After our very pretty but very slow run on 12-2 Trax and I went back to the practice pen. SS had told us that our patterns are really nice but that it was time to start riding more aggressively. So that is what I decided to do.
Sometimes my neighbor uses my arena-vator and whenever he does he works my arena too, which is super nice. However one of the last times he did that my barrels somehow got moved down towards the middle of my arena. Due to my extremely busy schedule, they have just stayed there. But at the gate end of my arena there is also a wooden trail bridge. So "riding more aggressively" has almost gotten me into trouble when that bridge comes up so fast. SO, I took the time to put my barrels back at the far end of the arena where I like them. That gives me an extra 20-30 feet to stop before we are forced to jump the bridge.
It was 6 am last Tuesday morning, there was pretty good chill but it wasn't even cold enough to need gloves or a jacket. Just a hoodie kept me plenty warm. I pulled my mighty steed from his stall, and gave him half a flake of hay to munch on while I tacked him up. I never work my horses on a totally empty stomach.
We did our usual warm up routine. We WTC until he feels soft and relaxed and lopes with his head down. Then we work on our smaller circles and my body position. We work on posting, on me relaxing my rib cage so he will relax his. You know, all the things my great trainer has been teaching me to be a better rider.
We did our usual trotting of the pattern, and then a slow lope of the pattern and every thing was right on the money.
Now before I go any further, let me back up just a little. One of the reasons I have always been trepidatious about letting Trax run full speed, is because I have seen him buck. I'm not talking like out in the pasture buck. I'm talking about in the round pen, full on blow up and rip the lead rope out of my hands. I have seen back feet higher than the top of the round pen. I have always been just a little bit afraid that if he ever took to bucking when we were at a full run, he would kill me.
Over time and as we have been practicing our sprinting around the arena, I have gotten over that and was finally at a point where I was beginning to trust that he wasn't going to do that. Granted there are time when he will do a "oh I think I want to buck" crow hop, but he isn't dedicated to the buck and I can always bring him out of it very easily. Usually it is coming out of the 2nd barrel and he is usually telling me to get my spur out of his side. The fact is, I had laid aside my fears and begun to trust my horse again.
Now back to that morning.
So we were at the point that I was ready to "go for it". I felt good. My horse seemed to feel good to me. We were working well together, the time had come to just do it. We trotted a circle, and I took a deep breath and pushed him into a left lead lope. We lined up with the center barrel and I pushed my hand forward and asked him to go.
We came up to the first barrel, and I waited till the perfect moment to sit down and say "easy" and then we powered around that barrel with what felt like a text book turn. My hand was right where it was supposed to be and it was flat like it is supposed to be. My butt was in the saddle and I drove him forward with my seat. We exited in the correct lead and completed the second barrel just as nice. We committed to the full turn, powered around the barrel and raced off to number 3. The 3rd barrel is usually our best so I was very excited for our progress! We made a beautiful turn and I let go of the saddle horn and we raced for home.
Right about the time we past the barrels my 18 year old broke freaking horse blew up.
This was not "Oh I think i might buck"
This was, "Oh yeah, I'm bucking!"
He bucked all the way to the end of the arena. Including the extra 20-30 feet I added by moving my barrels.
I did not come off, but I just barely stayed on. Luckily it wasn't the 2 hind feet over head buck, but it was the all four feet off the ground buck.
I finally got him stopped by running him into the fence. I should have pulled his head around, but to be honest I was just trying to hang on at that point. I yelled at him to knock his shit off, and then took him around the arena at a fast trot for about 20 laps. Meanwhile I am doing the instant replay through my brain to figure out what it was that set him off.
I had spurs on, but they are short shanked ball end spurs. Very mild. Just enough to get him off my leg when I need. Maybe my leg went back behind the rear cinch. Maybe I kicked him to hard (no I wasn't kicking- I don't think). Maybe it is the cold. Maybe his shoulder hurts. Maybe he stepped on a rock.
Maybe he is just a counterfeit SOB who will never be able to be trusted.
That one hurts. It hurts my heart to think that about my favorite horse. But lets face it, we are not talking about a 3 or 4 year old green horse.
I stopped and took my spurs off.
Then we kept riding.
When my hands quit shaking we went back to the pattern. Not quite as aggressively, and we did not race home anymore that day. He was fine the rest of the time.
On the bright side I know that my biggest fear just happened AND not only did I survive it....I rode it out.
On the down side, my trust level with this horse took a serious step back.
Today is Sunday. I have not been back on him since.
Of course that isn't all due to trust. Part of it is time related, and to be honest, he jacked my back up a little bit and it took me a few days to get over it.
I had planned on racing him yesterday. The only reason I didn't is because BEC texted me and reminded me that there was a buckle run at my favorite sorting facility that day. So I scratched the race and went and chased cows instead.
Today I will ride him. I have decided that I will go back to round penning him before we ride for now just so he can get any of that crap out of his system before I get on. I used to do that before every ride. But he has been pretty good so I stopped. Maybe some horses always need that. I don't freaking know.
I will try to figure out what caused it. If he pulls it again.....I just don't know what I will do.