Posted by: shannonc | February 23, 2010


Have you ever played pinball?  You know how you sometimes trap the ball with one of the flippers, then give it a little bounce and time a great big THWACK for when the ball is coming back down?  The pony played pinball with me yesterday.  Seemed like I was kissing the ground before it even began.

Now, I should probably thank the little monster, because if there’s one good way to eliminate a trial saddle, that’d be it.  Doesn’t even matter if it was the saddle that made him buck like that – I sure didn’t stick in it!

Like practically everything with horses, it seems, you can come up with a half dozen possible explanations:  sore from work; doesn’t want to work; February; saddle hurts; pissed about whip; monster in the bushes.  That’s without even trying.  And then, like practically everything with horses, it seems, you sift through them and settle on an answer that makes sense at a gut level.

This pony has not bucked with me – really bucked – since probably the first week I had him in 2007, in one of our very first rides, when I was trying to figure him out.  He does a little hop and a headshake when he’s having fun, and sometimes a little kick out at my leg when I push him in the canter.  Handstands for sport (this one even had an aerial right twist much like a bull move)?  Not really my pony.  The only serious bucking I have ever seen him do under saddle has been defensive.

Not normally sensitive about the whip.  Not normally unworkmanlike – there could be a little ‘tude there, but this was pretty big ‘tude.  Normally, he is slightly lazy, but also eager to please.  The pinball act took place in the left canter:  he felt very balled up and fell behind my leg, I kicked then tapped him and voila, explosion.

My first thought was, is he going to run off (there’s no fence around the ring)?  My second thought was, I must be bound and determined to ruin this nice velvet hat.  My third thought was – maybe now I get to replace it! 

Clearly, I was badly hurt :)

Me: *hobbling to my feet with great humility and contemplating left butt cheek and hip replacement* Pony?

Pony: *looks at me out of the corner of his eye from the center of the ring*

I approach and he is still but I swear to you he cowers, like he thinks I’m going to unleash on him.  I have never in my life unleashed on a horse after falling.  I think correction at that point is way too late.

I always have that moment in which I think, what just happened was slightly scary and definitely not fun, and I’d really rather not remount; and my brain flashes through possible evasions…which is some kind of inevitable auto-process, because I know the whole time that if I haven’t broken anything, I have to get back on. 

It’s like that moment in the start box when you wonder why the hell you are doing this crazy thing.  Running at speed over solid jumps?  When exactly did I get the bright idea this was going to be a good time?

Pony: *stands quietly while I mount from the ground and take up the reins right away*

Me:  okay pony, back to work.  And *attempting to convince self* I mean it.

I put the pony together immediately and ask for a short marching walk (with the whip as reinforcement – no overreaction), a couple of figure-8s at trot (because there is no way I am going to let him loose on a straightaway right now), and he seems fine.  I get a very animated trot, actually, and consider for one microsecond bucking as a path to better dressage scores.  He relaxes once he realizes I’m not going to kick his butt but he doesn’t get to saunter off for a nice cup of tea either.  I get a fairly nice right canter, then change direction and prepare to ask for the left again somewhere in the ring away from the bucking site.

Pony: *sucks back and balls up*

Me:  maybe you are really trying to tell me something here.

I back off the canter and ask for a minute or two of good trot work, which he gives me.  Then I dismount, pat him, walk him back to the trailer and change saddles.

For the first time in our lives together the pony does not ask for a treat while standing at the trailer.  Maybe this is his idea of contrition.  Really, can you help feeling a little hurt when your horse unceremoniously dumps you?  I retack up in the Link II, giving myself a couple minutes of intensive pity party, thinking entirely like a human and nothing like a pony:  don’t you love me, pony?  would *I* ever hurt *you*??

Then I shake it off, go back down to the ring, and realizing I can’t put too much more work on him because he isn’t fit yet, proceed almost directly to the problem, aaaand…  the left canter is fine.

Seems like a pretty good reason to not buy the Spirig to me.  For the life of me I don’t know where it was bothering him, but I’m going to trust him that he didn’t like something about it. 

Too bad – it was the most affordable saddle I had on my plate!

To cover my bets I gave him a little bute last night (although I palpated his back and found no reactive spots), and I’d already signed him up for a session with my favorite equine chiropractor, Gretchen Ham, because I have been getting a little tail swishing, head shaking and lead swapping at the canter — ironically, the *other* canter.

Does anyone have a version of Pony that comes with a manual yet??



  1. Sorry about your fall! From the pictures you posted the other day, it looked to me (and my untrained but constantly learning eye) like the saddle was sitting too high in front (the front panels weren’t really around him) so was likely not wide enough. That pinching action can make him feel super uncomfortable. My horse did the same sucking up into a little ball and then a big buck when her back was saddle sore. Good luck on the saddle search!!

  2. ouch!

    I really wish they came with manuals, because every time I think I have it figured out the next one proves me wrong. *sigh*

  3. Naughty pony!

    Glad you’re okay though!!!!!

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