Some great posts!!Another moment on the last ride- I know some people will think this is anthropomorphizing, but I swear to you that she pretended to have to scratch her nose to try to snatch the reins and turn for home. She is not a horse that has a problem with an itchy face (e.g., the Gypsy Vanner gelding I ride every now and then at the barn has a massive, hairy face and needs itch breaks when he starts sweating under his bridle). But she tried it a couple of times- she would act like she was in distress and just had to reach down to scratch, so when I took pity on her, she'd give her nose one swipe across the knee and then quickly try to snatch the reins. To me- that is thinking. It didn't work- and I think it's important it doesn't- but she had plans in that little horsey brain of hers!!
What devious plans your mare had...Halla also will "ask" me very nicely if she can stretch out her neck very low and long to loosen the muscles. I let her, and then every once in awhile she'll ask as usual, then snatch the reins and run, sometimes throwing a little hop at the beginning for good measure.
I think a big part of being a horseman is always struggling to achieve that balance. It seems to me I will always face the challenge of figuring out what is the best approach for this horse at this time.BSMS - There is a balance, and I struggle to achieve it. With Mia, I was actually too pushy. I didn't understand how deep seated her fears were and just assumed I ought to be able to push her on. Looking back, the best thing I could have done with her is teach her that when things got scary, I would dismount and take care of her. If I could have taught her that - and I think I could have if I tried - then I would always need to dismount with her far more than a regular horse. But in return, I think she would have gained confidence in me.
My personal opinion is that if you had dismounted more initially with Mia, it may not have translated into needing to dismount more than on a regular horse, after a time. Starting with Amore, the first couple of years I had to jump off so regularly I got very swift at it. It didn't seem like there was a choice, and it wasn't a question of boldness since when I did try to be bold I ate dirt. Yet this was the right approach for her, and over time it was not more common to dismount off her than other horses. She grew more bold. But Halla does not get more bold if I get off. Instead, I end up with a horse that is more difficult and dangerous to control, since I can't give her the speed, release and direction she needs to grow more calm.
There is another thread going on about a horse that bucks. Although I know very little about the situation, when the poster says the horse's behavior is worsening despite efforts to push the horse on and make the horse work harder if he bucks, then I have to believe that is the wrong approach. We do science experiments, and what makes the horse worse is wrong. There must be some other approach that will improve the horse, even if it is a slight improvement at first.
Something I learned from some riders who are very excellent and bold is that we should all give ourselves permission to have a "bad seat day," as my friend calls it. You understand that while normally you might gallop and jump over this or that, or face a noisy truck rumbling by on your horse, today is a "bad seat day." So you don't. You go slow, or walk around the obstacle, or hop off the horse. What I really believe is that sometimes our subconscious can pick up on something that is wrong, although we can't put a finger on it. It might just be that we are too tired to give proper focus and attention to safety. Or we might sense an undetectable odor that means our horse is stressed. Whatever it is, it can be prudent to take it easy or not ride on a "bad seat day."BSMS - If either Bandit or Bob is having a problem on a given day, then why not follow Hondo's advice? If something is genuinely bothering one member of the team, then "maybe try a little less?" And when a little less is OK, and one has built a "little less" as a firm foundation, try more when both are ready? Why do we, as riders and horse people, seem to insist on placing guilt on either our horse or ourselves? Yet I do it all the time...
Is it better to prove something - how tough you are or how brave, or is it better to escape injury and have a wonderful ride later in the week? And if we gives ourselves permission to have a "bad seat day," then our horses can have permission to have an off day sometimes as well.