|From Day 1; tentative smiles because we didn't know the|
amount of pain and hurt we'd be in for
So, a few additions:
During the time of the Anthony clinic, there was a despooking clinic going on with a NH trainer - lots of horses/trailers/people were at the grounds. It was a pretty busy atmosphere, as well as random loud noises would come from the indoor arena (loud bangs, yelling, music, etc).
Second point I forgot to add - when I noticed the boards had come loose, I pulled them off and stuck them in the stall beside Spud. I had briefly entertained the idea of moving my horses, but left them in the stalls instead and figured Annie would be pleased with herself for having an open space to see Spud anyways. I did go back and check Annie a second time that evening when I drove Show Buddy home from the birthday shenanigans. At that time no additional boards were loosened and Annie was eating her hay quietly. She did pace a bit when I walked up to her, but nothing overdramatic, more like "pls let me out of here." I had a hard time feeling bad for her tho, and the running joke was that I was going to leave her at the grounds forever. In fact, I made a lot of threats regarding Annie, haha.
** also note, I have TONS of media that isn't always relevant to the paragraph, so just... enjoy the pictures lol.
|I loved the angle the photographer got of the trot poles.|
Regardless, I made it down to the grounds after doing some running around in town and pulled Annie and Spud out a few hours before the lesson. Both were very eager to leave their stalls; Annie in particular was literally shivering with anticipation as I opened her stall door. I made her wait before walking over to the trailer and tying them far apart again.
Annie was fidgety at the trailer, but not as much as she had been the day previous. She was constantly whirling her head around, staring at passerbyers and just not paying attention. The behavior is more annoying than it is dangerous, especially when she whirls her haunches around and snags a bite of hay with a possessed look of eagles on her face. Like, just fucking stand and eat your hay. Relax. Cock a leg and stay a while. On this particular day, I didn't have the hay net set up because Annie had ate all of the hay I brought her (which is good!) and I figured standing tied without hay was a reasonable thing to ask anyways.
|Not very forward - mare felt exhausted this day, haha.|
Unfortunately for Annie, I had had enough of the shenanigans and silliness so I yanked the lead a few times to regain her focus (she was staring out at the other horses *head desk*) and MADE her pay attention to me and the speeds I was asking her to go. She received a few more jerks to the lunge line during the session but instead of cantering around staring at everything else but me, she started to settle her shit and gave me more focus.
|There was focus (and turning!!) here tho!!|
What a good bean!
She tied back at the trailer quietly and was great to tack up - no wiggling. After getting dressed and ready, I wandered over to the mounting block situated outside the arena. She did great standing quiet and walked off quietly when I asked.
Again, she felt tight and resistant in the bridle while we warmed up, but was compliant for the most part. I did wear spurs on this day because I was #dying. Once we finished warming up at the walk and trot - I did manage to get some steps of nice trot out of her where she felt reasonable in the bridle - and parked her a few feet away from riding buddy. She did try to casually move closer to SB and Riley, but I made her remain a few feet away.
|Testing the GO button.|
The lesson started out at the walk and morphed off of the previous day's lesson with instilling a slow/go button in the horses. Anthony instructed us to pivot the horse's inside front foot and maneuver it along the circle to be more in-tune with where we ask the horse to move. As we went into the trot, I felt Annie was very stiff and bracey, but worked with it. Anthony doesn't really like to see the horse's rounded up too much so I tried to keep a steady jumping contact vs dressage contact that I am used to doing with her. Her strides felt a bit choppy and uncoordinated, but we did manage to get her to swing a little bit. Certainly not as much as I have had in previous lessons though.
We did find again, that I am too loud with my aids and I have a hard time keeping my spur off of the horse. With short legs and the unfortunate habit of turning my toes outwards, it makes my spurs a bit of a problem. Part of me is curious if this had anything to do with Annie's resistance in the trot that day, or if she was just tired/sore.
|A more forward trot helped us get that lift|
in the trot poles - going too slow made Annie
We did a bunch of sitting trot as well and it made me hyper aware that Annie has the drift left problem going left as well - Anthony caught onto this and made a comment as to how when they drift left going left it is easier to fix and it will help me on the right side as well. We worked a lot at the trot in this lesson and worked hard to establish a go button and have Annie hold it herself. She backs off a bit when things change or when I ride more tentatively (see point below), so that's something I need to change.
Since we nailed the canters and showed aptitude for steering (praise the lord, haha), we were allowed to move onto trot poles and a few cross-rails. Unfortunately, my brain kinda spilled out and I tried to over-ride everything which made the poles and jumps messy. Anthony reminded me to be bold - ride my horse boldly and commit to things. If I ride tentatively, the horse is going to apply itself tentatively.
|One of our first attempts - she completely|
demolished this jump, haha.
Some things to note from this lesson:
- Leave her alone - turn your toes inwards and take your spur out. When she complies with your request, leave her alone.
- All you need to do is steer an be along for the ride once you get what you are looking for.
- THAT is your canter.
- Ride boldly; don't be tentative going to the jumps because she will become tentative.
- Be more committed; go into a half-seat and bring yourself forward when you get to the jumps. Show your horse what you want her to do.
- She isn't quite sure what you want when she gets to the jumps. She is going to make mistakes - she is going to hit jumps, she is going to hesitate, she is going to land awkwardly. It's all OK. Let her make the mistake (also the theme of Day 1).
- Lower your hands.
- She is thinking and trying to figure out what you want. Don't repeat it until she gets it right once - repeat it until she gets it right a few times.
- The only way to get better at something is correct repetition. She can make mistakes, but you also need to repeat the exercise to instill the correctness. <- This particular point really resonated with me, especially when I think back to our canter woes. When she got the right lead, I'd stop and be done. Which, sometimes it's practical to do it that way, but you also need to push the boundaries and ask for it multiple times so it becomes a habit.
- Do you have a go button? Does the horse respond and hold themselves forward?
- Going forward doesn't mean trotting faster - it means bigger, bolder steps.
- Everything with horses comes down to discipline - the rider has to be disciplined in what they do with their horse.
- You don't do well sitting waiting your turn (to jump), get yourself warmed up and moving around just before the other rider is finished their course/exercise.
|Another attempt - getting better...|
And she was trusting my decisions more.
As we progressed through the jumping, Annie got better and better. At first, she fumbled over the jumps, then landed trotting.... then tripped... but eventually popped over and rolled into a canter quietly. I haven't jumped her much and usually when I have lots of eyes on me, I get super tentative about anything I ask of my horses, so it was good to have that direction and clarity from Anthony that I need to be bolder.
We finished by doing a small course of three jumps and ended it there. I was SUPER pleased with the ride - it felt a million times better and Annie was more compliant than she has ever been in the canter especially. The trot felt sticky, but looking at the photos that were taken, she just looks a titch behind the leg but nothing terrible. It'll get there!
After the lesson, I
quickly rode cajoled Annie over to where the farrier was. She was super snorty and flinched at a bunch of sounds, but I just kicked her forwards. It was terrifying wandering over there by herself don't you know. The farrier and I spoke for a few seconds and I wandered back to my trailer to untack and grab Spud before returning to where the farrier was set up.
Now, as most of my readers know, Annie has been a huge pain in the ass for the farrier in previous shoeings. She had been trimmed and hot shod a handful of times by this farrier and it went super well - she never moved a muscle. However, she seems to flip flop when she is good/bad and I can't seem to pinpoint what changes there were/are.
Her very first trim she tried to jump a round-bale to get away from him and kicked out several times, her second trim she was a super good girl, her first two hot shoes she was a super star and then her third hot shoe she wouldn't even let him touch her. To the point where we could only put on front shoes after we struggled with her. When she went for training, he shod her with Trainer K present and allegedly she was somewhat nervous/anxious in the beginning but became quiet the moment they tied her by another horse's stall. She was shod in the front without incident and they left her hinds since she didn't really need them done at the time.
On the weekend, I opted to just have the fronts done again to prevent a drawn out and frustrating session for the farrier. She was not great for him, but certainly not as bad as she had been (especially last year). I am just at the end of my rope with this behavior - this time she didn't shy away from him, she instead ripped her fronts away from him and would paw the air. She was smacked several times for the behavior and I did ask if he wanted me to lunge her - he said no. She did stand super quietly - albeit on HIGH alert when he did her hinds.
Like come on mare, you should be tired. We just did two heavy work-out days and you still want to fight?
I just don't get it. I practice her holding up her feet /rasping them /picking them out/ pretending to hammer them ALL THE TIME. This isn't fucking news to her. Do I not practice enough? Am I not setting her up for success? I figured after a long hard clinic she would be much more amicable to have them done...
I apologized profusely to the farrier, because I know it isn't fun (or safe) for them to deal with horses like that and part of me is worried one day he'll just say "No thanks" when I ask him to come out and shoe. Although, he did assure me she certainly isn't the worst one he shoes. But still the whole situation left a sour taste in my mouth and the bad vibes from Saturday returned a bit.
I tried to keep positive tho, telling myself that she did do better than last time, especially in a very busy area. But still, I was frustrated. And mad. And embarrassed.
After Spud was finished (who was super good), I loaded them in the trailer and spoke with the farrier a few moments. Both horses were super quiet in the trailer, which I was happy with and took note that previously, Annie used to rock the entire trailer until I got in and started to drive.
Small things, I guess.
The ride home was uneventful and the horses dug right into their hay when I put them out. Since then I've been alternating between tylenol and hot baths because I am so very sore. My body isn't used to the intense Anthony lessons, hah. Annie is also getting a few days off and then we'll resume tack-walking the neighborhood again.
The weekend was interesting and part of me so desperately wanted to give up and just sell the damn horse. I'm trying hard to push past the disappointments and set-backs, but it can be hard when you actually do put in the work and time and it feels like it's for nothing. And the even more frustrating is when you know and FEEL that the horse can be a good fucking horse but they just don't apply themselves to show you that... or they only show you little glimmers of how good they can be a bit at a time... inconsistently. Gah. Baby horses are a fricken process - and whoever told me that year 2 undersaddle was going to be a pain in the ass can go fly a kite, haha.
|I'm not a total jerk to her, it'd be nice if she would|