Since it has been some time since I shared what was happening with William and Archie I figured I will dedicate a post to them both sharing their updates. William and I have had quite the roller coaster summer, but at the cusp of the riding season things seem to have all come together and are now going quite well.
Once we moved I made a plan to really get going with William and work through his scooting/bucking issues so we could actually accomplish something. This was a great plan at first but William had other things in mind. I tried several different saddles landing on the close contact majorly hunter Crosby I usually show Ace in. The least stickable saddle of course on the horse that is trying to get me off the MOST.
Things were going ok – we were walking and trotting sort of after working on the lunge, then William began with some major head tossing. I had him in a Mylar which now I realize was much too strong. I switched him to a straight bar rubber snaffle and that seemed to take care of that issue. A new issue popped up, probably the most frustrating one I have ever experienced. I would mount William and then he would flat out refuse to move.
No matter what I did, kicked, pushed, hit him with the whip, turned him, clucked, begged, pleaded….NOTHING would get him to move. I would usually wait it out for about 10 minutes and then he would take a step and start shuffling like he was going to buck me off. We continued this for about 20 minutes around the ring until he finally gave up and then would carry on normally. I was beginning to feel very defeated. I didn’t know if I needed to send him to a trainer (which I can’t afford), if he was having physical issues, give up entirely, or if I just needed to persevere through it.
right after he ripped my eventing calendar in half...bad pony!
I made the mistake of asking CoTH whom I normally adore, for advice. I got ripped apart from many posters there regarding my lunging technique, and the fact that they read back on my blog and saw the accident William had in the spring. I tried to defend myself explaining that everything was %100 fine with William physically but it fell on mostly deaf ears. Between the attacks on my horsemanship skills there were a few good posts there who gave me some advice that did indeed change the course of things for William and I. (Post titled "My Horse Won't Move Once Mounted" if you care to read the thread).
One piece of advice I took away; I started carrying a whip at all times. I took a lesson almost immediately with Daphne and she explained the horse is simply confused. He has no idea what is going on up there or what I am asking and we need to teach him the very basic aid of – Stop – and – Go. We worked our whole lesson on walk – trot – halt – transitions. It also was important to learn that William is a very slow learner compared to Archie, but once he learns something it is there and there is no need to keep relearning it. He is very good that way.
I felt much better after my lesson with Daphne. She told me he was an extremely nice horse and would be capable of upper lever dressage with good training. I continued to work with William at home and although he tried many new tricks; backing up continuously, bolting, spooking, running off, I only had to correct them a few times and he has never tried them again. He has even learned to stand perfectly still while mounting (another piece of advice I learned on CoTH for the difficult mounter).
He had an abscess for 2 months in the summer which set him back, but upon healing went back to work better than ever. I learned that he probably did have a bit of discomfort, being possible his rib was out. I did some research on this and he fit the description to a T. Girthy, unwilling to move forward when saddled, taking a weird stance, and crow hopping under saddle. In order to help the problem the vet advice I read involved chiro, stretching, lunging before riding and riding the horse correctly over their back. I began stretching William twice a day and I would lunge him for a just a few minutes beforehand each ride. The improvement in him has been ten fold.
The journey has not been without struggle or pain. I was thrown off him a few times this summer. Once from a big spook and spin at a bunny jumping out of the woods, and another when he gave a first class effort over a cross rail and I failed to be prepared, thus thumping on his back and him dumping me in disapproval. I learnt my lesson.
We are now at the point where can work on going properly, without worry of bucking and spooking. We cantered our first fence a few weeks ago and have attended our first dressage show together (at my farm). I had a lesson with Daphne last month and another last weekend. We even trotted my entire grasshopper cross country course! I am really hoping to be able to compete him next summer. His sire just won the award from the American Trekhaner Association for 2012 the top Eventing Stallion, I am dreaming of him following his success. Until next summer we will continue on working and improving. Taking the horse that everyone thought “couldn’t”, and showing them, he "can". A video of our progress at the end of the post.