Sunday, September 7, 2008


Lots of stuff to post today, but we'll start with Poppy.

So after my dressage lesson, I went to TSC. I tried to be good, really I did, but the most direct route to the horse stuff took me past the $5 clearance summer clothes. Thank god there wasn't much left in my size and I only bought a (warning: I am a redneck) John Deere girlie t-shirt. It has sequins! And a purple dressage whip, and a bone for Cersei who was patiently waiting in the truck. Total damage was under $20.

Then out to the field! I took a bunch of pictures - I'll link them in a post later, but the set is here for those of you who are curious about horses in a house.

Poppy was not thrilled about being ridden again. He was somewhat confused, actually, that we were doing the silly thing where I sit on him yet again! But he's a sweetheart so he went along with it. Stood nicely while I got mounted, stood nicely til I asked him to walk, and walked off like a gentleman. We went over near the house, then I asked him to walk away and he was all "what no way." I asked him again, thumping him a little harder with my heels. Then I smacked him with the dressage whip and his ears swiveled straight back to me like "HOLY SHIT" and he trotted off in the direction I wanted him to go. I wasn't asking for a trot, but I didn't correct him for it.

We circled around down by the pond, then walked back to the house and stood for a minute. Then I asked and squeezed and he ignored me. I asked and thumped and he ignored me. I asked and whacked and he got really pissy and bucked away from the house.

Poppy bucking is pretty hysterical. He never bucks more than two or three inches off the ground, and he never bucks with his front legs too - just little kicks with the rear legs. Bucking scares the piss out of me, but I just keep telling myself that if I get bucked off of Poppy I really don't have any business riding at all. I have ridden more jarring trots than his bucks.

Anyway, Poppy was clearly very annoyed that I was telling him what to do and he bucked away from the house. When he quit bucking I told him to keep walking and squeezed and he kept walking.

We made a bunch of little circles around trees and stuff near the house. I just wanted to work on "go where I want you to go, when I tell you to do it." He has that amazing green-horse ability to walk or trot in the direction he wants to go regardless of where his neck is pointed, but I persevered. He bucked once more, but I only had to whack him the first two times. He's not stupid and he obviously figured out that I only ask nicely twice before I whack. After I got two nice circles going where I wanted him to go, I called it quits.

I'm pretty sure it was the right point to quit. I was all jazzed up that he was figuring it out and started thinking of a nice clearing a couple hundred yards away we could go ride in and then I thought "why push it?" and decided to stop. He had done well and I think as long as I keep riding, I can't take it too slow. Ignoring him is taking it too slow, and doing nothing but groundwork is taking it too slow, but if I'm actually riding him, we'll get where we need to be eventually. So I quit while we were ahead.

Poppy huffed off as soon as I took off his tack, but within 5 minutes he'd forgiven me and was back in my face begging for attention. I scrithed him for a bit and told him I'd be back later and took off.

I'm still very interested to hear yall's comments about him. Am I doing right? What do I do to fix the gumby-neck trotting sideways thing? Just ignore it? Sara, what does Leeandra think?

Anyway, there is an equine chiro coming tonight and I'm going to get him to look at Dixie. There's nothing obviously wrong with her, but I would be surprised if she's not a little messed up from all the bad riding she's endured and the pads she wore for a year. So I'm headed back out to the field later this evening.


  1. I spent all weekend with the horses, so I didn't have time to post about your question yet. It looks like I don't need to?

    I went the dressage whip route with Peanut too. He took just a tap (really only a touch) and he'd move on. After a small amount of time, all I had to do was carry a whip and he respected my cues.

    I do have to say that since I got a new saddle and moved next to Fair Hill things have changed. I have impulsion now. We were gaiting all over the woods today, and it took minimal effort from me. I mainly blame it on the old saddle. Well, that and I think he really hated working in the ring.


  2. Sounds like you've got it right to me. This is a young horse and you don't want to overface him -- take it slow. One of my favorite Clinton Anderson sequences includes him talking about bucking. Basically he doesn't call it bucking until the nose is on the ground and there is squealing involved -- anything else is just cow kicking. All done in that Aussie cowboy accent, which makes it pretty funny. Whatever you call it, good on you for riding it out. The best thing you can do at this point is pretend that it didn't happen both in your mind and in the way you're handling your horse. He will grow out of that soon enough.

  3. If you think to ask her, Sara, I would love to hear what she thinks about him. It's pretty clear that I still don't really know what I'm doing! It's just that I won't figure it out by not doing SOMETHING.

    DP, the Poppy bucks are really pretty funny. It's obviously just a minor temper tantrum, and I really think he'll grow on out of it in time.


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