PostHeaderIcon Emotional Fitness Challenge – Whoa is Stonger than Go

Remember the meltdown last fall with Lucky?  We were in day 2 of the cow clinic Because of his refusal to move out when asked, I was nearing my breaking point.  This is the 2nd afternoon.  Lucky and I can’t  be counted on herding the cow, stopping the cow, or anything for that matter.  I tell him to move to block the cow and we don’t even twitch.  Plus, I haven’t been able to go fast much of two days.  When I don’t get to move beyond a slow walk for two days, I sort of go insane inside.  This is also why I can’t stand to go on pretty trail rides on narrow twisty forest trails with many stream crossings etc…because I never get to go fast.  I have a breaking point.

So, on the meltdown on that day two of the cow clinic, Tony described me as becoming emotionally violent and physically effective.  I made Lucky move.  We even cantered around the arena.  Then we went into the herd and pushed out a cow.  I learned a lot that day.

I took my learning with me to the group lesson last Saturday.  I’ve not rode Lucky since late December.  He’s had a lot of time to resume his poor work ethic and dominance attitude.  We were in an arena.  Lucky doesn’t see the point of moving.  On this day, our job was to do the barrel pattern in the far end of the arena, go to the rail and zip around the arena back to the barrel pattern again.  The first step we took toward the first barrel was “argue”.  Lucky told me he didn’t want to be in the far end of the arena and he certainly didn’t want to circle around the barrel…until we headed the direction of the exit gate.

People at the lesson (who have never seen me ride him in an arena) told me Lucky is so cute and sweet.  They ask me what the trouble is I’m having with such a cute friendly horse.  I tried to explain about his arguing.

Lucky and I had made it around the barrel pattern and we whizzed to the gate end of the arena (Lucky’s new favorite place).  Lucky tells me he doesn’t want to go past the gate.  I’m squeezing him on with my legs and life up body.   One of the people who thought Lucky was cute and sweet said, “he looks like he’s doing great,  what’s the problem with him?  I don’t see any problem.”  I asked  ”Do you see his ears flat against his neck?  Do you see his tail twitching?”  ”Oh, yes, the person said.  My focus and body language had been diverted when explaining what Lucky was doing.  At that moment, Lucky tried to get closer to the gate and succeeded in ramming my leg into the fence.  (Later, I found that skin had been scraped off my knee.)  ”Oh my, he is stubborn said the person.  Lucky’s “cuteness” disguise had disappeared and the real Lucky had been revealed.

My desire is to have Lucky canter when I ask (in an arena).  Lucky doesn’t have that same desire at all unless it’s out in a wide open field or going up a steep rocky trail of a trail ride…or going through a muddy gulch.  Occasionally, I can get him into the canter when I go around the short end of the arena.  The lesson was coming to an ending point when I asked him to canter once too many times.  My frustration was evident.  Jenny had “the talk” with me about pushing Lucky when he is tired.  Jenny then “helped me” get Lucky to canter around the corner and I leaped off and rubbed him when his legs fell out of the canter
I don’t know that I will ever ride in a versatility class or reining class with Lucky Star. He has to canter when I ask and keep cantering until I say slow.  That’s what makes him so fun to ride.  He is a puzzle challenge. Lucky is an emotional fitness challenge.

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