Well, I was actually thinking much fouler language than that! Due to two days of downpours, Owen has been off and today the ring had dried out enough to be usable. Owen had been shut up during the rains and he was not at all pleased about this...first, he took a big bite out of his room mate, Renegade, and then he managed to get his cribbing collar turned upside down which allowed him to resume his self destructive behavior.
And I had just fooled myself into believing that the underside of his neck was beginning to look a little less hypertrophic. So I cranked down on the tightness of the collar.
I've been trying to get him tuned up since Michelle will be staying a few days with us this week before the ISSO weekend and she is going to ride him, but at this rate, I just might let her take him home to Canada with her! After a quick little warm up I thought I'd knock out the 4-3 test as a confidence builder, and the first 90% of it rode just fine...half passes, pirouettes, extensions, all came without effort. But the last movement is a canter across the diagonal with *you guessed it* tempi changes. Owen blew through the first change, set his jaw, flipped his head...and took off across the diagnonal! It took some serious sawing to get him back, and I don't like to admit to such heavy use of the reins but sometimes you do need to get in the horse's face to stop him. We tried to repeat the diagonal, and once again Owen dropped his back and bolted. So we worked on riding very short diagonal with a single flying change prior to reaching the far side...if Owen took off he would run into the arena rim. He did eventually cool down and allowed me to do a single change when crossing the center line in both directions, but no way no how was he going to do more than one.
So, I headed out the field to give myself endless room to school them, and once again he turned into a 15 hand thunderbolt, so I settled down deeper into the saddle and mentally steeled myself for some seriously intense work. I changed direction and cantered away from the barn, and presto! Owen did three changes in a row without so much as flipping an ear, even tho' we were cantering down a slight incline which should have increased the difficulty. When I returned to the barn my sister took one look at me, exhausted and drenched in sweat, and Owen, who was not breathing hard and hadn't turned a hair, and said, "that doesn't bode well."
So, the questions is, does Owen truely fear the changes or is he just being a bully? I'm riding in a loose ring snaffle with no spurs...so what is he complaining about? I've had two other vets examine him, and there's no physical reason why he can't do them.
Do I just quit and hand Owen off to be a 3rd level schoolmaster for someone else?