When Freedom doesn’t get ridden enough he gets cranky. He starts to forget where he is in the hierarchy of life and gets a bit too self important. He starts to give you the evil eye or cocks a hind leg at you when you adjust a blanket.
I’ve been seeing this emerge lately. The combination of too many days off and unusually warm weather had gotten to him.
I have a zero tolerance for this behavior because in my experience, if you let it go, it only gets worse. After a few rides where Freedom was, in a word, explosive, I decided that I was going apply some wet saddle blanket therapy.
After I fed, I started to take off his blanket. Immediately I got attitude. But as i was reaching for his cribbing collar, something unexpected happened. I’d picked up some static electricity and I gave him a huge shock. All four feet came off the ground and I made a quick exit stage left.
When he settled and I came back into the barn he looked at me with new respect and some chagrin. “Dude,” I could imagine him saying. “You didn’t need to taser me!” After that, he stood still as a statue while I tacked him up.
The good behavior didn’t last. A few minutes under saddle and he couldn’t decide if he wanted to bounce, buck or spook. I could feel the hump in his back and he was sucking back behind the bit looking for an excuse to dart sideways.
That’s where the wet saddle blanket therapy came in. I put him to work. We trotted.
Trotted some more. And trotted some more. We did circles and figure eights. We worked on leg yields and shoulder in and that’s when I discovered that he was very stiff going to the right. He didn’t want to bend and he didn’t want to step under himself.
So we did it some more. When he wanted to bounce, we bounced sideways. When he wanted to spook, he found himself in time out.
Each time I thought I’d ridden the sillies out of him he proved me wrong so we worked some more.
Finally after about an hour and half, he decided that good behavior was a good idea. When I untacked him he was a quiet, happy horse who was ready to relax.