Last week I asked Bridget to humor me when she rode PJ. You see, PJ always spooks at the same exact place in the ring – EVERY TIME – regardless of whether there is anything going on outside. He doesn’t do it with me every time but then again, he doesn’t really spook with me, just looses concentration.
I had been doing a lot of thinking about why he hasn’t gotten over it and then the Tik clinic confirmed what I had surmised – that PJ was not spooking at something outside of the ring, but he was anticipating getting reprimanded by Bridget for spooking at that spot. Tik’s lesson was to just continue with your plan when something goes awry (like a spook). Bridget sends PJ forward, rather forcibly, when he starts to suck back before the spook. For many horses, Bridget’s method would work, but with PJ I’ve learned you can’t use pressure to get him to do something he really doesn’t want to do. And he really tries to do the right thing (he’s a good egg), so his spooking at the same spot all of the time never make sense to me.
So last week I asked Bridget to avoid the problem. Don’t go all of the way down the long side expecting him to not spook. Do a circle before the spot where he spooks, or maybe counter bend or something that is different than just going all of the way down the long side (he spooks at P). She did and the ride was uneventful but she didn’t get a lot done to advance his training.
Yesterday she rode him, and as I believed would happen, PJ was great. She still didn’t go all of the way down the long side, but he wasn’t stressed at all, so she was able to do a lot. I think it will only take a few more weeks of not asking for a problem before there is no problem and she’ll be able to go all of the way down the long side again.