We’ve been having a little issue with forward lately. We’re really good at sideways and recently, backward too…
It all started at the cow clinic last month. Charm was very excited and nervous of the cows and since I was riding without my mecate reins.. I didn’t have a backup plan to reinforce what I wanted if I needed it..I would ask her to take a step closer to the cows and all I would get is backing or sideways… it’s understandable since she was in a very new and scary situation. BUT.. now she has started pulling that very same thing with me on trail rides. We took 2 wonderful trail rides this past week.. they both had one hiccup. Charm would come to a point in the ride and absolutely refuse to continue forward. I would get a great backup and sideways.. but no forward motion. We went down ditches and into yards and at some moments she felt as if she was going to go up. On the first ride I was using my cradle bridle and didn’t have a savvy string to insist that she move forward.. at one point I got off to see if she would lead forward.. yep.. no problem there.. but she would not respect what I wanted in the saddle! In the end, she had to be ponied off of Sofie’s 3 year old Bella (Seriously Charm!?!) We got through the troubled area and she was compliant the rest of our ride (besides walking a little fast).
I have had a hard time being able to tell if Charm is afraid or just being a brat. Lately I’ve given the the benefit of the doubt and went the fear route.. let her go slow.. didn’t push and it all turned out fine, but we wouldn’t progress with that issue really.. we’d just stay the same. I’ve come to the conclusion that she might just be being a brat! Always testing.. and her human is letting her.
With that said.. at the next trail ride, 2 days later.. I came prepared with my mecate. We took the same route as the last time and she started the same behavior again. But this time, as soon as I felt a “no” from her she got her hinder ticked. We had a 3 or 4 minute discussion. She backed into a field, and sideways everywhere.. She fought me.. but I insisted. My goal was to first point her in the direction I wanted her to move.. then I’d let her rest for a couple seconds. Then I would ask her to move forward.. if she gave me even one step I’d take it… but If I got any opposition.. TICK! She eventually decided it was a lot easier to move forward and we continued our ride. One thing that really helped was having Sofie and Jackie there for support. I knew that they would be patient and help me work through the situation no matter what. It really makes a difference when you ride with people you trust. They both said that she didn’t look scared (which helped me feel I could go there with Charm and work through it) and that also her eye totally softened as soon as she started moving forward again. It was a good lesson for the both of us. Getting through my fears little by little and it feels great!! 😀