I know exactly, precisely why my horse bucked.
What I don't know is whether or not I am up for fixing this problem.
We went over to Trail Rider's house for an afternoon of kids swimming, horse work, and BBQ. Trailering was without incident, just a little stubborn at the closing of the bar.
This detail will be ironic later, keep it in mind.
Once we got the kids swimming, we tacked up to ride. No problem. All good. Since I hadn't ridden Cibolo in a while we went over to the round pen and worked. I watched TR ride Vaquero, his Paso Fino. That horse responds to feather touch, and you really have to be on your game to ride him well. He's eager to please, but very quick to react. I remember him going sideways on me once because my weight was just a bit more on the right than the left.
Cibolo was being a pain. Not standing still. I checked for ants, anything, but there was nothing there.
We went into the round pen and he was pretty lousy. Canter was terrible. So with TR's guidance I worked on collecting him, something I don't know anything about. Slowly we got a little better. I'd say we worked for 15-20 minutes in the round pen and by the end he was responding much better, but was still not great at the canter - head tossing, head high, just a mess. Teeth maybe, maybe I needed a different bit, TR theorized.
I decided I'd work on collecting him over the next few months. It would give us something to do in the round pen.
We headed out to the big pasture and we were trotting and walking, just riding in a big square. After a good 15 or 20 minutes of that, TR went ahead of us by about 30 yards. I kept Cibolo at a trot. We'd already cantered here and there. So I wasn't worried. He was good, and I decided we were good to head out at a lope and catch up to that quick moving gaited horse.
That was it. The minute I gave him his head ever so slightly he bunched up and hit a dead run. I was startled, pulled slightly - seriously, slightly - on the reins, and his head dived down and he gave me the worst bucks I've ever been on. The first one caught me off balance, the second I lost my stirrups. But I'd be damned if he was going to dump me.
I yanked his head up hard, he still half bucked half turned, but I stuck it and turned him. I slapped him with the rope to make him turn, because his turns were lazy, crappy turns. He was startled, squirting out under me, but I was too mad to fall off.
I called him every name in the book in two languages. If he so much as moved his head I pulled him around hard.
I cantered him off across the pasture, away from TR. If we wanted to run, then we'd run. He cantered and we spent the next 20 minutes cantering away from TR and his horse.
So that it. That's why. This is exactly when he freaks out. The other horse is too far away, I release him enough to close some distance, and he explodes.
Which makes for a lousy experience. I can't imagine how this would work on an endurance ride where I wasn't with a group committed to stay together.
I worked him hard, cooled him down, pulled him around, stayed big with him in attitude and behavior, then tied him to the trailer with a hay bag. No more pasture time. His eyes were bright, he watched every move I made. He was worried about ticking me off, about making a mistake. It was something he needed to worry about.
When we loaded into the trailer he loaded up so quick, that I could have closed the divider two or three holes closer. Hmm. No need to stand with the butt in the way? Trailer not so small now?
This is who this horse needs. Very strong in attitude, very hard driving individual. I've said it before and I am pretty convinced at this point.
And let me tell you, those bucks didn't feel bratty, they didn't feel scared. I've ridden those. His bucks at the ranch two weeks ago were bratty. I was willing to put up with those.
These were mean. And I'm not kidding. I could feel it viscerally, and it was what made me so angry. I was so mad I could have ridden a Brahma bull at that point.
When I saw him today he still had attitude, but the minute I got harsher, angry, head witch, he straightened up. Even walked up to me in the paddock - but only after he tried to evade me and I got furious and drove him around three quick turns in 10 feet of space. Then he was all like "yes, ma'am!"
I know what he needs to get over this. He needs to be confronted with it repeatedly. But let me tell you, I'm not willing to be on his back when he explodes because the horse he wants to hang out with is 40 feet away. Because I might not get his head up on the second buck. And while I've ridden as many as 7 bucks in a row, I felt myself ready to fly on this one. Too big to stick.
I'm not a trainer. I'm a half decent rider. I just got my confidence back, and I'm not sure this is a way to keep it.
So tell me - are my expectations out of line? Is it unreasonable to want a horse that doesn't have a buck?