Driving A Barge

I never, very seldom, get to actually ride Rusty. I can get a good session of ground work and tricks in in the time it takes me to lug my saddle out and put it on. And the effort involved! Today I did it though. I had a pretty new saddle pad I wanted to try and the weather was perfect. We did a little bitty bit of ground work, something new we’re working on and a bit of basketball. He likes it and it gets his mind working.

Basketball did not work. He was not in the mood. We never did get the ball through the hoop and he wasn’t having fun. I got on and we headed off down the driveway. He wasn’t charging ahead and wanting to go like usual. We worked on stuff a little bit along the way. I was reminded of how bad I’ve let his turns on the hindquarters get. At the end of the drive I asked for a canter in the corner of wheat stubble. He gave me the left lead beautifully, and immediately dove towards home. I picked his inside shoulder up and put him back on a circle. It wasn’t a smooth relaxed canter but I couldn’t believe the way I was flopping about in the saddle. My seat is gone. It’s very sad. After two laps I sat, he stopped. It was all good.

Then we started going to the right. First at a trot. Then I asked for canter. He picked up the left lead. Over and over again. I tried to keep him calm, lots of walking, not trotting faster and faster into the canter. It wasn’t working. Nothing felt right. I, finally, took a step back. I asked for haunches in at a walk on the circle. He felt like riding a barge. Nothing moved and what did was heavy and cumbersome.  We kept taking steps back. Leg yield on a straight line? Not really. Turn on the fore quarters? Not even that by this point. he had done it great on the way out.

Tossing any thought of cantering away, we went back to the beginning. The driveway on the way home was perfect for leg yields. And the corn field on the side made for a wonderful treat when I clicked him 😉  Beginning with one tiny step. Then trying to curve him into the side step. Then haunches in. His head stayed bent away from the direction of bend I was asking for. An attempt at light contact on the reins had his head curled under and his breath panting. I dropped the reins altogether. Trying for no contact now other than a slight pull to the right asking him to look ahead. I’m the one who needs trained, not him. Or, not just him at least. I always want contact and I need to let it go, relax and let them have their heads.

We got home and I let him go. Instead of the high brought on by a good ride I felt frustrated and defeated. We had made good progress. He had moved away from my leg a few time. It just wasn’t great and then we finished by still not being able to make a basket. He got to go graze in the yard. I had to go do house work.

After school got out both children and I played in the yard still enjoying the beautiful weather. The sound of hoof beats thundering into the yard made me spin around, just in time to see Rusty running up frantically. He looked around as he came, searching. When he saw me he ran to me sighing in relief. That felt pretty good. I took him to the gate and let him back into his pen. Coyote came over and they both got an apple just cause. Something was still not right though. Rusty took his with his head cocked and kept rubbing it on his leg. Then they snorted and pawed at their noses like they do with nose flies and took off, bucking and kicking. Something was not right for sure. What ever bug, and there were lots of them floating about like dust motes, was bothering them I’m glad it didn’t cause all the kicking and bucking while we were riding!


It was only one ear of corn! They’ll never miss it.

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