I rode Sydney in the afternoon on Tuesday for the first time since May. I fed him right away so that his food alert alarm wouldn't be activated. I took the lunge line out to the arena just so I would be prepared. It was 100 degrees. I hoped all of that would enable me to have an easy, relaxed 15 minute ride. Nope.
I hopped on and as soon as I tried to shorten my reins he got tense. I sent him forward and rocked the rein to remind him that I wouldn't hold on. He set his jaw and refused to bend to the left.
I immediately hopped off, grabbed the lunge line, and sent him around. And around. And around. Each time he tried to look to the outside, I swung his nose back to me. This started a round of bucking, rearing, squealing, and general disrespect. Each time he "shenaniganed," I jerked him back towards me. It took some time and a lot of sweat, but his expression began to change. I could see him trying to figure out just how in the hell he got in this predicament, and more importantly, how could he make it stop.
I gave him a chance to walk and praised him. I stepped closer and started pushing his hind end over while sending him forward. He finally, finally gave in. He was pretty sweaty, but not blowing hard, and I didn't care. This was his choice.
I hopped back on but felt the same tension. I planted my inside hand and just kept sending him around my inside leg. A couple turns around, and then I changed the bend. I again asked for a nice circle. Every time he fussed or got tense, I repeated the small circles.
Again, it took some time, but I finally outlasted his tantrum. He gave up. He didn't work as nicely as he has been doing in the mornings, but the melt down was far, far less dramatic, and the recovery was much quicker. Once he went to the left for a circle or two without being tense, we walked a bit and then worked to the right. He started out tense this way, too, but quickly gave up. I asked for several circles where he moved off my inside leg, and then we were done.
I was ticked that we were back to this fussy way of going, but I was thrilled that I called his bluff and made him work anyway. I never got mad or scared. I just kept bending, bending, bending. Hopefully I am on to something here. It's going to get cool before too long, and it will be a lot harder to convince him that my way is easier if he's not soaked in sweat!