Professional Help

The sass is strong with this one
To recap on with our summertime saga of Miss Fake Lame Mae, the vet had come out and drained a small infection in her hoof.  The farrier came out a few days later and replaced the shoe on said foot.  Both professionals proclaimed her to be sound all over.  So what happened when I rode her the next day?  Lame.  Lame lame lame for the entire hour long ride.  I wasn’t going to let her get out of the hack and reward her behavior.  And then of course, the next day with my trainer, she was perfect.  Trainer even sent video of Mae under saddle.  Zero lameness, zero issues.

Trainer on perfectly sound Mae

To which I responded by immediately scheduling a lesson.  Work schedule be damned.  My patience had run out, and we were going to nip this in the bud.

So when I saddled her up and walked to the large outdoor arena with my trainer, I wasn’t surprised when Mae didn’t take a wrong step.  There wasn't even the slightest hitch in her step.

We had a lovely flat lesson, and my trainer showed me a few tricks that she had been working on.  I could engage the outside rein, inside leg (softly) to make her body completely rounded along my inside leg.  I could also engage the outside rein (quite hard) to make her drop her head and lift her back, then immediately softening my hands, she would work, by herself, with her head held in a lovely position.  We also worked on my body positioning and balance during the canter.  At this point, we’re continuing to two-point the canter, but Mae’s body is strong enough to balance both of us during a steady canter.  I have a long torso and tend to tip forward, and I have to work on not leaning on her neck.

And then the pièce de résistance of the ride.  Asking Mae to back up.

My Ryon would back up willingly with just a few taps on the shoulder with my leg.  Mae freezes in place.  All the veins in her neck and chest bulge, and she plants her front feet and locks her joints.  With me on her back, she wouldn’t take a single step back until my trainer started poking her in the chest with an umbrella.  The trainer had not gotten this type of resistance from her before, so she hopped on board with her flip flops and work out shorts.  Again, Mae froze and then seeking to dodge contact, spun and bunny hopped.  Trainer again asked her to back up, and when she finally figured out who was riding her, she acquiesced and did as she was asked.  My turn again.  I hopped on, sat back in my seat, and fluttered my outside rein.  No movement.  I tried again.  Mae dodged contact, reared up and spun on her two back legs, one direction then the other direction, which was the highest any horse has ever reared with me on board.  There was most certainly a moment where I was nervous she was going to fall backward and land on top of me.  I stayed on (practice your no stirrup flatwork!) and asked her again - fluttered outside rein and sat back.  This time she listened and backed up with no resistance.  We backed up for a dozen steps to reinforce the lesson and then called it a day.

Dramatic reenactment
We intended on doing jumps but after the exercise backing up, plus the 100 degrees temp, we ended on a good note and with both of us soaked in sweat.  Takeaways from the lesson?  Number one: a professional is there to help you.  They may not be right all the time, however they typically have more depth and breadth of experience than you do.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it - that’s what you pay them for.  Number two: Mae was treating me like mom and not as a serious rider.  In the arena, she would listen to me, when she wanted to and on her terms only.  After the battle yesterday and after she failed to ditch me, she settled down and really started to listen and respect me as a rider.  My trainer said Mae hasn’t pulled shenanigans like that with her before, ever.  “She is one sassy b*tch,” was the comment after the ride.  We’re going to take lessons more consistently to reinforce my status as rider AND mom.  Number three: Mae is five and an immature five.  She’s still very much a baby, still learning, and still throwing temper tantrums.  Patience and consistency is key.  If that doesn’t work, try beating her with a putting iron (note: it doesn’t work, you don’t get enough leverage).

Baby elephant throwing a tantrum

Author’s aside: I didn’t get any pictures from this ride, even though I would have loved to have captured her rearing up while I was on board.  She’s still developing and growing really nicely.  We measured her a few weeks ago and she is 16.3 hands at her shoulder and 17.0 hands at her butt (for context from the other pictured I’ve posted with her, I’m 5’7).  And here I thought I was getting a small horse.


  1. i <3 lessons, glad you're feeling good about them as part of your plan going forward!

  2. That's interesting, isn't it - how animals respond differently to different people.

  3. That's interesting how her work ethic just completely changes depending on whose on top. Glad you are nipping that in the bud and just not taking her shit.

  4. Wow, this is such an interesting story! It is great that you got professional help!


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