Yesterday was warm-ish for winter, but had a wind with a biting edge. Zelda and I went out for a hack and when that wind got under her tail, I could feel the buck rising in her. Luckily, Zelda has a “tell”. She’d be a terrible poker player because when she’s going to be naughty she shakes her head and neck — a pre-buck warning system that is very useful.
Mostly when she does this, I growl at her. If that doesn’t work, I use a one-rein stop and put her in a tight circle for a round or two. She doesn’t like that, so usually she chooses to behave. The other thing which is a good discourager of bad behavior is a set of spurs. When I first started riding Zelda, she tested me every single ride. She would buck. She would squeal. She would try to rub me off on trees. She wanted to make sure that I was serious about doing work.
Carrying a crop didn’t help. Zelda’s reaction to a spanking is to buck harder. For such a big girl, she’s quite athletic. Her bucks aren’t hard to sit, but when they come in multiples, they can be disconcerting.
Spurs were the remedy. I don’t use them as a “go faster” aide; I use them as a behave NOW tool. Of course, yesterday, I wasn’t wearing them because I only wanted to go for a walk.
Zelda doesn’t buck now because she’s trying to avoid work. She and I came to an understanding about three months into our relationship, and she mostly works with me rather than against me. These days she wants to buck because she feels good and I’m still being wimpy.
Freedom doesn’t buck. I’ve owned him for 15 years and I can’t think of a time when he’s ever bucked under saddle. It’s just as well because that boy can throw a big buck when he’s playing in the field. I’m sure he could get me off if he tried.
Luckily he’s a pleaser. I’ve never felt like he wanted me to come off, only that he didn’t know how to contain his own energy. When he’s naughty he bounces. Or throws his head. Or jigs. When I rode him last week we mostly cantered. He could canter for an hour easily — if my ankle would cooperate. He’s so balanced that he doesn’t care if we’re going up hill or down hill. He gets into that thoroughbred gear and settles into overdrive.
Of course, he does have lightening fast reflexes. He can spook five feet to the left so fast that you feel like a cartoon character suspended in the air, hoping you’ll land in the saddle. He’s gotten me off twice that way — once when a dear popped out of the woods in front of us and once when someone started a chain saw a bit too close. Both times he appeared horrified that I’d come off, almost apologetic.
How about your horse? Can you tell when they have mischief on their minds?