Unpacking the tantrum aka green horses are hard

Nay Nay looking at an arena full of jumps
Saturday was GORGEOUS riding weather

I’ve been struggling to blog lately. I’m not entirely sure why. Partially it’s due to health, I mean, everything is always due to health, but no one is reading this blog to hear me talk about chronic migraine and chronic vestibular migraine. But that’s all been in full force and I’ve felt like crap.

But it’s more than that. I just don’t know where I am riding wise? I’m in this new phase which, quite frankly, isn’t a lot of fun.

Things go great and then all of a sudden SOMETHING sets Nay off. A jump. A place in the arena, a horse in the field, being asked to move forward. And he has a fit and basically says, “No way in hell, bitch!” There is squealing, there is crow hopping, there is antics, but never, at any point, is Nay ever actually TRYING to get me off his back. Mostly, he’s aiming to STOP the forward motion. Somehow he’s gotten my number. Scare tactics work. Crow hopping temper tantrums when he’s tired and DONE working are his way of trying to get out of further work. I MUST have stopped at some point and walked to collect myself?

Nay Nay between the ears
Despite his antics, he’s always willing to go out and work

This all started a few weeks? A month or 2 ago? Sometime this summer. We had an amazing ride the day before and jumped EVERYTHING in arena. Literally. I cantered the entire course. Even the jumps that scared the shit out of me. He carted me over everything. The next day, I didn’t want to jump him, but I was planning to do my normal flat ride and jump 2 or 3 jumps just because I tend to pop over a fence or 2 most rides. We’re talking mostly 2ft. I cantered our easy 2ft fence and decided to do the “scary” 6 stride line which was a touch larger, but NOTHING hard. I didn’t ride to jump 2 and Nay said no. I rode back and actually rode. He decided he didn’t have to and stopped. We had some antics and I actually put on “Oh shit, I’m teaching my horse to stop” pants and smacked him and he jumped, landed, did a full change, we cantered back over and all was good.

Nay Nay and the "evil" yellow jump
The jump that caused issues for 2 lessons

Flash forward, we’ve had a touch of “Bully-behavior” since. Most notably, the damn left lead and that awful lesson. That said, the lead has been SOLID since. Both leads actually. I fought, I won. He’s fought the trailer a touch, but again, he’s at the trailer, he gets the F on. And he does. Sometimes he just takes 90 seconds vs 2 seconds. And after it took 90 seconds 2 days in row, I added a chain and now we’re back to 2 seconds (I’d practice at home but at home it is NOT an issue — we load all day every day). So, the answer is taking no shit the first time.

So, prior to the my most recent lesson, we had a jump issue creep up at this yellow fence. He was amazing all lesson and then we approached this random fence and he started crow hopping. Once he realized that he had to jump the fence even if he was crow hopping towards it, he ultimately stopped. So, after the lesson, we practiced circling and bending up in the corner towards that jump (SO MUCH WORK AND GROWNING) and then the jump was his reward for so much damn flat work. Never had one issue with the fence. He did try it the second day we tried this exercise at a different fence (previous day this behavior didn’t even crop up), but I was able to keep squeezing him forward much more easily than with the yellow fence. After 2 approaches he maintained his gait and all was well.

Nay Nay standing in front of a paddock
Sometimes he’s lucky he’s handsome…

Which brings us to the last lesson. Once again, he was PERFECT. Flat work, cantering a fence on a circle in both directions, etc. We worked on a bending line/rollback to the left and again, lovely. Then we reversed the direction and first jump, fine, second? the damn tantrum. Now, the fence was the SAME fence that we had issues with (same direction) way back this summer, but like 18″/2′ high. The first time I had to circle back, the second few times felt wildly out of control, and then we broke to a trot (but the trot was lovely). Then I we maintained a canter, but I involved too much hand… I finally found the right rhythm and we got it, but damn, this is hard!

Ultimately I can tell that part of it is mental (I was THINKING about the jump), part of it is just a random jump that Nay decides to just have a freaking tantrum. We need to push through it as he WILL get over it when I force him over. It’s not the jump. He has no concern about jumps. He is crazy brave over fences and doesn’t give a shit if I catch him in the mouth (SORRY!) though I’m pretty good about being consistent with my release. But, these baby antics are definitely something I’m learning from!

Nay Nay resting his head on a saddle rack
Heads are hard to hold up…

On a different note, we did switch his bit from a d-ring to a 3-ring elevator about a week, week and a half ago. My trainer requested the bit change as she wasn’t thrilled with his drag and drop antics at times. He’s light in your hand…until he’s not. So, we’d ask for him to halt and he’d pull you down. Then if you asked him to back, you’d have to back and lift. Having the leverage is nice when I need it, but I’m trying SO HARD to be vigilant of where my hands are and what they’re doing. Honestly? Nay doesn’t care about the bit. I may still try a happy mouth version to see if he prefers that and I do want bit guards, but knowing Nay, THAT will be what he objects to…

ROOTD
No riding photos, but here’s my ROOTD.. crappy photo, but…

It’s funny, I’ll have had Nay for 2 years in December, but I feel like I’ve only really had him 100% healthy since March/April. He was sort of healthy last year after we solved the ulcer/soy issue. But he still wasn’t eating properly. At the end of March, I finally found a supplement that worked for ulcers AND feed that he’d eat and he’s fatter and fitter than ever. I’m riding an entirely new horse. And it’s HARD.

4 thoughts on “Unpacking the tantrum aka green horses are hard

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