So the sanctuary has lesson horses and other horses in training to become lesson horses, and then we have all kinds of old horses or horses with permanent disabilities that just live out their lives there.
Yesterday I was working with one of our horses in training and I had never ridden him before. He is a beautiful bay haflinger cross, I'm not sure how old he is, but probably not older than 10.
He is really a dream to ride at a walk and a trot, turns on a dime and backs smoothly, and stands calmly until asked to walk on (even if you are fiddling with stirrups and such, which I was doing). I've been told he even has a beautiful floaty looking extended trot. But I was working on his collected trot, because that is what we really need for the lessons. He has a tendency to pick up speed. After working on the trot I brought him back down to a walk and walked around the arena a few times then wanted to try a collected canter. I was told he has trouble at this point, but I wasn't sure the extent of it.
So I picked up a trot then asked for the a collected canter and he put his head down and started to pull through it, as soon as I responded by asking him to slow back down to a walk he started the bucking.
I was sure I was going to come off at first, it's been many many years since I've been on a horse that pulled something like this. But as soon as I relaxed and went with it I became confident I was going to stay on and we were halfway across the arena when I finally got him to stop, I also forcefully yelled 'stop it' which I think startled him a bit. But I had him do a tight circle and then returned to the wall at a walk. He had a bit of an attitude when we got back along the wall and wanted to trot but I kept him at a walk and eventually he calmed back down.
I'm told that he is fine if you let him go at his own speed when asking for something faster than a trot, but that just won't do for lessons, we need him to do a collected canter. If he had his way it would be something near a gallop.
I think he is just young and has picked up some really bad habits from the kids that volunteer around the sanctuary that have ridden him in the past. His ground manners when trying to get one him are pretty bad. He grabs and mouths at everything. He is pushy and wants to walk behind you and push you, and he tries to nip at you when you get on from the ground. And he doesn't like to walk up to the box that the students use to get on and off (we teach natural horsemanship, riding without stirrups). So he needs a lot of work there too. But like I said he is push button at a walk and trot.
But what this post is really about is the fact that I stayed on for half an arena of bucking. I would have never thought that I would have been able to do that being plus sized in an english saddle. I don't know why, maybe because I do feel a little off balance still at times when riding. I had to force my self to stop thinking about it and to just go with it and that seemed to make all the difference. I've been pretty proud of my self since accomplishing that . But not only that I feel a little more confident riding now, I kind of feel like I've bounced back to how I used to feel when riding. To top it off I feel confident enough to ask him a second or third time to canter next time, instead of just asking him the one time like I did (I did walk him out and ended on a good note with asking him to back about a dozen steps). I think he really does need the repetition of me asking for a canter and then bringing him back down to a walk when he doesn't give me what I want.