Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Tampa Bay area, FL
caught in the middle.....
So this stems off of one of Riosdad's posts, about spurs, whips, crops.....basically aids in addition to your legs and your seat. So heres the story.
MY gelding is an 11 year old OTTB. He was on the track from early 2000 to April of '08....thats a long time for any horse, considering the other OTTB's i've run in to that were on the track for one year or two. I know he has certain behaviors hardwired into his system, since that's what he was trained to do, that's what he knows how to do. He is very gate sour in our arena, which is rodeo sized so its quite large. If I want to work with him without a fuss, we can only work in the back half of the arena, which is also where our small jump course is located. Anything closer and he gets it in to his head that we're really supposed to be going towards the gate, and the fighting ensues. He tosses his head, we spin, we back up, we side pass....but he never rears or anything like that. If I give him what he wants and we go to the gate, I can usually detour him to under the awning where our mounting blocks are, and then back out into the arena.
Because I had been using a crop this past week as kind of a "shoo stick" to get his respect, mostly in his stall when there was hay on the ground, I decided that I would just try it and see if he was as responsive to it in the saddle. Well, he was. I tapped him on the shoulder a few times when he was being stubborn and he would go without question, which was so exciting for me after having an unruly horse! He was also much more willing to get up into a trot with me sitting (usually I have to shift my weight out of the saddle for him to start trotting), but then he didn't necessarily want to stop, and I could feel him preparing to break into a canter. I of course slowed him down, but he still felt antsy, I had to actually say "walk" for him to relax, when previously just shifting my weight deep into the saddle would work to slow him down. He also started tossing his head when I would ask him to whoa.
So my question is, do I keep the crop and the responsiveness it brings, or will that just send him back to his days at the track? I'm wondering if what I felt as him moving into a canter was actually him extending his trot---since we usually only trot for a short time, his strides are short. Should I let him go and see what happens? Keep in mind I ride him in a hackamore, trying to ride him in a bit is absolute murder.