I am full of doubt.
During this trip, Brego has turned into a fire-breathing monster. The old Brego was always a handful, but when he resisted, and that was often, it was with a headshake and an angry look. The new Brego resists by Levade and Capriole. I am not excited about this development.
We had an early start leaving Nashville and since it was going to be a 12 hour day, I hand walked Brego before he got on the trailer. He had been stalled pretty much non-stop for a week at this point, between training, the trailer, and our overnight stays. He was busting at the seams and had a hard look in his eye.
When I asked him to trot beside me in the 5 am dark, he exploded -- jumping, rearing, squealing. I immediately corrected him and made him back out my space, but it was ugly. I then longed him around me by his halter and leadrope, asking for walk to trot to walk transitions over and over. A few more bucks and he started to listen. Even through his freak out, he never took the slack out of the lead rope. He maintained a perfect 7' circle around me, head at vertical, really lovely. Too bad he was being a shit.
When I sensed him start to realize I was sans whip and gloves, I asked for a halt and we went back to hand walking. I was not about to let him find out I had brought nothing to this fight. We ended the mini training session with another trot in hand and this time he pinned his ears, but remained silent.
The most troubling thing about all this is the aggression. Brego has always tested, always been 20% resistant to work, always shown his anger at being put in place. He's a dominant horse who obeys, but not always willingly. He's not a labrador who lives to please. He enjoys being a good boy but at his convenience. Although I am a lazy person, I have a strong enough will to work through these issues with him, so they never distract from our relationship.
But this new behavior is not his usual game. It's bigger and more powerful and much more dangerous. I find myself never taking my eye off him, never relaxing, and that's not what I want or need. I don't need a full blooded dressage horse who is always on the edge of brilliance or disaster. I need a horse I can spend my days with and has moments of occasional brilliance.
I think the dressage training has not only tuned him up, but fried him a little. It's a lot of work to do in a short 6 weeks for a basic pasture puff. He's moving incredibly for him, but he seems distant and angry. He's not talking to me at all.
We are stopping for two days in Purcellville, Virginia, near Middleburg (the heartland of eventing in the US). He and Hobby will hang out in private, lush pasture on one of the most gorgeous farms I have ever seen and get some much needed down time. When he got off the trailer, after a 12 hour ride, he ran the field, bucking and farting for 45 minutes. I was afraid he was going to charge the fences, but he stayed contained... barely. Again, not my Brego. But maybe some time to burn off steam will ease his brain.
I hope so, this reunion has not been a lot of fun.
Monday, April 21, 2008
I am full of doubt.