Today Ivy had a really tough day
- but I think it was for the best.
She has been giving laterally - I can ask her to give to her sides and she gives willingly both in rope halter and in her reins - but to this point, she would just NOT give vertically - she just didn't seem to understand I was asking her to relax her jaw and put her head down and bring her nose in when I pulled down and back on the lead. So today I pushed the issue.
I lunged her for about 20 minutes loosely bitted up, reins under her saddle leathers and tied on top of the saddle seat, and she was bracy, head up, mouth gaping - just very resistant. I had a dropped noseband, so put that on, but all that gained was more resistance. It just seemed she wasn't understanding that all she had to do was drop her head to get relief. So I tried plan B.
I took her reins, ran them between her front legs then up along her girth and tied them on top of the saddle, not tight, but not loose either. Then I hooked the lunge line to one bit ring (I don't have a round pen) and stepped back and asked her to walk forward. She put her head up, which put pressure on her mouth, which caused her to try to get her head up higher - which caused more pressure on her mouth.
She locked up, then reared and spun, so the lunge was basically useless as it was wrapped around her neck - then flipped herself over backwards hard. I let her get to her feet and asked her again, and again she tried to rear and spin, but I was ready and made sure to pull her head back towards me so she couldn't get the line tangled. She locked again and stood there, nose pointed to the sky, bit pulling her jaw down, eyes wide and panicked. I just stood off to the side, giving her encouragement, and let her figure it out. She took a tentative step forwards, then another, then FINALLY dropped her head which immediately took the pressure off her mouth. I swear, she was like - OHHHH, I get it now!!
I asked her to walk off and she put her head down by her knees and walked forwards, then I saw her mouth, red and raw
. It seems that when she flipped she ripped her mouth corners, probably pinched between the dropped noseband and snaffle. I told her to Whoa - then removed the noseband but asked her to trot a couple laps with the reins still on, and she gave to the pressure and moved forwards at both walk and trot. She took off at a canter, but kept her nose in and didn't fight the reins. She came back down to the trot at my voice command, then to the walk. She was gaping her mouth for most of the time, but then relaxed and moved around with her mouth closed, giving to the pressure of the reins.
We called it a day and I took her in, cleaned her mouth, sprayed it with some numbing antiobiotic stuff, and spent extra time grooming her. I then took her rope halter and asked for the lateral movement, which she gave to the pressure, then asked for the vertical and as I pulled down on the halter she dropped her nose immediately, which was met with lots and lots of praise and petting.
I hate that her mouth has sores on the corners, I hate that she flipped herself over... but she finally understands to give to pressure vertically, which is such an important step in her training.