Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bending

When I rode Tex a few weeks ago, I immediately noticed that he has no clue or ability to bend to the right.  On a circle, he travels stiffly, like a board.  His nose pokes to the outside, almost in counter-bend.  The idea of bending around my leg was completely foreign to him.  He's not Gumby going left, but is able travel with some bend that direction.  He never bent to the right for Brett either.
All photos in this post by Buffy (thank you!)
 Come to think of it, he can't lunge to the right.  He is totally flummoxed.  And then he gets worried because he doesn't understand.

When he's worried, he can't think and then he has a melt-down.  I've been very careful not to exert pressure when I work with Tex.  He is very pressure-adverse, very pressure sensitive.

I talked to one of the wranglers at Alisal about Tex.  She's a very solid rider with great horsemanship skills.  She started out eventing as a kid and then fell in love with Quarter horses while in college.  She has experience in all disciplines -- and loves them all.  I described the "can't bend to the right" issue to her and she immediately said, "Was he a roping horse?"

Well, yes, as a matter of fact he was a competitive roping horse.

She nodded and then explained.  There are different styles of riders in roping, but many of them train their horses to come out of the box and get the steer and that's it.  They never have to bend right; they bend left to be positioned correctly.  She said she's ridden a lot of roping horses that were stiff as a board.  "Hmm," I said, "kind of like race horses who are used to running in one direction and have to learn to go the other way?"

Exactly, she said.

This morning, Brett and I moved the boys up to the top pasture for the day.  Tex was willing and ready, meeting me when I came into the pasture with his halter.  I tried a couple carrot stretches.  Bending to the left, his muzzle brushed his side -- plenty bendy.  Going to the right, you could walk between the space between his nose and his side.  He's one tight pony.  I see lots of carrots stretches in his future.

And I plan to ask Mark Rashid for some guidance as well.  The timing of our clinic with him (in two weeks) is perfect.

5 comments:

  1. How interesting. The carrot stretches are a good idea. Maybe an equine masseuse to help loosen him up as well.

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  2. The carrot stretch is an excellent idea. I used to do those with old Red to keep him limber. That'll be fun to read about your experience at the Rashid clinic in two weeks.

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  3. yes, that is interesting. Sounds like he could us some yoga. 😊

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  4. And it can even be worse than that - some roping horses are severely punished if they move to the right and particularly if they take the right lead, and horses that have been treated that way tend to be very fearful and reactive when asked to move or bend to the right - they're being asked to do something they've been trained to never, ever do under penalty of a beating.

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  5. What a beautiful face he has!

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.