Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Bardy Lad

I am going to have to write this, even if it is with gritted teeth.
I love Barnaby, I adore him,
he is my perfect horse, my one and only,
he is doing my head in
He cannot, and/or will not bend his neck properly!
There, I've said it.
If you want to go straight, he's your man.
I defy a draughtsman with a ruler to achieve a straighter line.
But ask this boy to bend to the right, and you've got no chance.

I got to the swearing stage last week. There we are, I admit it. We live in the only flat part of Derbyshire and I imagine my fishwife voice echoed across the plain. I am sorry.
But what the heck am I supposed to do?
The other thing that's really annoyed me is that I've put a 'distressed' post on my favourite forum and nobody has come forward with any suggestions or advice. Normally it's really good on there, and I feel quite let down. I only got the usual response, 'Get his back and teeth checked.' Now I'll be honest, I've got our lovely back lady coming out on June 18th, the earliest she can get here, but if one more person says, 'Get his back and teeth checked,' I'll scream. As if I hadn't thought of that.
When Barnaby first became mine, I was so thrilled, I didn't really care about his way of going. He is the safest hack you could ever wish for, and that's all I was bothered about. I knew Mr O let him cavort about the countryside in a very hollow manner, but that I'd be able to cure it, and I have. Our first few sessions in the school went swimmingly, because I was quite content to bimble about and just work on getting him off his forehand, which, to give him his due, he has, and is a lot lighter and softer in my hand.
It's like when you have those first few driving lessons, and you're full of confidence, thinking, "I can drive!" without realising the instructor is doing most of the work and has all of the control. Then after a while they release some of that control to the pupil and it all goes pear shaped. Barnaby is a bit like that. I am now asking for more than a 20m circle, and he can't do it to save his life.
When I am on the right rein (going anti-clockwise to those without horses) he swings his head over to the left constantly and sticks his right leg out. This is fairly bad in walk, awful in trot, and downright dangerous in canter, as he is virtually unsteerable (if there is such a word - there is now, okay?!)
So I am trawling the internet for advice, and I've turned to some of my tried and tested books. All of them say lungeing is beneficial, and I can see that it is. I lunged him on Saturday before getting on, and he was a lot more supple. I think I use lungeing as a last resort, or think of it just as 'exercise,' a handy thing to do in the winter, but I've underestimated the benefits to the horse. I don't find it boring, but I do feel I've given up a riding session for a lungeing session, does that make sense?
So I am going to have to lunge him a lot more often. It won't be his favourite thing, but I am struggling to ride him in a way that's beneficial to him. So the crunch is, I think I am going to have to have some lessons because I am sick of fannying about. The frustration is killing me.
The main things are:

1. When I ride him on the right rein, he looks over to the left. This leaves me with a loose rein on the left, and I don't know what to do with it to make him straight.

2. He leans to the outside going round corners. I am not capable of making him look where he's going. This is Mr O's fault for always letting him do it, but it's no use blaming him now. I'm more interested in how to sort it out.

Even writing it down like this is helping me to think, but it's making me really angry, too! I'm obviously having 'one of those days.' I either need a more experienced person to ride him for me or lessons. The only thing now is to decide who to ask...
I hope it goes without saying that any advice that you may have would not just be gratefully received, at this stage it would be fallen upon and devoured!
I am going upstairs now, to stick my head under the pillow and have a bit of a scream! Then I'm going to go out and play with the ducklings - that's bound to cheer me up.


  1. Well, now I understand why someone described my 'all you need to know about MOP buttons' post as 'slightly scary' - it is incredible to realise that there are whole worlds of knowledge out there about which you know Absolutely Nothing! I feel for you and dear Barnaby, but boy, do I know less than nothing about your problem... Very best of luck, and do tell us what you and he come up with! Then at least I'll know just a little Something about horses.

  2. This is a similar issue to another horse of mine. Let me tell you about it. He is a gelding, about 6 or 7, not sure, but he has a really great action as long as he goes forward. Turn him right, and he`s ok, turn him left and he couldnt do it. I was advised to do the following tests:
    1, stand the horse on hard level ground.
    2, have the horse held with his head forward.
    3, then palpate his spine, using your fingers, first down the left side of the spine and then the right.
    If there is tension on one side more than the other, he may have a weaknes in one of the legs at that diagonal? With me so far? So if the right side of the spine is tense. It will be either the left front or right rear.
    And vice versa.
    Also, he just, as you say, needs schooling again, but starting from the basics, with regard to circles and turning.

    I broke my back 5 years ago in two places. As a result my horse was out of work, for some time. During which she had an accident. This resulted in damage to her musculature on the right front area of the spine. I had to go right back to basices with her, as when I did get get well, and tried her out, she started to run on, and would not turn to the left!
    The vet could not find any reason for it, as she showed no pain when manipulated etc. So a long time friend and excellent harseman, took me on.
    We started with ground work, yes we went that far back! Then we had the saddles checked, and one re built! Then we refitted them and tried them out very carefully.
    Anyway, she still ran out when we got to a trot etc, finally we were at a loss as to what the problem was.
    It came to us, as we watched the mare on our digital video camera with me riding her. She would ride the arena clockwise with her head in the correct position, but riding to the left she was showing signs of discomfort in the body.
    Now this may seem odd, but as she had been checked out by the vet and had no injuries. The only conclusion we came to was that it could be remembered pain! Horses apparently have this, and favour the side or part of the body that was injured, and they dont want it to hurt again.
    So what we then did was to train her on the left. Slowly, and by giving her confidence in that she wouldnt feel pain. It took 6 months! But I have my old horse back!
    Hope this makes sense. Try and see if there is any discomfort, ask your selves has the horse been injured, even slightly on that side of the body, recently or even some time ago. Failing all this, the horse could just be taking the P***!

  3. Have you tried some neck stretching exercises on the ground? Or am I doing the blatently obvious bit? He may find it difficult to bend his neck physically so a bit of neck bending with tidbit rewards may loosen him up a bit. Have you heard of equine touch? I have had loads of success with it it also may help him get a bit more relaxed and flexible in his neck. But I would do the groundwork flexing and see if that helps. Bloomin frustrating creatures aren't they!! Jx

  4. As I know nothing at all about horses, apart from the fact that my hubby spends too much money on them via William Hills etc, your post has made me smile imagining a horse taking the p*** as Cheyenne said.

    Here is a link to some You Tube tutorials on how to make the Bookatrix card

  5. sorry the link hasn't worked so you'll have to copy and paste :o(

  6. Thanks for your comments, Cheyenne and MrsP (nothing against non-horsey types, it's just that I really appreciate the advice given above!) I have a McTimoney practitioner coming out next Friday. She is truly excellent so I'll be interested to hear what she comes up with. It just isn't going to be an overnight process, so I'm going to have to learn to be patient. I don't want to upset Barnaby or make him dislike going in the school, so I need to make it as fun and stress free as possible for him (as he is the love of my life!)

  7. Margaret, thankyou for the Youtube link, I will definitely be checking it out.

  8. Have you tried tying his head to his tail? I don't think it will work but remember reading Pat Smythes autobiography and she did that to one of hers. Ofcourse that was atleast 60 years ago, might be classed as animal cruelty these days


I love to hear from visitors, so please let me know you dropped by, and I will visit you as soon as I can.