My 4th ride on MerryLegs went superb. We practiced our walk/whoa transitions, did some straight lines and he seemed to understand when I wanted to turn. Things were looking good.

On Saturday, I rode at a walk for about 15 minutes. I decided to ask for a trot. I tried the ride before, but he didn’t do it, and I didn’t push it. This time, I was more determined. I said the word, squeezed my legs, got nothing and continued to squeeze. Next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. He had turned into a bucking bronco.

I was bruised and battered—and blind. Ellen found my glasses for me, and I wanted to get back on. When I lifted my foot to the stirrup, he started to buck, again. Now, I knew I had a problem. I led him around to get him to settle down. When he seemed quiet, I took him to the mounting block. I pulled at the stirrup, flopped my body over his back—and did all the stuff you would do to accustom horse to being ridden. I eased on his back and had him stand. So far, so good. I dismounted and did it all again. Kevin was by my side. I asked him to walk, but immediately, it didn’t feel right. I tried to stop him, but he refused. before I knew it, I was flying through the air, again.

I was more bruised and battered—and done. No more riding MerryLegs that day, or for a while.

It seemed to me, that the first bucking incident was related directly to the leg pressure. My guess is the second incident was caused by him being upset about the first one.

To say I was discouraged, despondent, depressed and just plain down is an understatement. Did I make a really big mistake? Is this why he was a free horse. I dind’t think Mrs. Shoes and MerryLeg’s trainer was lying to me. What was I going to do?

I immediately decided that I wouldn’t consider riding again for at least a month. I needed to do more groundwork and come up with a plan—and heal. I din’t break anything, but I am extremely sore in the posterior area. My tailbone was unscathed, but the muscles around it are very bad. There is no way I could manage any challenging riding in this state. I’m lucky I can even ride Cole.

Then next day, we had a very productive lounging session. I had him saddled and bridled. When we stopped, I tried pressing my hand firmly on his side where my leg would go, and he cringed and started to back up. Ah hah! I then tried light pressure, and he stood still. I clicked/treated. I kept repeating—adding pressure—until I had it as heavy as before. He was good. The clicking really helps with desensitization. I then did the same on the other side.

I am not going to give up, but I must concede I may not succeed.

I then emailed his trainer to see if she had this problem and what she did to overcome it.

She did, but only the first time she asked him to trot. He never did it again, but she also learned to ask mainly with her voice and her seat. So, that confirmed my theory that it was the leg pressure that set him off. The good news is that this wasn’t a chronic problem that she struggled with—this gives me hope.

I will get him to be terrific with his trot transitions from voice command, desensitize him to pressure in any way I can think of and hopefully, I will be able to go beyond it. I must confess, asking him to trot is a rather terrifying idea, but I will have to do it, eventually. He is such a good horse, in many ways. I really hope I can work this out.

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Comment by Jackie Cochran on June 30, 2015 at 3:20pm

You might want to have a vet look closely where you do your leg aids. 

Ribs can be fragile.  I have heard of birth causing a broken rib, and there are always those kicks from other horses.  Such an explosive reaction suggests a sudden great pain.  Yes, you can get a horse "used" to the pain, and you can use other aids in place of the leg aid, but I still think it might be a good idea to rule out an imperfectly healed injury in the place where you use your leg aids.

I hope you heal up soon! 

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