Acting like a jerk at the end of a lesson — temper tantrum or something else?
(Yikes, I'm sorry my posts are always so long!)
Hello! Sammy and I started with a new trainer and had our second lesson today.
(Background: Had my 10-year-old for 10 weeks; before that he was a pasture pet for two years and a family trail horse before that. Since I got him, we haven't done a ton of work because of a lameness bout and my general reluctance to move too fast.
So back to today. We had a really great lesson working on slowing and speeding the walk and trot, bending, yielding, disengaging, etc. Then right as we were about to finish, we were trotting a circle at the far end of the arena from the gate and when it came time to bend back toward our end he cut right (out of the circle). He's done that before around feeding time (today it wasn't), but it usually just requires some leg and one rein to correct. But today he did it again the next time around the circle and flat-out refused to move forward in the direction I asked. I did my best but couldn't "win," so my trainer got on and really had to work him (she wasn't being rough with him, but she was really making him move his feet until he would move forward. His front feet left the ground once — I wouldn't call it a rear, but he was definitely putting up a fight. Then I got back on and he was better, but I still had to try for about 15 minutes before we got to the point where we could end on a good note.
1) We had been working for almost an hour, and I'm wondering if maybe he was sore. My trainer said he didn't look off and wasn't acting like she seemed to think he would if he was in pain, but I'm not sure.
2) Right before he started acting up, his friends entered the ring (two girls on their horses we sometimes trail ride with)
3) The direction he refused to move was away from the gate, and the gate end of the arena was also where his friends were
4) Our lesson work was a lot more than what we usually do. What we did wasn't really physically strenuous, but mentally it was a lot more. I'd say if our previous routine was coloring with crayons while sitting, today was doing a jigsaw puzzle while walking in place.
My trainer thinks he might have been pushing back because he isn't used to working and the things we're working on are more than he's usually asked for. Does that make sense to you guys? Does this sound like overworked grumpiness, or would you be worried about pain?
It sounds like when the 'friends' arrived, the dynamics changed. My horse usually tries to test me more to see what he can get away with when others enter or leave the arena.
As long as you ended on a good note, that's what counts.
Maybe in future, keep training lessons under an hour. Quality is better than quantity.
Always check for pain, but a lot of horses will go "ahem, this is MY field time and you have never ridden me this long before?!"
Attention span, tiredness... The biggest thing to do, if it isn't pain related, is push through it. You don't have to spend another ten minutes on cantering, just move his feet.. Leg yield, change direction.. Let him know you are in charge. Duffy did this as she got fitter, and I very nearly went flying. She tried again on only one other occasion.
I doubt he was tired, and think he was being a spoiled brat. He was testing, and found out he was not going to win, which is good. He will most likely do this sometimes, after all, he would prefer to be a paddock potato.......working is HARD! ;-) I would strongly suggest that you listen to your trainer. You hire her for a reason, and stop second guessing her and yourself, and above all DON'T make excuses for the horse! Your list is classic...."poor little pooky......he must ache somewhere.....he must want his dinner....he wants his friends......Seriously. He gets 23 hours in the day to do what he wants. You get ONE, at most. He can do this even tho he thinks it will kill him.
Spoiled, testing you, pain would be a personality 180..
My horse does the same when other horses enter the arena, especially mares.
The minute they enter he stops paying attention to me and wants to do what he wants to do... afterall thats just their nature.
Everyday isn't going to be a win, and everyday can't end on a good note that just how it is...
I think you need to learn how to "get mad" not like furious and punching your horse in the face, but I'm saying recognizing bad behavior and putting a stop to it, like having your trainer get on him and move his feet. You don't ever want to get off bc you think that him refusing to move and not turning in a circle is because he all of a sudden got sore when two other horses entered the arena, because you just said it yourself in your own post.. he did this when his trail buddies came into the arena. Don't second guess yourself!
While I totally agree with not letting him get away with brattiness, I also think that insisting on an hour even though he's been doing very well after 45 minutes could sour him. Ending on a good note is so important, especially with a horse which never really did "school" work.
Let us know how he is today :)
You probably did too much. Horses can only do so much. You said that he normally 'colors with crayons' and you asked him to 'do a jigsaw walking in place' that's a pretty big leap of work. Slow it down and give him time to adjust. Try to read his body language. My horse will let me know when he's done long before he refuses to move and stops listening. I'm sure your horse did the same but maybe you didn't notice it or haven't learned how he tells you.
OP-yes you can have the trainer get on, but YOU will still have the same issues. YOU are the ONLY one who can solve those. Horses know the difference between "oh-trainer is on me-I better do this".....and "oh-this is my owner-she will give me a treat no matter, and if I do ABC I can intimidate her, and she will get off."
Thanks, everyone. I was hoping the responses would be like these. It wasn't that I didn't trust my trainer, I just wanted to hear if you'd had similar experiences because he surprised me a little by going from 0 to idiot so abruptly.
I did get back on after she got off and I didn't stop until I had him moving politely (and then I got right off). I know every ride can't be great, but ending at a positive point is important to me for one because I struggle with the leadership aspect of riding and can't afford to show I can be bossed around, and two because it just makes me feel good we end happily, whether it's because the whole session was good or because it went bad but we worked through it.
Bloo and Desert, I think you're right about it being a little much. We did about 20 minutes of ground work at the beginning of the lesson, so it's not like I worked the snot out of him, but that's still a lot more focus than I usually ask of him.
Frank and Nocturna, I'm definitely going to work on winning the spoiled battles and try to stop being so silly and overthinking everything. Of course I'll always pay attention to whether he might be in pain, but in situations where he just seems to be throwing his weight around, I really need to suck it up and not get bossed around.
I'm going out to the barn in a few hours, and I'm hoping he isn't sore. I'll let you know if decides to be a crankypants again ;)
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