“One does not get to Grand Prix with rubs and pats”

I can’t remember who said that – some famous old dead guy, no doubt. That’s not to say that you don’t always praise the horse when it shows even the least bit of ‘try’ when you ask something of it. But that it takes more than that to make a trained horse. .

Some people would be fairly horrified by this thought, but those are generally the people who really don’t understand horses anyway. Yes, in training, sometimes you have to get a horse to do something it initially does not want to do. Otherwise, you’d really never be able to train a horse at all.  I personally don’t have a problem with that. _I_ have to do things i don’t want to do all the time….like get up at 5:30, drive an hour to work, spend 9 hours a day sitting in an office under flourescent lights, get root canals, cook dinner, etc. etc. etc.  You get the drift. But that does not mean there is someone threatening to BEAT me if I do not do those things. Ditto for the horse.

I think about that quote today because Fling said “NO” to me yesterday when I asked her to do something. It happens so infrequently that I can’t remember the last time it DID happen. I decided to try some ‘full pass’ work to try and help our half pass. In “full pass” you move sideways in the direction of the bend, like in half pass, but you do not go forward at all. It is completely lateral. I tried it at the arena fence…to the left, she did it, haltingly, but did it. To the right, I got an emphatic no. She would not take one step to the right in the half pass bend….she threw her haunches left, backed up, threatened to rear. It sounds dramatic, but Fling threatening to rear means she goes about one inch off he ground.  I tried several times with the same reaction. When I took her away from facing the fence, and just asked her to do it ‘in he open’ she did not object openly, but also did not do it very well.

I was wondering if she might be a little sore. And, it also might be time for some regular Adequan or Legend injections. She’s 10 now, and is working pretty hard.

Today I took her out in our field to work,just to get her out of the arena. I got almost the same, but a little less emphatic, reaction when I asked for full pass to the right at the fence. But, later in our session, when I asked for half pass, it was better than yesterday by quite a bit.I did one in each direction and moved onto something else. (As Jan Brink says,” don’t drill your horses in things they do very well, OR the things they don’t do well.”

And interestingly, when I was grooming them all this evening (something I try to do every night before I go to bed) when I reached Fling’s armpits she had a violent reaction – on both sides.As in, she reached around and bit – not me, but the brush.  Now sometimes they’re just ticklish there – but even after she’d had time to get used to it, she was very reactive.  I put the brush aside and massaged gently with my hand and she was still very irritated, but the longer I worked on her in that area, the better she got.(Think ‘Oh, it hurts so good’ like when you get deep tissue massage on a sore muscle.)  I think she’s sore. It makes sense – when she’s doing lateral work and crossing the front legs, she would have to stretch more, in that very spot. So the question is – is she sore because of the full pass/half pass work – or was she saying “no” to the full pass because she was already sore?  Regardless of the answer to that question, for our next session, we’ll skip the lateral work.


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