One of my favorite things about Henry is that, in general, he’s a pretty agreeable type of guy. Sure, he can get super tense and curl himself up into a tiny up-and-down ball of horse like nothing else I’ve ever ridden, and clearly he will never enjoy having his legs scrubbed, but the word “no “isn’t really in his vocabulary. Really, he is the epitome of a Yes Man. Those yeses can vary widely, from the grudging and perhaps borderline dramatic “omg FINE” of Dressage Henry to the absolutely euphoric “ERMAGERRRDD YAAASSSSS” of XC Henry, but they’re all still overall obedient reactions.
So last night at my dressage lesson when Henry absolutely flipped me the proverbial bird and NOPE’d right over PLSDT (poor long suffering dressage trainer), all I could think was: “well this is a new one.”. The offending movement? Rein back.
This isn’t the first time we’ve ever done rein back. I mean come on, it’s a basic. Granted, we don’t work on it that much. Last night he did a few, grudgingly, and then at my next request after that he was disinclined to acquiesce to the whole backwards thing anymore. He stood there rooted, stiff-jawed, until finally his solution was to charge forward through my hand. PLSDT came to help and Henry just about ran over the top of him before he finally sighed, rolled his eyes (ok that part didn’t happen, but if horses could roll their eyes, trust me, they’d have been rolling around like that boulder in Indiana Jones) and took the requested 3 steps back.
My first thought was that my aids were incorrect and he didn’t understand, but PLSDT verified that they were accurate. My next thought was that he’s sore somewhere (even though he sure as hell felt fantastic for the rest of the lesson, especially in the canter directly proceeding the bird-flipping rein backs), because he’s only about a month away from his SI being due. That could certainly be part of it. But mostly I think it was because we started this at the end of the lesson, after a walk break where he thought he was already done, it was hot, he was sweaty, and rein back is hard for him anyway being that he’s a croup-high horse.
Either way, we definitely went home with some homework. He is no stranger to the “backwards” concept, because one of his strengthening exercises from his chiropractor/acupuncturist is backing short distances up a slight incline, which we do in hand regularly. He just genuinely had no interest in backing 3-5 steps at the end of our dressage lesson last night. So now, we shall rein back several times every ride.
$20 says today he reins back perfectly, like he’s never done otherwise in his entire life. Horses, amiright?