It was when we got into the canter work that the "discussions" with Storm really got serious. I can't tell you there was any rhyme or reason to his outbursts, only Storm seems to know that. For me it seemed totally out of the blue that the horse would erupt and those out bursts were more like real bronc moves than any I've ever experienced.
I can still see that first explosion in my mind's eye as we went down the rail by the horse barns working at the canter to the right. This was the first ride I had begun asking the horse to give me "more" than just his head in the air doing as he pleased and he seemed to be adjusting quite well.
I felt like I had really good forward movement although the horse was definitely not square underneath me. I picked up my inside rein and put the inner leg on him as well blocking with my outside leg. Going to the left the horse had taken this correction very well and moved squarely underneath me where he belonged. The first couple of times I'd asked him going to the right, he seemed compliant as well BUT two thirds of the way down the rail the horse grunted, dropped his head, squealed and began jumping on all fours like a pogo stick, spinning in the process.
If I hadn't had my hands full, I think I would have sat back and laughed. Not that I didn't feel concerned for my safety, because believe me, I most certainly did. BUT the grunting, squealing, bronc like behavior was so uncharacteristic for this horse (and the breed from what I know) and his personality that it struck my funny bone somehow. I could see cartoon strip characterizations of his outburst flash through my brain as I grabbed at the reins trying to get control over my horse.
Had it been something that happened when I'd first gotten on the horse, I'd have been looking for physical causes, a burr under the saddle or a pinch somewhere. This behavior just made no sense to me so I pulled the horse around and spanked him, not knowing what else to do but my mind raced for an explanation and my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. I had no idea why this was happening.
This particular style, if you want to call it that, of protest by Storm was a one time only incident. There were no more four legged pounding jumps after this first time. It was not, however, the end of the outbursts by Storm and they were not restricted to right lead canter work. Any kind of canter work seemed to make me vulnerable to Storm's temper tantrums and I struggled trying to figure out what he was protesting.
Some days the ride would be just fine. Other days he would blow. When he did he might leap, shake his head, strike the ground with his front feet, buck or rear or any combination of those. It didn't seem to matter if we'd worked the day before or had a full week off. From what I could tell the outbursts were unpredictable. The only thing they seemed to have in common was canter work.
I checked to see if the horse was sore or needed a chiropractor and nothing seemed to be wrong there. I looked at the training to see what might be there. Maybe I was asking too much so I tried to back off to see if that would help. Maybe the horse needed more smaller almost continuous releases like what I'd do with a "baby" horse. Nothing seemed to work. The intermittent outbursts continued.
When the Daffodil entries were due, my friend showed up at the park to get mine so we could all stable together. As she turned into the arena area she spotted me riding out one of Storm's outbursts. When she got up to where we were schooling she remarked about how naughty Storm was being. Even though I had told her about the trouble I was having, she was not prepared for what she saw. Her reaction was something of an eye opener to me.
I must admit each time I have an altercation with Storm I think about Wendy Potts telling me at the clinic that I had a lot of guts. At the time she said it, it kind of rolled off my back. I logged it away but I really didn't get it. I didn't think guts had anything to do with wanting to rehabilitate Storm and I guess I didn't get the potential ticking time bomb I was dealing with. Now with my friend's reaction, I had more input about this situation.
There had been a couple of instances at the clinic where the horse had fought both with Wendy Potts and with me. I wasn't discounting those. I just didn't see them as any big deal. They were not threatening to me, and they sure weren't to her. I felt I knew enough to deal with them so I wasn't worried I guess.
Nothing has changed in that regard. I still feel like I know what to do to fix Storm. However, as I have had to deal with these behaviors I have come to understand the importance of getting stallions started under saddle when they are younger, instead of older. There is an intensity there I have not had to deal with before that I strongly believe is directly related to Storm being a stallion and giving up control that has intensified because of his age and not being asked to do anything difficult for two years. Putting all of these things together has created a mix id daunting to say the least.
To be continued.............................
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