Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Madonna bucked with me today!

It's totally my fault. It's spring and I haven't been riding. She will never be advertised as "toss her out in the field for six months and ride her off bareback with just a halter...."


I am too old, too fat, and too bent to deal with that stuff.


I rode it. Wish you could see the smirky grin on my face right now. Yes, it's a bit smug, but give me my moment.

Funny thing though.

I haven't had my right arm for 16 years. My first instinct is still to grab for the horn. It took three swooshes past the horn before it occurred to me I might be better off finding my middle instead of trying to pull leather, especially when all I get is air.

Which got me thinking. How do I need to adapt? I have  a couple of good, reliable, but lively horses. I am capable of riding them, but I don't need to be dealing with Ol' Snort N' Buck anymore either. Okay, I'm grinning again, so sue me.

As a kid, when a horse bucked with me, I laughed, dug in and actively pushed it to buck until the sucker was too tired to screw with me anymore.

Once I became a trainer, I learned to push the horse through and get that bad boy working. and working hard.The lesson was soon learned that bucking only increased the horse's workout . Well behaved bunnies were resting and enjoying early dinners.

These days...I'm not in shape. Definitely not enough to ride a rowdy horse into sweat-soaked submission. I'd like to think I can get it back, but I'm not 100% sure I'm still capable of riding at that level of intensity. The PD still marches on.

In this particular circumstance, I put her into a spin. We spun hard and fast to the left, hard and fast to the right and lope departed left.

The second she started to sull up again I repeated the drill.

It worked.

Here's why.

For Madonna, a spin is so familiar she'll go into it automatically. Spins are hard work. I read once, written by somebody I believed, that a spin is the equivalent of a large, fast circle in a reining pattern, as far work, muscle strain and energy.

By putting her in a spin  I was working her hard, but I was safer than trying to lope her out of it.

It got her focus back, stopped her from putting me on my head, and in about two minutes, we were loping.

I worked small circles and concentrated on keeping her shoulders level and her hindquarters reaching. This conveniently made it hard for her to buck.

When she was loping with a steady cadence and a relaxed neck, poll, mouth and ears, and no longer had her tail curled over her back like a Malamute, I quit.

She was still snorty and ready to rock and roll, but at that moment, she was lovely. The entire ride lasted about 20 minutes, and I hung out and visited until she was somewhat calmer.

I'm going to think on this some more, but I think I'm on the right track. The ride ended well, I had her brain, at least in spurts, and tomorrow will better. The best part is, she won't be sore and I won't be too exhausted to get my hiney out to the barn and on my rotten mare.

This is giving me an entire new line of thought and I'm excited.



  1. Joyce Reynolds-WardMay 20, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    Grin. You've come across my Mocha stall rest exercise survival tool.

    Long story short: white line disease, farrier mandates exercise but no turnout because of bar shoe, I blow my thumb so ground driving isn't an option, but lots of bareback work at the walk is called for (not even saddle weight allowed on that bar shoe, due to how he had to trim it). Mocha's got a pretty good mind, but we're almost at six months now. Let's just say that the spin is a very useful tool for cranky stalled mares who like to work. ;-)

    I got that idea from you, I think--either schooling Sonita or Madonna, where instead of doing rollbacks you'd do a spin and keep on the circle on the same lead. Worked wonderfully well for sharpening Mocha's spins.

  2. My thirtysomething brain loved a good buck.. my fiftysomething brain looks for ways to avoid riding out a buck.

    I love the mental image of you grabbing for the horn.. will cause me to giggle next time I am riding and I reach for the horn..

    And folks will look sideways at me and wonder what the heck is going on in my brain this time ;)

  3. Any way to adapt by lunging for 10 or 20 minutes before riding? Is lunging without the horse on a lunge line a possiblility? What about a corral turn out so they can run a bit first? Anyone you trust who is in a position to "horse share" and ride your horses on a regular basis so they have no ya-ya's to have to get out?

  4. I have always hate hate hated when they buck. Mostly because I don't often stay on. I wonder if I ever had the split second brains to decide to ride it out instead of trying to stop it, if I could stay on. Anyways… fussy little mare has never bucked anybody off in her life but she gets jittery every now and then, and turning her in tight circles really works. Not sure if it keeps her brain busy, or her body, or both, but it keeps my ass in the saddle and that's where I want it.

    Although it is a buzz to have that smirk when you stay on your bucking snorty beast!!!

  5. Anon - There is nothing wrong with any of those options, none of them are my choice though.
    I'm going to be exploring old lady riding a lot more, and I'll touch on all of these points.

  6. Joyce Reynolds-Ward - I love that exercise,I use it to tune a bunch. To sharpen my cow work I spin and take off in the opposite lead.

  7. "I'm excited..." Nuff said.

    Happy you are Happy.

  8. I am an old lady rider, and sometimes responder to your posts, but they are always thought provoking and interesting. Thanks

  9. So, Mugs...anxious to hear how the next ride went. Was she better? Did you have to repeat your drill, or did it carry over? Asking because I have Madonna in an Arab body, and going through the same thing...