Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

Good Dancer, Bad Dancer…

Posted by mandyhuckins on July 23, 2009

Lately, my rides have been excellent.  It seemed like each time, Dancer was better, stronger, more responsive.  On Saturday, she was particularly excellent.  She was loose and supple and her back came up and round as soon as I got on and started walking around.  Her trot was lofty and full of impulsion.  She was light in my hand and not pulling on the bit at all.  She was the epitome of self-carriage.  She sprang off my leg into her upward transitions without tossing her head up.  Her canter was slow and round but without a hint of wanting to break back to the trot.  Her leg-yields and shoulder-ins were smooth and easy.  I was in awe.  It started raining and I couldn’t stop riding her because it was so much fun.  When I spoke with my husband later that night, he asked me how my day was and I gushed “I had the BEST ride EVER on Dancer!”  He said, “do you realize that you have said that about once a week since we got here?”  I had not realized that, but when I thought back, it was true.  She has been getting better and better.  Cool.

I didn’t ride her on Sunday, but on Monday, she was also very good.  Maybe not quite as good as Saturday, but still very, very nice.  It was also getting ready to storm on Monday, so it was blustery and she was a little distracted (so was the other horse in the ring at the time).

Well, we all know that what goes up, must eventually come down.  On Wednesday, Bad Dancer raised her ugly head.  She would not – would NOT stand still.  Any time I asked her to halt, she got tense and anxious and wanted to move forward again.  When I wouldn’t let her, she tried to go sideways.  When I wouldn’t let her, she would rocket backwards.  When we were working on our canter transitions, she got squirrelly and tried her old hopping, head-tossing, bucking trick.  (But, this time I was actually able to ride through it and keep her cantering – yay me!)  Later, when I was trying to get her to do haunches in on a circle, she really wanted to canter instead, so whenever I would apply my outside leg, even the slightest bit, she would leap forward.  I would stop her, ask again and she would leap forward.  She was HOT.  However, I should note, this definitely wasn’t her worst day.  And, even though she wasn’t perfectly behaved, we did accomplish a new thing we have been working on – the counter canter.  I have done a few steps before, but she hasn’t been strong enough or balanced enough to really do it.  Last night, I had her in a good canter to the right.  I came across the diagonal and headed to the left.  I kept her going all the way around in a big loop to the left, back across the diagonal and returned to my circle to the right at the other end of the arena.  I was so stoked!  We had worked for a while, doing some pretty tough stuff and she was lathered up, but I could tell she was still very wild, so I took off her tack and let her have a good free-gallop around.  She loved it.  She loved it so much that even after I went back to the barn, put her stuff away, changed out of my boots, talked to someone and then came back to get her, she wouldn’t come to me.  She made me corner her.  That is VERY unlike her. 

Then, on the walk back to the barn, she was pushy and was walking all over me.  We had to practice giving me some space and stopping when I stop.  She even got a few “spankings”!  Now, I normally won’t hit a horse, but a horse who won’t respect your space (and who knows better) and could possibly be losing her eye-sight is dangerous.  I felt that I needed to nip that behavior in the bud.  So if she started to come over on top of me, I elbowed her and if she didn’t move over, I smacked her on the shoulder with my open hand (it makes a loud noise).  Just to show me her displeasure, as I turned her around once, she slapped me across the face with her tail.  It hurt like crazy!  Bad Dancer, very bad Dancer.  She usually has such good ground manners and is such a loving horse.   She hurt my feelings a little bit.  😦

I won’t be able to ride tonight, but maybe tomorrow will be a new day.


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