdoor arena was dry and had just been worked, so the footing was perfect. I turned Izzy out in the indoor. She was super lazy and would barely canter, so I tacked up and hopped on, omitting our usual winter lunging.

We started out trying to get her to stretch and work long and low. She was sticky and not forward at all. I kept at it. It's frustrating sometimes. I feel like I have to use my whip constantly, which is not the goal. I do a progression of aids--leg, cluck, whip--but at the beginning of our sessions, leg gets me nowhere. By the end, she's reasonably responsive. I just want her magically fixed now. Is that so bad? ;-)

I finally got her sort of stretching and we moved into the trot, then quickly into canter. I've noticed that canter tends to loosen her up, so I try to canter early, then come back to trot and work in it for a while, then return to a better canter later on. After a circuit or two of the arena, we dropped back to trot. Izzy remained her slightly sluggish self as we trotted by the end of the arena that is right next to the road. A car drove by. This happens all the time and never bothers her, so I thought nothing of it...

...until she started madly galloping and bucking down the long side of the arena towards the open gate! I lost a stirrup but kept me reins. I manage to snap my head back into the game about halfway down the long side, yelled at her, got her head up as she bucked one last time, and halted to regain my stirrup. As soon as I was situated, we trotted off. Then cantered. My logic was this:

1) If Izzy thinks trying to buck Aimee off is a good idea, then
2) Izzy may continue to run until her legs fall off.

We cantered and cantered and cantered. We worked on our transitions. We shortened and lengthened. We practiced staying balanced through the turns. We did big loops and small loops. We practiced going forward and keeping out balance up. Then we changed directions and did the whole thing the other way. By the time we were done, my black horse out in the bright sun was covered in sweat. She'd even foamed a little bit. She was definitely not worried about cars anymore.

And the funny thing? I wasn't worried about her. I wasn't even mad. I felt like we'd come to a good solution and I was pleased with my ability to stay on.

I know this probably sounds weird in light of the story I just told, but I'm wondering if I should do anything for Izzy, specifically as it relates to her energy levels. Since forward is so hard for us, part of me whats to give her some sort of energy supplement to induce forward. However, the other part of me wonders if maybe this is just who she is and besides, she obviously has enough energy to get some mighty bucks in on a pretty day. Any thoughts?


  1. WOW! You kept your head and got her in line! You are so cool. I wish I could do that. From sticky and slow to the bucking and the mad gallop! Congrats to you for being such a couraegous and competent rider. I am not kidding. i think I might have freaked out! I have been known to topple off a galloping horse! Doesn't it feel good to conquer? It sure is fun to read about it.

  2. Maybe she would benefit from some sweet feed? I don't think you've had any trouble with her weight, and don't recall if you've mentioned what she gets for grain, but if it's regular stuff, maybe switching a quarter scoop for sweet feed (or something, lol) might give her a little more "up" without making her obnoxious?

  3. I agree 100% with the whole, horse acts like idiot just because they can, which means they work 10x as hard. Gets the point across and doesn't involve beating the horse's brains out.

    Cruizer has the opposite problem. He has way too much energy where it leads to him spooking at everything and bolting out of nowhere, so to give him less energy we cut back on sweet feed and added a different feed with less starch and sugar. I'm guessing that Izzy then would gain more energy from having more sweet feed. :)

  4. Yeeehaw, Izzy! Sounds like she would like to switch careers from Dressage Pony to Rodeo Pony. But you did a good job handling the situation and taught her that bucky-bucky does NOT = ok, we're done working (and that is a very important lesson!).

    As far as energy goes, I have to disagree about the sweet feed. All that sugar can be bad for Izzy's digestion, her feet, etc. If she's lacking energy, I would have a blood panel pulled the next time your vet is out; that way, you'll know if she's lacking in any vitamins/minerals, etc. Then you can supplement as needed, without giving her the equivalent of several candy bars' worth of sugar (not to mention all the NSCs from the oats & corn in sweet feed -- that alone could be enough to make Izzy a very cracked-out pony!).

  5. Good point, Promise.

    Izzy gets maybe a quart of senior feed with powdered Ugard and a flax supplement, once a day. She holds weight, muscle, and condition just fine.

  6. Frizzle makes a good point about consulting your vet. That would give you the best idea about her nutritional needs.

    As well, more turnout might help too. She might be a bit bored with winter and need some time to just hang out outside being a horse and getting some extra exercise on her own.

    Well ridden with the bucking. Glad you stayed on and were able to work your naughty girl's equally naughty butt until she was tired. Hope she got the message.

  7. SB, if you're feeding Izzy only one quart of grain once a day, I can almost guarantee you that she is not getting enough vitamins/minerals. Most feeds are designed to be fed in much higher quantities, and if you feed less your horse will be getting less of the vitamins, etc. I would start her on a vit/min supplement or ration balancer right away, and I bet that will help her energy.

  8. From the way I read your post, Izzy made it pretty clear that she has plenty of energy and does not need any different food or supplements. (She's only six and gets plenty of hay.)

    Speaking from personal experience (truly), it sounds like she just needs to learn that you REALLY, REALLY mean it when you ask for forward. That's much easier said then done of course, but once SHE decided there was a reason to go (a stupid reason, but a reason nonetheless), she went forward beautifully.

    I can say this because I am horribly guilty of asking for forward but not making it clear I really mean it. Hence, my lovely guy and I often get much less than he can really do, and then the trainer gets on and off he goes. He knows she means it!

    Good luck

  9. I'm so interested in this post, because I have the exact same issue and questions - Rogo is often lacking forwardness so should I be looking to his diet to add more energy? I've been told, and given that Izzy and Rogo (my horse) are close in age and breed it may be true, that young horses are often this way. Clearly Izzy has energy when she wants (you did great!), as does my horse. I keep going over it though - would more protein help? etc. I've noticed his energy is over the top when he's on good grass, so maybe diet does play a part. Then again, he'll usually work well enough if I take long enough in the warm up - but it can take 1/2 an hour to get him going! Anyway, I'm writing a book. I wish I knew where to look for answers...

  10. Good Job! I had a neighbor, ignorant about horses, who once saw me work the stew out of a horse...running and cantering and working. She told me she felt sorry for the horse. I told her, if she'd seen him buck me off prior to all the work, she wouldn't feel so sorry for the ole chap.

  11. That doesn't sound like a Pia Jr, that sounds like she pulled that moved straight from the playbook, added her own twist and went to town.

    Nice job sticking with her. I hate those long run buck longsides......


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