Thursday, July 10, 2008

Working on Whoa

(Great image from the Carter Museum in Fort Worth: Charles M. Russell (1864–1926) Bucking Horse and Cowgirl, ca. 1925
Ink with transparent and opaque watercolor over graphite underdrawing on paper 1961.187)

Canyon is half Arabian. I don't know if that really has anything to do with the issue we've got going on, some people say it does, others say it's not.

That's one thing I've learned in the horse world. There are as many opinions as there are horses.

The "issue" is bucking.

You can find plenty of information on why a horse bucks, but I haven't found a whole lot of trainers interested in working on this issue. Part of the reason is the why.

Bottom line. Barring a pain issue (poorly fit saddle, back problem, hoof issue) or being young (Canyon is 10 so he's way too old to be still doing this nonsense), a horse bucks because of either fear or disrespect for the rider. Not too many trainers want to tell that to their clients. I think that may be because even if a trainer can work on the problem the question may remain - will this horse respect YOU? Sure, maybe the trainer will be able to get the horse to perform perfectly, but will your horse then say "Oh, here's that chick with the new boots. Yesh. I'm getting rid of her first chance I get."

Apparently it's not particularly personal thing with Canyon. He bucked with his previous owner (information I found out after the fact from other people who knew Leslie, his owner for 7 years. She, of course, neglected to mention this at all and sold him as a "good for a novice" horse. ah well). He has bucked with others on board. So I'm somewhat relieved that it's not all about me. It's a general bratty attitude.

Here's how it goes. All the other horses are running and so are you. You decide to slow down. Canyon hates the idea and BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK.

Or you are finishing up a ride. Someone starts to trot back to the gate. Canyon wants to do more than trot. You decide trotting is plenty. BUCK BUCK BUCK

A young horse freaks out right next to him and starts bucking. Canyon, a sensitive, low horse on the totem pole, FREAKS out. BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK (it was a long one).

The wind is blowing the fake barrels in a very scary way. (To be fair it was really really windy) Canyon FREAKS out BUCK BUCK BUCK.

So there are two scenarios. Fear and aggravation.

Every single time I've ridden through his bucks. He did toss Erin, our friend at the stables. She's okay, a little sore and now a little gun shy. But he hasn't "gotten away" with it, so to speak. Not only do we ride longer, I also then lunge him for good measure.

What's weird is that he's so good the rest of the time. He's got great ground manners. He neck reins and responds quickly to cues. He's good in the arena (except for that windy day with the scary barrel, but I saw it coming). He's even good on the trail 90% of the time.

But there's a line where he feels he's in charge. And the line is sort of tough to spot. I've contacted a few trainers, but no one is available any time soon. So as of two weeks ago I've started a five day STOP THE BUCKING course from John Lyons trainer Keith Hosman. It was 5 bucks (pun intended) so I figured it would give me something to do until I either found him a new owner or a trainer.

(By the way, it doesn't take five days. It just has five segments.)

I'm not getting any kind of commission on this thing. I don't even know if it works. But so far I've really enjoyed reading it. Now I'm giving it a shot.

Anyway, I'll be posting on how it goes. Hopefully my velcro butt will hold out.

Next: Day one: The one rein stop.

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