From Endurance to Dressage
Flowers in the Attic
Do you remember how smiley I was the other day? Well screw that! I swear to all that's holy, I need meds for my bi-polar condition.
Oh, wait. I know how to fix my condition - GET RID OF A HORSE! And he who caused this knows exactly to which horse I am referring.
I had the mother of all lessons on Monday. Remember all that talk about closing this door and that door? That worked all right, until Sydney found yet another stinkin' door. How many Goddamn doors can there be?
This time, Sydney found the attic door, also known as a rear. He's always had a propensity for rearing so it's not a total surprise, but apparently, the rear was only required if other doors were closed. On Monday, I had slammed every freakin' door until forward was his only option. Unfortunately, I didn't know an attic door had been installed.
Excuse my language here, but son-of-a-BITCH! Are you kidding me? Crap.
When I say rear, I don't mean this ...
I mean THIS, and I am dead serious!
There were half a dozen of these. Most of the time I was pissed and spurred the sh*t out of him once we were on the ground, but once or twice, I was pretty sure he was going over. This is dangerous. I am fully aware of how precarious this situation is, and believe me, I am dealing with it so please no, sell him now comments.
Had I been riding alone, I would have found a successful moment and gotten off. I am not stupid. But with my trainer there offering support from the ground, we rode through the naughtiness and tried to teach him that this was not acceptable behavior. My trainer has a plan, and we're working on it from the saddle, but I decided to work on it from the ground as well.
At the end of turnout the next day, I went to the gate to get Sydney to bring him back in. He was throwing a little hissy fit and gave a huge rear as I approached the gate. I charged the gate, swinging my arms wildly while hissing and yelling at him. His eyes popped open in surprise and he bolted in terror. Good, I said to myself.
I opened the gate and waited as he walked up to me quietly. I sent him away a few times (love a lot of the natural horsemanship strategies) and asked him to come back up to me. I slipped the halter on and started on some ground work. He got a little fussy one time and reared while on the lead rope. I went to TOWN with the lead rope and smacked him HARD, and then I sent his hindquarters spinning. He stared at me in total shock.
Aw … power is so very intoxicating. My fear simply melted away, and I became Wonder Woman! I am AWESOME on the ground. There is never any fear when I do groundwork.
We played around for a few minutes backing up smartly without rearing. Each time he backed, I called him back into my space and rubbed his forehead and stroked his neck. And then I sent him back again. Within minutes, he was licking and chewing and offering a yes, ma'am as quickly as he could.
I am going to continue to demand hard and fast back ups from the ground in an effort to illicit a rear so that I can let him know exactly what I think of that response. If there are no rears, well all the better as that tells me he is getting the message.
Monday's ride left me feeling quite anxious (who wouldn't be?), but after doing some ground work, I felt as though I had reasserted myself. Again, I find that when I confront a fearful situation, I nearly always replace the anxiety with confidence and empowerment.
I'm with you on the rearing! It scares the crap out of me when I'm riding. Bucking, bolting and spinning I can handle. I think that you were very brave and I like your ground approach.
Wow. How frustrating! I also own a rearer, though we usually don't have anything THAT dramatic. He rears when he feels too constricted, like he has nowhere to go.
2/5/2014 11:11:56 pm
I agree, rearing is one of the scariest of bad behaviors! I had one horse who could rear easily and actually did flip over on his back with a rider onboard! However, when he realized there would be a "negative" consequence to his shenanigans, he got much better. It sure sounds like you're sending Sydney a clear message! Be careful!
2/6/2014 12:13:47 am
i've never laughed out loud so much reading your blog. the way you convey what happened, i mean. i love the empowerment, the plan that replaces the fear. i had totally forgotten about wonder woman's rope, omgoodness. i love that image of ..padron?
2/6/2014 10:16:39 am
My mom thinks everything I write is funny. I am glad you found it amusing. While humor is not usually my goal, I do try to look at every situation as a glass half full which does come across with some self-deprecation (always funny when its someone else!). If I didn't, I'd never have the courage to ride either of my horses!
2/6/2014 01:10:50 am
My TWH is a reformed rearer. Not the first pic you posted either, a solid second pic so I know exactly how you feel. Very solid respect on the ground, a very solid HEAD DOWN cue with the reins and getting really pissed is how you work to fix it. Find what behavior offends him the most, that he despises you do, and then do it when he rears. When the TWH absolutely, positively, could not function and stop rearing, the last resort was a hard thwack between the ears with the handle of a crop b/c his other option was being euth'd (before I owned him, I was his trainer). It took exactly twice and it fixed him. Good luck!!
2/6/2014 02:32:55 am
Wow, how naughty! Good for you for trying to work through it - I admit, that's a behavior that scares the crap out of me. Sounds like your groundwork plan is a good one though, and I love your image of Wonder Woman!
2/6/2014 07:12:02 am
Is he feeling trapped from going forward at all when this happens? Rearing is a hateful vice - do what you gotta do to cure him of that one. An old school cure I've heard of is to break an egg between his ears.
2/6/2014 07:18:05 am
So glad you are ok! Hopefully everything will work out.
My last mount Spirit was a rearer. We fixed it with having someone come behind us with a shovel (not exactly "natural horsemanship" but you may want to consider it). She figured out *forward* pretty quick from that!
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
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Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
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