Thursday 3 May 2018

So Annoying

I thought we were over it.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Cisco's fear of pigeons is back.

I'm hoping that it was just because he had an excess of energy after not being ridden for four days (but lunged a bit the day before).
The intent stare.
On my second or third lap around the arena during our walk warm-up on Monday. a pigeon in the scary end flapped its wings and took flight. Cisco spooked, wheeled, and bolted. Well, his version of bolt. Which is about 3 fast strides before settling into a nice canter. I would have ridden him forward but my girth was loose and when he wheeled it had slipped to the right so I wasn't terribly centered.

For the rest of the ride he was looking for that pigeon. And spooked pretty big about 5 or 6 times when he thought he heard the bird.

His spook is more annoying than anything - first he splats, which seats me deep in the saddle, then stares, so I have a second to get ready, then wheels. Because it's a little bit in slow motion, he hasn't unseated me at all. It's just annoying. Especially after the first couple.
Phantom drew in her eyebrow with dirt.
Despite the spooking, I was actually happy with many aspects of the ride. The "half-halt" I had installed the week before was still working, and I was able to mostly control the pace. After the first few minutes of trot (during which we could not turn at all for some reason) his steering was quite good and he was straight down the long sides. He tried to drop his inside shoulder and bulge in on the first couple of corners, so I made him trot and halt right in the corner and that sorted it out. And later in the ride we went through the scary short end and I asked him for inside flexion through the turn (instead of intently looking to the outside for the pigeon of death) and he gave it to me.

I also tried to change the height of his neck for the first time. He was total periscope up looking for the pigeons for the whole ride. So I tried a Lendon Grey exercise that was in the Lessons With Lendon book that I had just picked up at the post office. It's basically ask for strong flexion to the left, strong flexion to the right, strong flexion to the left, then throw the reins away and let the horse stretch down. Then repeat over and over until the horse starts to get the idea of stretching their head down.
Somebody took a chunk out of Phantom's tail. I saw the chunk on the ground in the field and hoped it had come from a different horse who left last month. Nope.
We did it at a walk in the safe end. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he gave me flexion. I was expecting more resistance. And there was a bit of progress in stretching down - he went from a giraffe to keeping his head where I would like it to be while hacking around. Long way to go to get him stretching down, but it got lower than where we started so I'm calling that progress.

I am happy to see that there has been at least some progress. Now just to work on the pigeon fear.


  1. ughhh c'mon Cisco, the birds are our friends! or, uh, something like that!....

  2. Birds walking around in front of us = fun to chase.
    Birds flapping wings in the corner = utterly terrifying.