And there were words and questions just reeling and reeling. Was she mad? Was she startled? Is she a dirty bucker? Can you stop a buck? What might provoke a buck? Can I handle being bucked off? ....on and on.
The bucking did not jive with what I felt in saddle yesterday. It didn't jive then with what I'd always known of her. She wasn't a bucker, she was a backer. Any time Bee was scared, she'd back up--not kick out or buck. But she definitely bucked that evening. It was big.
And, I did see her buck a few times on the line, in saddle,--AFTER the bucking incident--which is perfectly normal for horse, but not so much for her. I didn't make a big deal about it, but continued to push her forward on the circle and she quit. Was that good enough to break a habit--if she'd formed one?
Tossing and turning (keeping my husband awake) I played the moments (my ride & my trainer's) over and over--and compared them to one another. Then I remembered--
I have it all on tape! I took a gazillion photos and a couple videos leading up to the buck. It seemed so smoothe--so boring even--I stopped taping--
right before the buck.
At 5:00 am, my eyes popped open. And, the first thing that came to my mind was--FIND THOSE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS!
I did, and now I'm going to reconstruct the evening here. I'm looking for data from Bee--warning signs--something to learn from. I AM NOT questioning my trainer, and I ask that you not either. It was Bee's 5th ride and she she hadn't shown any signs of bucking up to that day. My trainer took her time at every step and only proceeded to the next when she felt safe to do so. This is all about me analyzing my horse so that I can have a plan for future rides.
Here it goes:
When my trainer felt she was calm, she secured the panel, then she closed the door and sat on the wheel well of the trailer (from the outside) to observe Bee as I drove down the driveway. Bee was calm, so she gave me the thumbs up and we proceeded to the arena.
Unloading and walking to the roundpen.
Letting Bee check things out.
Bee is alert and looking at another horse we'd brought in a separate trailer. That horse is nineteen, but very scared in new situations, and he was acting up.
Allowing Bee to check out the tack and mounting block.
Bee is still alert.
She gets her moving again.
What do I see in Bee?
1. She's not giving 100% attention to the rider.
2. She's resisting transition to the trot.
3. She checks in with me and the other observer--another sign of distraction.
4. My trainer has the perfect amount of contact with her in the bit.
(not seen on video)
5. At the time of the buck, she was moving on the rail in a straight line.
6. Before the buck, she was moving at a trot, and she showed no signs of resistance or agitation.
7. The buck seemed to have come out of nowhere, as if it was purely involuntary.
8. After she was done bucking, she stood calm, my trainer remounted, and she rode on perfectly.
9. One added bit of info: this was the first time she'd been taken off our property in 9 years. That's pretty big.
How do I analyze that?
There are many times our horses aren't tuned into us 100%, but Bee is a green horse, and it's more important than ever that I have her undivided attention each step of the way.
I think, too, I will probably keep her in a circle for a while before letting her move out on straight lines--and then only short segments. She needs to practice bending and moving--and it is more difficult to buck in a circle.
I will also keep contact in the bit for now. I need to have that slight feel of her mouth at all times--if it becomes bracey, I know something is brewing, and I'm in a better position to pull her head up and around. It all gives her another level of support from me and reminds here that I'm up there. On that note, I'll continue to do some ground driving so that our communication through the bit becomes more and more rock solid on its own.
She needs lots of encouragement, so I'll stop her more often and give her praise and rest. She likes to please. Leah hates to be told "good girl", but Bee melts when she hears it.
She has to be introduced to going new places slowly. When I do trailer her away, the first few times I'll only pony her--no in saddle work. Bee is a horse that has to have each step solid before proceeding to the next--no holes.
Oh, and I'm going to do all of our work at the walk until she's solid carrying a rider and yielding to leg and bit. There's no reason for me to push her to the next gait before she's mastered the first.
I don't know if I'll face a buck from her someday-but I can sure narrow my chances with preparation. I'm pretty positive she did not do it to be mean or to fight. I believe wholeheartedly it was done instantaneously as a reaction to something that she perceived might hurt her.
I'm heading out this morning to ride her. I'm asking my husband to take some video which I'll share later.
My next post will recap everything I've done to train Beautiful Girl since the bucking incident. We've done quite a bit.