Today was the worst ride of my life. I have not started hundreds of horses, but, I've prided myself with starting horses 'right' with the ones that I have. When I get on a horse for the first time, it doesn't buck or misbehave. I don't have horses that rear, buck, etc.
But today, the same mare that I use for pony rides, gave me quite a ride. This mare has a phenomenal trot, and, she has some work to do on the canter. Mostly collection, leads, and consistency, although she had bucked 2x before, when getting into the canter. In those instances, we've pushed right through it without thinking twice or looking back.
Today, she bucked CONSISTENTLY. She was stopping with attitude, and I pulled her in tons of circles because she looked like she was thinking about going UP. In fact, she did a mini rear once. I've NEVER had a horse of mine rear!!!!
It was unreal. Head tossing. Bucking. Refusing to move forward. After a small victory (a canter transition without bucking, and I whoa'd her before she could screw it up), I went BACK to the lunge line, and, when I cantered her there, she was kicking out her hind legs as if she had her tail stuck in her hiney and was trying to get it out. Everyone has seen that happen before, right? That would have explained her behavior, but, no stuck tail. Kicking out with both legs when I cantered her on the lunge line...she has never done this before!
This is a nice mare that has never behaved marishly. But, I haven't been riding her consistently until now. I was on vacation last week...you would have thought she would have been refreshed after her week off!?
Here is all I can come up with:
1.) I am marking this day from hell on my calendar, to see if there is any mare-ish patterns. She is not in heat today. But, not sure what her cycle is, and if she is about to go into heat...? Perhaps the two other times she has bucked, over the last 2 years, have related to this? You would have thought I would have had a similar experience prior to this, though, if this were the case....?
2.) After the first time she bucked 2 years ago, I thought (she also had a 'funny' way of going at the canter that made me suspicious), that maybe she needed an adjustment. My farrier agreed, and thought that she looked 'funny'. Had a chiropractor out, and she immediately started moving better, and didn't buck again until 1x a couple of months ago. Perhaps she has an underlying discomfort? She did seem a little 'sensitive' when I brushed her before tacking up. But, she is looking quite round and collected (what bucking horse doesn't , and sound.
3.) Her teeth where just floated, and she is sound in her way of going. What other underlying discomfort might there be? Any ideas?
4.) She is normally out to pasture almost 24/7, but I kept her in this morning, knowing that I was going to squeeze in a ride. Found a free moment (while 2 year old was napping) to lunge her mid day. She seemed unhappy when I lunged her, but I had a rope halter on her for the first time, so I chalked it up to that. I took the halter off, and free lunged her, and she seemed happier. Left her out for about an hour in the paddock to graze after that. Didn't ride until after dinner, so she was in most of the day. Perhaps more stall time than she is used to? Does she really need THAT much turn out time/exercise? If that is the case, I am going to have to change her feed or something...how will she handle going to the shows, and being in the night before? But, at this rate, our show plans are not looking good anyway.
4.) Neoprene pad (no spot for a burr or anything to be stuck) on a blanket. Cool enough out, and slightly windy, so no bugs. The wind wasn't too bad/spooky, or I wouldn't have ridden. So, I don't think it is a tack or bug problem.
What am I not thinking about? How does a horse go from willing, a quick learner, and sweet, to THIS in one day/ride? It crossed my mind that someone had tried to ride her while I was away on vacation, and screwed her up, but, seriously, my horse/house sitter wouldn't have done that, and, I'm just thinking crazy now. Would love any feedback if you've ever had an experience like this before!!
The 'good' note I ended on was merely cantering her from center ring, into a corner, and stopping her. I didn't even get a full canter circle out of her without bucking. I tried that, and she started to buck again. So, back to cantering into corner from center ring, and ended with that. I REALLY just hope she is back to normal at my next ride, and that we never have to go through this again. But, it wasn't exactly behaving very well at the end of our ride, so, I've afraid I have my work cut out for me. Any thoughts and ideas are appreciated. You can bet I will go back to some of the basics for a couple rides before even trying to canter her again. I guess that's what happens when you are getting older and a mother of 3 young boys. I've lost my nerve. If she keeps it up, I'll have to send her to someone with more guts than me...this is not my idea of fun (anymore .