...because Salem has clearly been possessed by demonic spirits and is in need of an immediate exorcism. Anybody have some holy water? Sage? A protective crystal amulet? I'll take anything.
To be honest, I knew yesterday that Salem would be high as a kite; he had Thursday off because I had to take an injured barn cat to the vet, and then Friday off because we had The Thunderstorm of The Century. Add to the mix the fact that it was very brisk and chilly, and you've got the perfect recipe for a Very Naughty Pony.
We started off pretty well -- we did about 15 minutes of fairly calm walking to warm up. Salem was a bit of a lookie-loo, but that's not unusual as of late. He's going through a bit of a "testing" phase, where he tries reeeaally hard to find something to spook at. It's just your typical greenie behavior and nothing major. We did lots of circles and serpentines and ground rails to keep Salem occupied and focused.
After the walk, I took him into the arena and picked up a trot tracking left. I could feel a bit of a hump in his back and he was doing the up-and-down bouncey trot as opposed to a forward trot but, again, I was not surprised given the circumstances. We probably trotted about ten minutes and I could feel Salem starting to loosen up.
We reversed and did a few walk/halt transitions, and Salem was listening well. Unfortunately, Luis then decided to turn out the evening-shift horses, even though it was still early. He started with Lafitte, who took off bucking and galloping like a bat out of hell. Salem grew about two feet and started snorting like a velocaraptor. Awesome.
I figured I needed to get Salem occupied, so I asked for a trot. Apparently, there is a new definition for trot, because Salem started flinging his head around, crow-hopping, and bouncing around in a jarring, pogo-stick trot. He wanted to go up instead of forward and he was throwing his head around like crazy. So, I sat deeper, squeezed with my calves, and touched the spur to his sides in order to get him forward. It just was not happening. I tried a few more times, but by then all of the evening horses were turned out and running around like idiots. I decided to simplify the equation and ask for a quiet walk. I got a somewhat-quiet walk twice around the arena and then decided to jump off.
Now, I am usually all for riding through stupidity, and 99% of the time I do. But I know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em and, given all of the factors, this was definitely a time to fold. I got out the longe line and worked Salem for about 45 minutes, and I'm glad I did because he was full of spit and vinegar.
So today -- I figured, okay, we got all that extra energy out of his system. He'll be fine. Again, we started off well. I asked for the trot. He side-passed, bucked, kicked out, pogo-sticked, and started throwing his head up and back. I actually thought he might rear. Again, I figured, it was stupid to keep fighting, so I got off and decided to longe the tar out of him.
We did a half hour on the longe, just enough to get out all of his extra energy. I made him do a lot of cantering and he was sweaty when I finally let him stop. Problem solved, right? I got back on and asked for the trot. Salem started up his antics again, at which point I started to get a bit ticked. He was certainly not just full of energy -- he thought he had my number.
HA! Little does Salem know that I have ridden more than my fair share of super bratty horses. I can growl with the best of them! And, since I knew that Salem was really testing me, I needed to show him that I am The One Who Wears The Pants In This Relationship and he must do what I ask of him. I certainly didn't beat him into submission or anything -- I just kept my leg ON, with a bit of spur, and yelled and growled at him like a rabid mountain lion. He kept testing and testing and then finally gave up. We got about five minutes of nice trotting in each direction and I decided to call it a day. I had made my point -- being a Head-Flinging Demonic Pogo-Stick Pony does not get you out of work. In fact, it gets you way more work and NO peppermints.
Now, I just want to point out that Salem is usually a very good boy. He has a great attitude and I think he actually enjoys working. But he's a young, athletic, green-as-grass Thoroughbred, so of course he's going to have some "moments." Thankfully, these are few and far between -- although, I realize that it might seem like he's always naughty because I always write about his bratty episodes. There aren't a whole lot of "we had a good, boring ride today" because, let's face it, that's not as exciting to read! Sprinklerbandit made that same point recently, and it's true -- the antics always make for a more entertaining blog!
So, we'll see if he remembers this lesson tomorrow. Fingers crossed, I will have the regular old Sane Salem back. For now, I am off in search of some much-needed medicinal chocolate.
5 hours ago