November 30, 2010

Another Spook?

Polo pony wearing a Pelham bit with Curb chain...
Not us, but close to what we looked like.
He did it again!!  Me and Dexter were out riding yesterday evening and he was lazy the entire ride.  I don’t mind, he still gets his work done, just needs more convincing on some days.  And in fact he had a really good ride.  His canter work was more up than out and you could tell he was starting to get the whole collection thing and realizing the canter is nothing to stress about (something I have been trying to convince him of for months.)
So at the end of the ride, it was that time just before sunset where the wind stops blowing and everything is super quiet… remember that.. quiet.  I was walking him around the pasture with a loose rein allowing him to cool off and relax, and allowing myself, admittedly to start spacing out a little.  The next thing I know we’ve turned 90 degrees towards the barn and are 10 feet from where we were.  Dexter had spooked, again, at apparently nothing, again and was trying to take off.  As I scrambled to gather my reins and balance I was glad to see the standing martingale I had decided to ride in was doing its job.  It had distracted Dexter just enough to keep him for taking off completely and kept him just out of reach of locking his neck up so when I did find my reins I was able to turn him around and get him back in control. 
In general I am a minimalist when it comes to tack.  Not because I’m against artificial aids, just because its less to worry about and I am admittedly cheap.  But ever since Dexter has tried to make a habit of bolting, I’ve started riding in a standing martingale,  its set pretty loose so he can still stretch and move his head as he needs to.  I have it set just short enough so he can’t snap his head up and lock those massive neck muscles.  The several times he has bolted I’ve found I don’t have the leverage or strength to pull his head around and regain control.  When he’s not running from the devil Dexter has a relatively sensitive mouth and has done well on the french link bit we are working in, so I hate to change to a harsher bit when he does so well in this 99% of the time.  So the martingale seems to be a good compromise.  This was the first time he’s spooked since we started to use it, so I’m glad it worked, otherwise it was a long way back to the barn, in probably a very short time.
As to what he is spooking at?  I still have no idea.  Like I said, he was good the entire ride so I’m ruling out the tack.  It was beyond quiet, no birds, cars, wind… nothing.  Maybe a wasp?? Who knows.   I was just getting ready to hop off when he spooked, but since he had to act silly we trotted around the scary spot until he relaxed and then went in.  I had a theory that he did it knowing when he acted stupid I either fell off and he got to go in or I got scared and cut the ride short.  Since this new system has given me a little more confidence we will see if his issues start to decrease

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