I had quite a battle with Andy today ... I'm pretty sure I won though.
I haven't been able to work him as much lately - between the bad weather, my own lack of time, and the fact that I can't ride with my ankle being the way it is, he's been spending a lot of time in the paddock. I've been lunging him about twice a week, but the ground's very deep at the moment and there's horses grazing in the only good riding paddock, so I haven't been willing to work him too hard or do anything more than canter.
Today I got him ready to lunge. Put his saddle on, then I ran my hand over his withers and realized that with the girth done up tight, it presses him far too much in that area on either side of his withers. He was visibly concerned with the added bulk of my hand there, which leads me to think he's sore again. He's in a medium gullet English saddle but I think I'm going to need to go for a wide!
I put away the saddle and decided not to lunge him. We did some groundwork, he's getting very good at flexing his head when I ask him to! Then I thought I'd take him for a stroll around the paddocks, just to have something else to do I guess. I only had a little bit of time to spend with him.
When I took him out of his paddock, his head went up and he began to get excited. His stride got quick, he was blowing through his nostrils. He wasn't scared, just full of energy like a shaken up soda bottle and he was excited to be going somewhere. I'm not going to lie, I felt a little bit scared. We were in a narrow raceway between paddocks, and I didn't want to get into a fight with him in there.
After a few metres, I turned him to walk back to his paddock. He immediately began to barge and strike out with his forelegs (not at me, just like he was attempting a Spanish walk), angling his hindquarters in towards me and turning his head away from me. I was getting pretty scared, ok, because he was being unpredictable and I really thought he would kick me. We made it to the gate, I guided him through it, and turned to close it behind me, keeping a close eye on him the whole time. It was well that I did because he REARED, and he had the stubbornest look on his face, like "what's the holdup, hurry up, I want to go back now and you're slowing me down." That's when I realized that I couldn't take him back now. He was being one disrespectful ****e and I needed to deal with it right now.
I got my lunge whip and line and I sent him away. I was angry. The dominant kind of angry, that allows me to look a horse in the eye and do whatever it takes to get them to listen. Andy fought me. He turned his bum towards me and took off. I held on to the rope, leaning my weight back and yanking back with all my might. He was in a rope halter, and it probably saved my life. He yanked me forward, but with my weight and the added weight of my pulling, he couldn't drag me for more than a few strides. If it were a nylon halter, he would have been able to run right through the pressure, but he couldn't with the rope on his nose. I got his head around and tried again, and this time he went where I sent him, off around me at a canter with no boots on. Forget the mud; he was being a spoilt, dangerous horse and he needed a good lesson. Plus he had energy to burn. That was half the problem, he was a Thoroughbred, full of spring grass, and no outlet.
This played out again several times until he decided to be a good boy. I just want to add that his nose was ok, I'm not strong enough to break it! There were no rope burns on his face afterwards, either. My hands however are another story. Lesson learned, wear gloves! The nylon lunge rope tore my hands to shreds. :( I worked him until he got a sweat going, making him change directions often while on the go. After he stopped paying attention to the horse in the next paddock and began listening to me, I quit lunging. I wasn't satisfied though. I began backing him and making him yield his hindquarters round and round, both ways, until he would begin moving if I only looked at his hindquarters with purposeful intent.
I took him for a walk down the raceway again, back and forth, and he went as quiet as a lamb.
Sorry for the long post. Just thought I'd update you all with our progress! He's normally such a well-mannered guy, but I guess he's never really challenged me that way before. I'd say that most of the issue was his high spirits, but energized or no, it was unacceptable the way he was acting on the ground. I'll add pics next time, I promise!
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will finally know peace." - Jimi Hendrix