Gonna try to keep this short but I want all the important details in here, so it will likely end up a long "story"....
We sent Gracie back to her other owners today bc while riding Chili yesterday, my daughter was walking in the pasture and Gracie kicked her. Not hard but enough to cut and bruise her elbow and make her cry. Not enough to strike fear. Anyway.
I'd already decided to ride Chili today bc the weather promised to be gorgeous. WINDY but warm. When Gracie left, Chili whinnied quite a bit, which is unusual for her bc she is not very vocal.
MORE BACKGROUND: The other day, I tested out the English saddle and loved it. 2nd time I used it, not as much - it kept pinching my leg and I think it's bc I wasn't wearing high boots or anything to protect my lower leg(?) No problems riding Chili bareback after taking the saddle off (she seemed to have issues with it that day). Western saddle again and she bucked during a canter. Assume it's because the saddle is a little long for her short back. But I was able to measure the Circle Y saddle her prev owner (we're becoming friends) uses and this saddle I'm testing out is actually 2" shorter, so didn't think that was the problem. Chili had never been ridden in a back cinch, so thought maybe that might be the issue, so loosened it.
BACK TO TODAY:
Tacked her up - Western. Back cinch on but loose - enough so that it should not have been rubbing but snug enough that it was useful. Didn't ride her in the arena like I usually do, this time took her around the pasture. W/T fine. Canter - 2 strides and as soon as I applied pressure to steer her into a turn, she bucked me off. I was a little surprised, my pride was hurt but I got back on - well, was going to but thought maybe the cinch was too tight so I loosened it. This time, no rubbing at all, just there. I walked her to the other pasture and stopped at my hubby who'd come outside. He saw the back cinch, and took it all the way off - Only reason I'd even left it attached was bc I didn't have anywhere to put it at the time. Stupid. But anyway. Cinch off. Walked her to the front gate and felt like the saddle was slipping so hopped off and adjusted it. Opened the gate and walked her into the corn field. She's a little barn sour and I thought if we were a little away from the house/barn, she'd feel better.
She kept wanting to GO, I had to keep the reins tight and hated doing it. She's in the bosal - I don't like to apply any pressure unless I'm asking her to do something. Any release of the pressure today, though, seemed to give her the go-ahead to trot. Because I wanted to see the terrain, make sure there were no holes in the filed, etc, I kept her at a walk. She blew her nose, made funny noises (normal for her but funny nonetheless) and we walked the entire row - about 2 football fields?
Get to the end and I turn her around, start walking back. This is all a straight shot - a good distance from the house/barn but not too far away. About 1/4 of the way down the row, I gave her the go ahead to trot. She did fine. No urging needed to canter and she was fine - 2 strides in, she charges into a full gallop without me saying ok. I pull back just a little to get her to slow back to a canter instead of running and the moment I did, she bucked and off I went. How my face hit, then my backside then my head, is beyond me, but that's how I remember it. Scared the piss outta me bc when I got up, I couldn't walk straight. No double vision or blurriness, but man, was I loopy!!!! Hubby scared the crap outta him - he just saw loose horse and took off runnin' toward me. I yelled, told him I was fine (I had no idea if I was or not TBH) and to get Chili (who'd crossed the road and was in the neighbor's yard. He caught her.
I managed to walk back to the barn and he met me with her in tow. We walked back to the pasture and I made sure he understood that as shook up as I was and as upset as he was, I STILL Had to get back up or she'd think it was ok to keep doing it. This time, however, I untacked her and rode her bareback. Between the time she threw me and the time I got back up, was probably 20 minutes? Maybe a little less.
Walked her around a few minutes to get a feel for her and to let her know I was in control (so I thought), trotted her. Smooth - I love her trot. Asked her to canter - 2 strides and WHAM, I hit the ground again.
Now. The following was instinct and if I made a mistake, I dunno. The people I've been around recently all seem to employ this method and I was literally at my wit's end trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with her! She's NEVER done this except for the ONE time she bucked in that saddle.... I treated the bosal just like a stud chain or rope halter. Stood in front of her and yanked down on the reins about 3 times. Told her this was NOT the way she was supposed to act and to stop it. Put the reins over her head, walked her back to the mounting block (which by the way, she has been doing GREAT at!!!) and got back on again. (with effort as my body was whooped!)
Walked. Slow trot. And I just gave her a little lead, no urging for the canter and she bucked again. This time, I figured if her head was up, she couldn't get her butt up too, so I pulled back on the reins enough to get her head up just before I went over - and ended up practically sitting on her head!! But she didn't get me off.
I then took her around the pasture for about 30 minutes at made her walk the entire time. She kept tugging - ready to go. I had to keep the reins tight. I HATE that.
I dunno if it was me keeping at it, the yanking incident or her giving up but although she fought my hands, she listened to EVERYthing I did. Instead of trying to go to the barn, she easily moved to the right. Instead of side stepping the mud (she hates it), she went through it without hesitation. Instead of trying to cut across the pasture, she listened and walked up, right, across, right, repeat.... Even when I took her back to the barn and she wanted to trot, I kept her at a walk and we went right past the barn - no problems.
Nothing broken. But my hands are sore, I had a slight headache (gone now!), bruised below my knee, my neck is murder, my lower back is murder and face hurts - other than that, I'm wonderful. LOL
CHILI, on the other hand, I'm not so sure about. I called the previous owner. Told her what happened. She said even when she broke her, she didn't buck or rear.
I wonder if it's the saddle and now that she's bucked in the saddle at a canter (or faster), she's "thinking" she should buck at a canter, regardless of how she's ridden????
I will not say I'm scared of my horse, bc I'm not. If it weren't windy at dark, I'd go out right now and ride her. However. I am leery of riding her at anything faster than a trot and PETRIFIED of being thrown again. I'm too old for this sh*t! Seriously.
So, I wonder, if it's not the saddle - is she pissed bc we took Gracie away or could it be because of the weather? It was windy earlier but not awful. I mean, we flew a kite in the wind without having to run with it to start it - and it was too windy to keep it afloat, it kept nose diving after a minute or so. NOW, it's REALLLLLLY windy. 40mph or more windy. Could she have seen it coming and didn't like it?
Could it be the bosal - could the pressure I'm applying at a canter be the issue? If so, wouldn't she STOP instead of buck or go faster???? I ask only because the 2 biggest bucks were when I tried to turn her while cantering and she bucked me off (1st time) and when she broke the canter and galloped and I pulled back. I know I didn't yank. I wasn't scared or frightened. I simply leaned back and pulled my hands into my body more. I'm sure a video would be most excellent for this but darned if I'm not happy there isn't one! I dont' think I could watch being tossed like a sack of potatoes onto the ground!
Could she have just forgotten how to canter with a rider on board? In 2010, she'd only been ridden once. (other than me riding her around the yard for about 15 minutes, which I do not consider RIDING). This year... this past month, I've ridden her, in the arena or pasture, at least - 3 times/week. Sometimes more.
Her prev owner suggested putting her on a lunge line and loping her. But what happens if she bucks then? Do I lunge her with the saddle or without or both?
If I lunge her and it doesn't seem to fix the problem, I'm calling a trainer. I can't afford to be thrown and get injured worse than I am now. Bumps and bruises and a possible concussion are one thing. Broken bones are a different matter entirely.
Just FYI, she was GREAT on the ground - THE ENTIRE TIME. Except for when she threw me at the gallop, she stood right in front of me after dumping my ass onto the ground. Never rmoved. Just looked at me, like - "Hey, why are you down there?"
Suggestions/comments welcome. <ducking for yanking on her nose>