Ride 38: Rags Remains Unconvinced

My plan for the week was to ride Rags after the rain passed, if it wasn’t too muddy…however, the little norther came howling in dry and far too blustery for a ride Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday through Friday was another attack of gut trouble.  So today I got back on him when not feeling quite 100%, in the evening when, alas, the wind had really come up again, this time from the SW.   The ride was…interesting.  Right out of the gate, he was nappy (see, I’m speaking English English here) and wanted to turn back and quit.  “No,” I said.   He prefers to dive to the right, and just shortening the left rein to keep him straight doesn’t work.  To turn his head back to the left and straighten him out requires a strong pull sideways with a very short rein. STRONG neck.  Short and thick.

We went along, with him trying to duck and go home  repeatedly, and me “doubling” him several times and making ~15 meter circles here and there to enforce “You’re going where I want you to go, kid…believe it.”  He remained unconvinced.  I was taking him off the usual trails to deal with what felt like excess energy under my seat (lots of revs there)  and encourage him to pick up his feet, walking over slightly taller grass and other plants.   We covered more of the East Grass than we have before ,  and had multiple “discussions” of what next.  (Abrupt turn and lunge into trot?  No.  Double left, double right, walk a big circle.    Walk faster and faster and break to a big trot? No.  Double, walk a big circle away from the homeward way. Pretend the car on the highway half a field away was scary enough to spin away from and head home?  No.  Double, re-double, circle.  Etc.)

Tigger kept hollering for him, of course, and Tigger was upwind, so the sound carried easily.  “Come back, come back NOW, don’t let her take you away!”   I did enjoy the bluebonnets–not a great crop but amazing considering the lack of rain–and the Texas stars (one flower per plant, unusual.)

Although it was not hot (actually pleasant with a T-shirt and denim long-sleeved shirt over it) Rags was wet under the saddle when we got back.  He is shedding now, but not nearly shed out.  Most of the heat, though, was generated by himself, all those extra revs.   It was not a relaxing ride, but it was a good level of challenging for me.   Always fun to have a horse that’s not being dangerously difficult test the rider’s skills.  Can you stay balanced with the sudden quarter-whirls?  Can you stay balanced and upright when doubling the horse back?  Can you try out other combinations of hand and leg that keep him straight as well as the doubling ?  Which leg works better with this horse?   Is he riding better at the end than at the beginning?  (Horses either improve or backslide on every ride.)

I was tired when I got back but not too tired and he was not dangerously hot, or too wet.  The exercises I do every day (well, almost…there was one day I couldn’t) are helping with strength.

So to the vet we go Monday, for the Coggins test, the shots, the dental work, and another (probably final) soundness test for Tigger, and Tuesday I have the dentist (the horses meet their dentist Monday)  To give me something to do besides ride Rags this week, we discovered that part of the floor of the house is, um, rotten and falling in, so I have to call a contractor Monday when I’m back from the vet.  And re-call the plumbing contractor about the other house’s main bathroom which needs major work.

Tomorrow I need to prepare both horses for the vet by trying to get them both groomed, manes and tails trimmed, etc.  This may or may not work with Tigger.  He has a bad mane trim, done a section at a time because he is freaky about scissors.  However it’s better than what he had before, and this should end up looking respectable, I hope.  Rags needs his evened out a bit (because he’s not freaky about scissors, his looks pretty much OK, just amateurish right now.  Their coats are still long, only partly shed out, and since Tig hates all shedder blades…his is worse.

I need bed now, despite a short nap after the ride and a bowl of potato and cheese.



5 thoughts on “Ride 38: Rags Remains Unconvinced

    1. It’s interesting because he’s become somewhat easier to catch (he sort of pretends to shy away a short distance then stands still) and much easier to bridle (I don’t need to put pressure with my thumb on his bars…he will take the bit himself once it’s close to or touching his lips, and he no longer slings his head around trying to avoid it.) That’s why I think if it relates to discomfort at all, it’s not in his mouth, at least not just from the bit (unless he’s got a sore place in there that the bit hits on sometimes. Tomorrow will reveal it if there is.) He’s not super happy about being saddled, but many horses aren’t, and he signals if I get the girth strap through the wrong part of the buckle (which would make it uncomfortable and also nearly impossible to undo once tightened.) The sudden turns trying to head home again do not always come first at the same distance from home, or at the same interval (also argues against a consistent pain as the problem) and disappear completely on the way back. Nothing’s showing up in his feet.

      Since I don’t have a regular trainer/coach/friend to be eyes on the ground and correcting problems with my seat, I may be sitting off-center and causing discomfort that way, but until I have someone who can give me the feedback, I can’t fix it. In some high-end dressage schools there are mirrors on at least one end of the menage so you can see yourself and know if (for instance) one stirrup is lower than the other or (if you’re good at seeing it) you’ve collapsed a hip or constantly have your head tilted. R- can’t do that for me unless the problem is really, really obvious. Rider problems–like sitting off-center, leaning on turns, using the reins too harshly, not enough, or unevenly–can lead to horse problems. But again, on the way back toward home, Rags quits with the dodgy stuff and moves out quickly, feeling “even” under me. So maybe it’s “all in his head” and he just wants to be home with Tigger rather than out in the big wide world with me. (Though again, he shows an interest in, not a great fear of, most things he sees: cars and trucks going by, a stray cat, a low-flying airplane, etc. If Tigger would just stop whinnying at him…)

  1. Sorry you are having repeated tummy troubles, they make you feel so awful.

    I hope the preparation for and all of your appointments go smoothly.

  2. Hi – hope the vet visit goes OK. I was wondering l- how about a video of your riding to check on your seat on Rags? I am sure if you posted a video you would get a ton of advice. And good luck on your own visit to the dentist tomorrow.

    Stay safe and stay sane,

    Jonathan up here in New Hampshire

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