Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Progression of Things

Earlier this week, I re-added trailer loading into our regime. We hadn't needed to trailer anywhere recently and since I was feeling more confident with her loading abilities, I didn't really practice much the last month or so.

But, since we had big plans for later in the weekend and this weekend, I wanted to ensure that after a lengthy hiatus from the Death Box, Annie would still be receptive to getting in.

Remember when the whole loading thing seemed like
it would never happen?
Seems like a life-time ago.
Our first load session was on Monday, which I had previously blogged about, and it went just fine. Almost so well that you would never know she had a violent tantrum in it just a mere few months ago. On Tuesday, I received a phone call from a former employer and was stuck on the phone for a lot longer than I had anticipated. The horses were quiet in the trailer and waited until I had finished my phone call (I had debated unloading them, but had pretty spotty service so I didn't really want to move). Regardless, it was good practice for Annie to sit quiet in the trailer.

She unloaded like a champ and I tied her to the trailer along with Spud. I have been missing driving him, but during a drive before we went on vacation, the tire showed obvious signs of significant wear and it was no longer safe to use. The actual tire is pretty much shredded - after two years of carting over rocky ground, it comes as no surprise.

Unfortunately, we have no stores in town that carry things like bike tires, so I have to wait to pick a pair of them up this weekend as I had forgotten to buy some when we were on the island visiting my parents.

Back to Annie - I mounted up in the arena and let her wander around for a few laps before putting her to work. After the last two rides having a bit more theatrics (a randomly placed buck), I figured the arena would be a safe space vs in the open meadow we had schooled in the previous day.

"I'd rather be eating than carrying your fat ass around, Lady."
- Annie, most likely.
I needn't worry tho, as there were no shenanigans to be had.

We worked on quite a few different things and I applied a lot of the suggestions readers had left on my previous post (thank you!). None of the suggestions really seemed to strike an immediate "aha" moment in Annie with the whole cantering business, but we applied them and made use of them throughout our school. The one thing I noticed we should be practicing more are riding squares and applying more outside leg on her bad side - I have already made previous note about how she is difficult to counter bend in that direction as well.

She worked quite well and I had some of the best walk/trot work I have ever had out of her. She is still very stiff to counterbend left, but we worked on that as well. These things will come in due time - and thankfully we have lots of that.

I didn't want to work her too much in the ring, as we had had two days in a row already of pretty "intense" schooling. I like to give my horses mental breaks as well as get them outside of the arena and just do different things every once and a while.

She is starting to fill out!
We did manage to get the correct lead on our problem side, weirdly enough, I had dropped my reins and rode her on a bit of a square and she picked it up. She kind of hops into it, which I assume is just a strength thing since she doesn't do it on the other side. Pony got lots of praise and hugs for a job well done and then I did something stupid - I tried to replicate it again.

Annnnd. We didn't get it.

For those curious, it was an approximate
6k ride in 1:09min.
Instead, I had a horse that bounced into a canter each time my outside leg came on and she was just like, "CANTER IS THE ANSWER FOR ALL THE THINGS". I paid the bouncing into canters no mind and focused on something else - riding "snowman circles" (thanks, Emma!) in trot and walk to get her to forget about cantering.

She forgot pretty quickly, and we ended on just trotting around with a bit of stretchy trot thrown in for good measure.

And then I asked a "new" question, wherein I opened the riding gate from her back and untied Spud from the trailer and we went for a little hack around the grounds. She was good and seemed happy to be back out "on the trail". She balked at the large hill (we normally ride it coming from the other direction and usually go UP the big hill), but I made short work of convincing her and she went willingly.

How to Confuse a Greenie?
Ride the usual loop backwards.
She stood quiet to be untacked and I let her graze in the long grass before heading home where she unloaded really well.

I took a moment to reflect on things during our little trail ride, and the progress she has achieved in such a short time is astounding. She is still quite weak all over, and I am noticing she is a bit body sore (Oh my god, so am I, Mare. So am I.) from doing all kinds of "new" things and working her body in ways she never has before. It's the natural progression of things and although I feel like I still handle her with kid gloves, she rises to the occasion for me each and every time.

So yes, we are on the Struggle Bus, but who isn't?


  1. Annie is so freaking gorgeous! It sounds like despite the struggles, you're doing a really great job of addressing things as they come up. (:

    1. Aw, thank you so much :)
      it has been a learning curve for sure.

  2. what a great session! You should be proud of all the work you've done!

    1. Thanks Teresa!! It is coming together. Slowly but surely :)

  3. Your hard work is really paying off! She looks great, and sounds like the canter is coming along.

    1. I hope so!! We've been plugging away at things :)

  4. Glad the trailer training is going so well!

    1. I think I can safely say she is a confirmed trailer loader and unloader now :)

  5. Ha I know that feel.... Once Charlie does a thing correctly once he is pretty sure that is that and why would I ask AGAIN?!? Oh green horses. So much to learn all the time! She looks great tho!

    1. I was just going to say, mine too!! When I reward him heavily for one correct answer, he's like THIS MUST BE THE ANSWER TO EVERY QUESTION!! Then I have to slow down, go back, and address the correct answers to the other questions.

      I'm glad Annie is making such good progress!

    2. Thanks ladies :)

      And ugh, it's kind of like training a dog sometimes. You teach it to shake a paw and then it thinks it's the answer to everyyyything. Except... yanno.. they are giant dogs.

      And Nicole, I've recently had to go back and break things down again for Annie.