Friday, May 16, 2014


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.


  1. Appy-tude is very real! My mom grew up with App's and has one now, I've met the sweet Appaloosa's ever (and trust me, I've met a LOT) but even the most dead-broke one had an attitude! That's why I prefer my Quarter, lol!

    1. Oh yes, I knew it was real when I bought her. Actually what I really liked was that today even though we "argued" she still very much wanted to be with me and be my friend. If Trax and I argue, he wants me to go away so he can sulk.

  2. I hate that, I have done that too when I ask for too much when I know better. No worries she will figure it out and she will also figure that doing what you want is easier than fighting it. But frustrating it is, funny how you use Trax as the show her how its done horse tho ;)

    1. I know, that is what I was thinking as I got him out. That my crazy horse is the one who does pretty much any thing I ask. But the truth is, I put more time into Trax than I do any of my other horses and it shows.

  3. Sometimes it feels like we have to quit while we're behind. That's a crappy feeling in regards to training. But when it starts going wrong, take a deep breath, let it all go and ask again, quietly, calmly and without worries that it will happen right, just like it should. That's when it goes right and you quit there... Best laid plans and all that- right out the window. Yeah. Because that's what really happens and we all know it. Hahaha

  4. Yeah when you said "One more time over and we will call it a day." all she heard was "we will call it a day"! I know that feeling of asking one time too many and then getting in a battle... sigh...
    I was thinking, just before I read it, that you could work on just asking her feet to move, next time. What we learned in the Jim Anderson clinic would work- ask for the hind end to give (which essentially gets her facing you) and then send her around you (on a 12 ft line) then ask for the hip, etc. until she gives you her hip just by you pointing at her hocks. Then ask for her shoulder, then hip, until she sidepasses a step or two. But I'm sure you know all this, and it's what I'm going to be doing with Kai this coming week. He is a little jumpy when he's asked to do things; I think he learned that if he gets jumpy the handlers got a little scared and backed off, and then stopped- he learned that it got him out of work. Ha! His life is about to change!

  5. All over a silly pole too! I wonder what she would have done if there were several poles laying around in the round pen? Lol

  6. I wonder what her association with poles is. Seems like she has a history of some sort there. Like you needed another horse with baggage. :P If she was mine I might put a few into her night yard. She will go around them at first but maybe in the end she will just get so blase she walks over them. In the meatnime, she is having the battles with herself, not you.

    Only other thing that suggests itself is that if leading a horse over poles in a figure eight pattern is how you recondition a horse with a sacro-iliac issues, then it must work that area, and maybe it actually twinges her to lift those hinds to go over them?