Okay, so the other day, the Cowpokes and I went for a horseback riding lesson. I was going to ride but Ozzie has been off, so I didn't have a horse. Then when I went to load up Pearl, my kids' horse, she had an abscess the size of Texas on her elbow, so we couldn't ride her. So, that left Big Cowpoke on Peanut. But this post isn't about Big Cowpoke on Peanut, it's about how NOT to do rollbacks and how NOT to approach the first barrel.
We went to the lesson with my father in law and his grandson. His grandson, aka D, is 13 years old and is riding Fancy. Fancy is 12 years old and was a ranch horse before she became D's playday horse a year ago. Now onto the lesson. I started taking pictures just so D could have some pictures of him riding Fancy. But then the lesson kinda went south and I stopped taking so many. It was just plain ugly. The trainer had been trying to teach D how to do rollbacks. D had told me how he hates doing rollbacks because they are hard. I thought, "Rollbacks are so much fun!! That is one of the most fun things to do on a horse!" So, the trainer gave D instructions on what to do and off they went....... Yep, at a canter, then into a gallop, and then.........PUT ON THE BREAKS!!!! You see in this picture that Fancy knew it was coming. She could feel D change his position, Fancy actually started to put her butt under her to start stopping. Let's zoom in on that picture a bit. See her hocks getting up under her. Follow the Blue arrows!! She was actually starting to walk a bit with her front legs. Fancy was going into a nice stop. Then look at the red arrows. What in the WORLD is going on on top of that horse!! First thing, the rider's rear end is no where near the seat of the saddle. Second thing, the rider's spurs are DUG into the horses side, obviously no leg release stop there. Third thing, What in the world is going on with his hands? Really, what is he doing up there? Okay now lets move on..... SLAM ON THE BREAKS!!!!! OUCH is all I can say!! Let's start with the blue arrows. Fancy's hocks are nicely under her but her head is WAY up in the air due to the fact that there is a HUGE ported bit in her mouth that she doesn't like and has a tie down on so she can't avoid it. Her nice "walking" out of the front legs turned into a slam halt. Look at the red arrows. What in the WORLD is the rider's spurs STILL doing in the horses sides???? And what is the Rider thinking of when he pulled on those reins? I just want to rip the kids' hands off for pulling on that horse like that. Fancy was ticked. But wait, there's more!! They try to do a "rollback". OMG!!! WHY oh WHY are they turning into the fence? Do you want Fancy to move her but or move her front end? Tell me....where is a horse's rear end supposed to be while doing a rollback? Well, I can tell you this much, it's not supposed to be moving around the front end of the horse!! And what is going on with the Rider's left leg? Is the rider not turning to the right? So, why then is the left leg WIDE OPEN? For once the spur should be on the horse and the right leg should be wide open! And the hands, oh the hands, please someone stop those hands!!! But if that wasn't pretty enough, let's do it again, this time the opposite direction! But wait, what is this? What is going on? Why won't Fancy move? Well, it's because she is fed up with the stupid rider on her back!! That is why she refuses to go again. Fancy just couldn't take it any longer! Oh there are so many questions in that picture as to what in the world is going on there? (Good girl Fancy, Stand still it's safer!!) But to no avail, the spurs and whip were a bit worse than standing still, so Fancy was off again. And stopped again........ Oh dear........there goes those hands again, and that stupid bit again, and that stupid tie down, and what in the world is that crop doing way up in the air? And why are the rider's hands so far apart and so far up in the air? Ugh......it wasn't a pretty site. And to think, I LOVE doing rollbacks, but this was just painful. And another into the fence rollback. I do know that there are reasons to turn into the fence when doing a rollback, but this was not one of those cases. The Trainer was saying she was "using the fence" to help them. When I use the fence when I am "fencing" I am running my horse "into" the fence to help with stopping and then I turn their rear towards the fence to help with keeping their rears in place. The fence is a nice cheater when starting out rollbacks.
Those are all the pictures I took of the rollbacks. Fancy actually stopped after that last one. She would not budge. She was mad and wasn't taking it anymore. So the Trainer got on and pretty much spurred and whipped until the mare moved. She didn't get much better rollbacks out of the horse. The end result of the rollbacks......swollen sides and a bloody nose from the tie down, and bloody corners of Fancy's mouth from the bit. Then it was onto barrels. Oh you barrel racers are going to LOVE this. They just walked and trotted them at first. Then they went up a bit in speed. D has been having trouble with the first barrel. They are going too wide around it or they cut it short and knock it over. So, I will show some pictures and you can just comment on what you think........... What do you think happened here? That actually doesn't look too bad......... Oh dear, didn't see that comping.....cough cough. But laugh about it okay, because it was funny, now get your whip out and smack the crap out of your horse while cracking up and riding like a fish out of water!! Then there is the stop!! Yeah, there is no wonder Fancy had a sore back the next day. Ouch!! Now back to the first barrel. The first picture actually isn't too bad. I think his hand is a but far out but really not too bad. Poor Fancy was just trying her heart out. She never once during the entire ride kick out, buck or rear. She gave it all she had. I did ride Fancy the day after the lesson. I didn't wear spurs and I put her in a snaffle bit with a training fork. We walked and trotted on the fence line. We worked on leg release stops and backing. She was happy not to be yanked on. She would lick and chew after every stop and back. I gave her a rub down. And believe it or not, but after about 10 minutes or riding, she caught on to the leg release stop and she was doing rollbacks. It's amazing what happens when the rider goes back to basics and tries to figure out what's going on.
I just had to figure out why she wasn't stopping. And it was because she didn't know how to stop with out someone yanking on her face. And she did rollbacks, beautiful ones, after I got her to sit back on her hocks and walk with her front legs.
Today I am working with D and Fancy on leg release stops and on fencing. We are going to break it all down so D and Fancy can say, "I love doing rollbacks!".