Today was a hot one, and once again I did not get up early enough to beat the heat. But when I went out to fly spray everyone, Princess Melody was kind of being a little turd.
With that in mind I decided that she has probably been standing around too much and a little round pen work would do her some good. Since we were going to do round pen work I decided go ahead and throw a pole on the ground for her to step over.
Seems simple enough, right?
At first she really balked at the pole and I gave her plenty of time to sniff it, and if she made any movement towards it I backed off and gave her the release. Then I'd ask again. She finally did go over and I backed off completely and let her go around the pen. We did this a few times in one direction and then started all over again in the other. The second direction, in her mind was no relation to the first, and it was as if she had never crossed the pole.
When she did finally cross the pole, it was by jumping it, rather than stepping over it. Still, over was over, and I was just happy with that.
On about the 3rd trip around I said to her, "One more time over and we will call it a day."
She immediately slammed on her brakes and refused to go over it again.
I tried turning her the other direction. I tired getting a little bigger with my energy. I tried smacking the ground with my stick and string. When I did that she bucked and kicked out in my direction. I spanked her butt, and she got pissed and bucked and kicked even higher.
It was pretty much down hill from there. Clearly if she feels she is cornered, she will kick her way out of where ever she is cornered at. While she never actually tried to connect with me, those warning shots were loud and clear saying, "I don't like the pressure you are putting on me!" Of course I never once let myself get close enough to where she could connect either.
At one point I thought that maybe if she had support from her friend Trax, she would maybe reconsider going over the pole just once. So I left her be, and went and got him. When I came back she was right on my heels wanting to be friends...silly horse.
I brought him in, and moved them both around the pen. He went over the poles several times, and each time she slammed on the brakes. I tried several times without using too much pressure to coax her but it wasn't going to happen.
After a bit I looked over at Trax standing on the other side of the round pen. I swear if that horse could talk he would have been saying, "OMG Mel, just go over the dang thing so we can get out of here!"
Then he walked over to her, nuzzled her a little bit, whispered in her ear, and then once again showed her how it was done. I swear I was not driving him forward. He did this on his own.
She still refused.
By now it was 103 out, I was dripping in sweat, so was she and I knew I was going to have to leave for work soon. I ended up putting them both away.
So what I accomplished today was teaching her that very bad behavior will in fact get her out of doing what I want her to do.
Tomorrow we will try a different approach.
Tomorrow I will do some exercises to regain control of her feet. I will move her in ever direction imaginable. Then we will also do lots of riding, and lots of control exercises from her back. Then I will go back to the ground and we will try again. Eventually I will get her to go over the pole again, and once I do I will stop there.
The big lesson I learned today is that when I am thinking "just one more" I need to not ask for "one more" because I have already asked for enough. This is the first time this has happened to me. Many times I have been trying to teach Trax something, and said, "one more time" only to have everything fall apart at that exact moment.
As Jay has always told me, "If your horse is gonna leave in 4, you stop at 3."
I also learned what Appy-tude is today, and yes Princess Mellypalouza is loaded with it.