Sunday was a beautiful spring day. I think I mentioned that on my post yesterday but it bears repeating. The highs just touched 70F with a very light breeze, Canada Geese honking in the pasture, daffodils blooming like mad and the feeling of needing to be outside enjoying it all.
So, we rode twice. Lucy and Mufasa in the morning followed by Flash and Jackson in the afternoon.
We mounted in the small arena behind the barn but decided to ride up to the dressage court. The sand in the small arena was packed hard and I was concerned about Jackson's feet. Brett had dragged the dressage court Saturday so the sand was soft and fluffy. Jackson marched up to the dressage court with no trouble at all.
We walked around the arena on a loose rein to start. No problemo. I put my inside leg on at one point to see if he would bend a bit while turning -- and instead he took a nice step of leg yield. I laughed. That's Jackson; an over-achiever.
I picked up the contact a bit and he curled behind the bit but continued to march. So I gave him a squeeze to push his hind forward and get rid of the evasive head carriage. Instead, he offered to trot so I let him for just a couple of strides. He didn't want the contact at all and started fussing with his mouth; throwing his head around. I kicked him forward. He tried to canter. I said no and he got very upset. He didn't want anything to do with correct. He just wanted to go. He put his head high in the air, opened his mouth and chomped loudly, then backed up as fast as he could. When I kicked him forward, he reared. Honestly.
I was concerned that maybe he didn't like the bit (although initially he had been fine) or was in pain. So, I hopped off. He immediately stood quietly and stopped fussing. I checked his mouth. It was fine. He looked at me mildly. "hi there. Nice day isn't it?" Mr. Innocent.
As we walked back to the barn I racked my brain, trying to figure out what set him off. I wasn't pulling back, I wasn't taking a strong contact, and he didn't seem to be in pain (just the opposite).
I remembered that I had issues with him when we started riding dressage, instead of just trail riding. Gayle, our trainer at the time, had helped me work through it so I decided to go back and read some old blog posts about those lessons. Bingo! Gayle advised me not to get caught up in Jackson's "bridle wars" -- to ignore his head tossing, give him a long rein so he couldn't argue with me, and push him sideways with my leg. I remember now that it didn't take long for Jackson to figure out that his game didn't work anymore -- and then he was gold.
Now I have a game plan. And a sound horse (in 15 minutes of work at any rate).
Meanwhile, Flash was perfectly obedient and willing for Brett. They stuck to walk for the most part. Flash didn't look completely comfortable at trot, although he wasn't off.