Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Introducing horses to bonnets

I generally like to think of myself as a careful trainer, thinking about things from the point of view of the horse, trying to explain new exercises to the horse as carefully as I can...

And then I do things like buy Kat a bonnet in Vegas because I think it would look cute, then putting it on her, waiting about 25 seconds to see how she feels about it, and going for a ride.

She hadn't been actually ridden in almost a week (ugh the failed show) but our walk work was okay... if TENSE. There's been a lot of construction/tractor work going on and Kat was absolutely convinced that the tractor was going to reappear at any moment and eat her alive. Bend through it baby, leg yield into your fear, and just pay attention to me. Ignore the phantom tractor.

The trot was pretty good. It was inconsistent because she was trying to convince me that she had to look at everything, so I'd bend a little and leg yield some and circle and figure - 8 until she came back to me and started reaching into the bit, and then she'd get all, "the muscles in my neck have suddenly melted, please carry my face." And that wasn't really working for me so we'd ride some transitions, then some lengthenings/shortenings, then just work on like your basic half-halt until all of this was relatively round, consistent in the contact, and steady.

So at that point I'm thinking, "great! Nearly a week off and Kat hasn't really tried to kill me yet! Let's canter."

I give her the aid and she offers a LOVELY transition, totally round and quiet AND STRAIGHT (crazyyy). And then... the bonnet flaps on her face. And Kat has a total. meltdown.

The conversation looked like this:

"Kate. Something is hitting me. Let me show you." She proceeds to put her ears very close to my face while cantering (flailing?) in place.

"Uh, it's been there the whole ride. Can you not put your face so close to mine?"

"Oh, right, sorry." She brings her nose down, opens up her stride a little so we're actually going somewhere, and then feels the flapping edge of the bonnet again. "OH MY GOD KATE IT'S BACK WHAT DO I DO? DO I BUCK? I THINK I BUCK."

"No! No! Please don't buck, that's not helpful."

"Just a baby buck?"

"No, not even a baby buck."

"Okay." Kat goes back to cantering along like a normal horse. "OH MY GOD KATE IT HIT ME AGAIN LET'S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE." And she bolts down the long side, only to run into the dreaded puddle. "AND NOW MY FEET ARE WET."

 Long story short, we worked through it to the point where I got a quiet canter in both directions, both into and out of the canter, and we called it a day. I think I'll longe her in the bonnet a few times before riding her in it again. Jeez. Horses, amiright?

I'm going to have to do a Teach me Tuesday about "matching tack" someday...


  1. Lol, Kat!! That's hilarious. Meanwhile, I can't ride Connor without a bonnet even in the dead of winter, because if his hair touches his ears he slings his head around like a headshaker.

    1. How interesting... how early on did you figure out the hair bothered him?

  2. lolz poor Kat!! my mare won't really tolerate a bonnet either... she doesn't exactly melt down, but there is much head shaking. le sigh....

    1. Agreed, it's a heavy sigh moment. We'll see if through lunging Kat can acclimate.