Roxy and I had a rough lesson last night. It really had nothing to do with the lesson as much various issues that came to a head. I had a nice day at work and headed out to get her ready before my ride at 7pm. I got her tacked up and out to the arena for some lunging about 20 minutes prior to the start of my lesson. There were 2 other people riding which made for a little bit of a tight squeeze when lunging a wild horse. We did lunge and did our best to stay under control. Roxy kept falling in on one particular side of the circle so I flicked the whip at her and took a small step towards her working to push her out. Well, she did not like that and decided to kick at my head. This is not the first time she has done that but it doesn't make me any more happy about it. I was somewhat ready for her response and immediately pushed her forward.
After we had switched directions one of the other horses in the ring left. Roxy does not like being left in the arena (never mind there was still another horse working with her). She went flying backwards towards the wall and reared. She then ran forward and kicked out, with both legs straight behind her 3 times. Once she quit bucking/kicking she took off running around me. I made her continue to canter until she had settled down. At that point it was time for my lesson to begin. Mary and I discussed how naughty she was being but decided to go ahead and hop on her. By this time the 2nd horse was ready to leave the arena and Roxy pitched a mini fit about that. Once I got her walking again I asked Mary what she thinks about this behavior. I am a firm believer in the idea that there are MANY nice horses in the world and it is not worth struggling against one that won't work with you. Even if they are ridiculously talented. It's just not worth it. Mary brought up that point that if it is becoming scarey or not fun then we should draw the line. We talked about possibly sending her to a cowboy although I think that could go 2 ways. I'd either end up with a horse who had a little more respect or one that is really rank. Hmm...not sure on that. There is also always the possibility that Roxy may just be happier doing something else.
Now, let me step back and say that I have been able to do a lot with Roxy and she is not a horrible horse. She came to me almost straight off the track and is great on trails, travels well, is not nasty while in heat, is super brave, has gone to the beach, extreme trail schooling, cross country schooling, some small horse shows etc. We are not talking about a horse that no one can handle or do anything like that. I also don't believe she is mean, just naughty. She does NOT like being bossed around and Mary feels like she is just trying to be the boss. Unfortunantly because she is so athletic and headstrong she loses her mind a little when you push her around and is fairly adament that she doesn't want to do something. It is difficult to want to push her when you are not sure how far she will go in her refusal of your request. She is like a small child throwing a tantrum about a toy she didn't get...except that she is over 1000 pounds and you are trying to ride her.
Back to last night: We decided to push her and let her know who is boss. We started out walking on a circle asking her to be on the bit. We fought about this a little but it wasn't bad. I then brought her on the centerline and asked her to leg yeild from my right leg into the left rein, while staying on the bit. She was fairly responsive to the request to move off my leg but did not want to stay on the bit. I got really strong with my seat and hands requiring her to stay there. Of course she was not happy about this and began backing up. We backed some circles around the arena with the occasional popping of her front end of the ground. I did my best to not give in to her and when I got her walking forward again we went right back to it. Once she did it nicely we let her have a loose rein and a walk break.
After her walk I picked the reins back up and put her to work. We repeated what we had already done and then asked her to trot. Once we established a nice trot we worked on a smaller circle leg yeilding out until we were ready to get straighter and leg yeild to the rail. She again through several fits but we just picked right back up where we had been and made her work. We did get some decent leg yeilds and then had a wonderful trot!
I tend to be on the nice side and am not a really aggressive person. I prefer to work happily with my horse and not be fighting with them. This has also made me less demanding with Roxy. Now, I have to turn up the intensity and demand she do what she is being asked to do. The hope is that she will fight, realize it's not going to change and give up. As Mary said " there is a reason submission is on dressage tests." She is going to be worked pretty hard over the next few days, using the same exercises we used last night and we will see how she responds.
In thinking back about this we did have an issue with trailer loading this summer. She didn't want to and was quite offended when I INSISTED she get her butt in. After a few hard fought battles she loads very well again. I am hopeful that this will turn out that same way.