Banishing Rodney’s Evil Twin

tldr: Horse acting up, possible reasons for, rider response tomorrow.

Rodney had a Bad Day last month. This is not the nervous, tight horse who used to shut us out and go to his happy place. This is an arrogant, egotistical horse who is quite aware of what you are asking and doesn’t like it very much.

“A wood animal is confident, active and athletic. They can be superstar performers but are sensitive to stress and are easily angered and tend to be crabby and impatient.” Dr. Wendy Ying: Behavior Therapy

He’s been tossing me the hoof for a while now. Usually about 20 minutes into a ride, he gets tired, I lose focus, he decides he’s over this. He registers his complaint. I tell him to get over himself. We move on. When he was first working regularly in the cart, Milton used to do something similar, at about the same time frame.

We’ve been working on trotting more. The first trot is great. Then Rodney gets anxious. ‘We trotted at this spot in the ring. We’re gonna trot again. I know we’re going to trot.’ Each trot deteriorates further. We’ve been walking in between to give him time to calm down, with varying success.

On this particular day, We trotted. Smooth as always. Walked around. He pitched a minor objection. Unusual that he did so at a walk. Physically, the fit is negligible. His front feet come a few inches off the ground. He slings his head back back and forth. The problem is mental. You feel as if you are riding a horse whose brain is about to go into free fall.

I sucked it up and kept going. We trotted. He was on edge. I thought, ‘Great, this is an opportunity to keep calm, to show him that he can relax at the trot, yadda, yadda.’ I thought it was going well, or at least okay. Three-quarters of the way into the short pattern, he disagreed. Prop, head sling. Pause. Prop, head sling. Pause. At which point, he gave me the mental side-eye as if to say, ‘We gonna throw down?’ I got off.

Since you can’t end on that note, he got remedial long-lining. It was lovely to watch the horse jump off the ground and have the dude in the center of the ring say, ‘Yeah, yeah, thats nice, keep going.’ After about 10 minutes, you could see Rodney say, ‘Well, that didn’t work.’ and go back to trotting like a civilized horse.

We ran out of time for me to get back on, particularly if it did not go well. We declared victory and went home.

So What Happened?
Ground crew changed the rein attached to the bit. I didn’t agree, but there is no point to having ground crew if you are not willing to listen to them. Rein changed back.

His teeth were done recently. That should be a good thing.

We changed feed the preceding month [Feed Scoop]. It could be affecting his composure. More likely affecting his size. In case the grain was contributory, we adjusted him to 50/50 grain/pellets from all grain. He’s not happy about the increased salad in his dinner bucket. I told him he stops acting like a twit he can have more meat & potatoes.

The main cause, we think, is saddle fit. Actually, the main cause is a horse with an attitude. The proximate cause is the saddle. Wintec saddles [Equipment] come with an interchangeable internal bar. The measuring widget indicated that he needed to upgrade from a blue bar to a wider red bar. OTOH, Milton has changed from blue to a narrower black, although the red-bar version doesn’t look terrible on him, which doesn’t make sense. But I was talking about Rodney.

Of course, it is always possible that Rodney is basically unrideable, which is a rant for tomorrow.

Since Then
The day after the incident, I got on. He walked badly, which he had been doing well up to that point. Afterwards, we discovered the possible saddle issues. Since I was using the same saddle on Milton, we left any changes until after the dressage show.

Wait a week. Show. Redo saddle. Trial ride. Walked great. Calm & relaxed. Didn’t push it.

The red-bar Wintec fits great along Rodney’s back. However, it clears his withers but not by much, particularly if the saddle is too far forward. It works but it’s not ideal. There’s just too little margin for error.

As I said [Rungs], I am coping with this problem by freezing like terrified rabbit.

It has not escaped my attention that both of my horses have expressed opinions lately. In both cases, the press of events kept me moving forward. Rodney acted up right before my lesson with Kory [Boost], hence the lack of time. Milton’s episode [Hop] was the same day as a saddle seat lesson. Not sure what I would have done without those pre-made plans.

So that’s where we are. I need to get back on, I need wait for weekend to have oversight/encouragement. I need to saddle shop for a second horse, factoring in Rodney’s possible aversion to leather [Finding One That Fits].


Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

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