Canter & Candor

Canter and Candor; an honest account of an amateur equestrian and her life with an OTTB

Sneakiness, Soreness, and Saddles…

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… oh my.

Over this past week, three things have cropped up.

  1. C is a sneaky poo.
  2. C is a sore, sneaky, poo.
  3. C is a difficult-to-fit, sore, sneaky, poo.

A bit arbitrary, a bit quirky, you’re thinking? Explanations follow.

1. C is a sneaky poo.

a cute, sneaky, poo

a cute, sneaky, poo

As I see it there are a few types of misbehavior in horses. The most prominent that I see are Exuberant Misbehavior and Passive Misbehavior.

Exuberant Misbehavior pretty much explains itself. BBS’s horse, G, is a fairly good example of it– celebratory leaps, little bucks, along those lines of things. He is also a very talented baby horse.

I have ridden this kind of horse before (Danny, if you’ve read my Two-Legger page) and honestly? It’s not fun in the moment. It sucks to force a bolting horse back to the walk, it sucks to ride a series of bucks, and it sucks to sit through refusal after refusal. But the issue can be addressed when it crops up, typically– it doesn’t sneak up on you.

Passive Misbehavior is another monster, and it’s C’s preference. There was a buildup before the naughtiness was noticeable, where I felt him falling into a frame and thought, “Okay. He’s leaning on me a bit but he hasn’t built up that much muscle, so it’s okay.” And more and more, each ride, he would lean deeper until I was basically holding him up. Was he using his own muscles at all? No, not really. Was he being a sneaky poo? Yes.

I didn’t notice, frankly, until I started doing a little more work at the canter. I felt him drag straight down into my hands and when I noticed that, it was easier to notice it happening at the trot and walk. Not to mention that it seemed his brakes were entirely broken at the canter, which hadn’t been a problem in the past. He sped through half-halts, dragged on my hands, and got strung-out and flat until we may as well have been on the racetrack (at a canter, but regardless).

T is gone for 3 weeks so I spoke to assistant trainer (A) about what I’d been experiencing. Within 3 minutes of watching me ride she could identify the problem: C had literally trained me to hold him up into a frame– so it wasn’t even a frame, it was reliance– and had decided he was in charge at the canter. And this was all very problematic because the escalation of these problems would, in two or three months, lead to a large, muscular, monstrous four-year-old.

So, we nipped it right in the bud. The lesson was productive, but it wasn’t pleasant. It worked, but it didn’t make me feel happy. That’s OK: some things need to be addressed. As folks at the barn keep reminding me, respect first, friends second. C may not appreciate this sentiment, but it definitely factored in here. By the end of the lesson, C was learning where to carry his neck and head on his own, and that the proper response to a deep, heavy seat and pressure from the reins was slow down or halt, depending on the degree of the cues. And he was using his own muscles. Which brings us to

2. C is a sore, sneaky, poo.

but a stylish, sore, sneaky, poo!

but a stylish, sore, sneaky, poo! ft. more average braiding

On Monday, C was sore. I chalked it up to jumping in the derby, since we don’t do much jumping at home. On Thursday, he was somewhat sore so we switched to a new saddle. On Friday, he was still sore, and today, still sore. Poor sore pony. So I’m giving him the next two days off (he already had Saturday and today off) in the hopes it’ll give his back muscles time to recover and relax.

This makes me sad. It makes me sad because it means I haven’t done well enough by him to prevent his soreness, and it also makes me sad because I can’t in good conscience continue with training and reinforce the good habits we were trying to re-teach him on Friday. It’s a setback but it’s for the best, so I’m trying to be positive. In the meantime, I will likely torture him with more braiding and pampering.

Oh yes– I have been beautifying C all this week. Evidence below.


clip left side

first clip for me AND C– not too shabby!

As evidenced by the photos, C has a flat back. Which brings us to

3. C is a difficult-to-fit, sore, sneaky, poo.

Some horses have nice, slightly curved backs that fit a lot of saddles. Right now, C has a flat back, meaning most saddles look like rocking chairs on him. This is (obviously) not a good thing and has been the source of some of the soreness. Two saddles down, lots to go, I’m sure. But please keep your fingers crossed that the right saddle comes along soon for us so further issues with the trifecta of deadly S words will no longer be a problem.

In other news, I may have contracted the plague, so perhaps these days off have come at a good time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go braid the crap out of my horse’s tail (perhaps literally?) and lament all of my big kid problems.

— M


One thought on “Sneakiness, Soreness, and Saddles…

  1. Pingback: 2016 Resolutions and Goals | Canter & Candor


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