Monday, July 31, 2017

Weeks Worth of Preparing

The week leading up to the horse show was a concise mixture of very subar riding and dealing with frustrating issues I had thought we were over. Helpful hint: greenies don't just "get over" things in the matter of a few rides, especially when there is a show coming up!



There were things to glean from the rides tho, and as always, any forward progression is still progression even if there are relapses to be had. If this mare is teaching me anything, it is about patience and persistence! 

Truthfully, the rides weren't that terrible, but it felt like we still had some left-over angst from Percentage Days and what I assume was her heat-cycle fizzling out. She wasn't broncy or malicious, just very, very pissy. Especially about any kind of outside aid. Because any outside leg aid MUST mean canter. Right?

Most of the ride went something like this:

Annie: "We canter NOW."
Me: *half halt* "No, we're just circling at the trot."
Annie: "...Now? Left leg means... CANTER CANTER CANTER RIGHT. WE CANTER NOW."
Me: "Srsly? No. We are still just turning. Just turn."
Annie: "Y u no let me canter?" **Llama impression*
Me: *tries to keep riding"
Annie: "I'm just gonna hop kinda onto my front leg just to practice canter takeoffs... JK I CANTER NOW. Hahaha. I also try to buck now."
Me: *uses whip*
Annie: "Y u hit me. Fine. I trot now but I don't do the bend thing."

So. That was fun.

Learning to stretch (note: the neck stretcher was VERY loose)
and getting her tail conditioned at the same time.
Tuesday I just didn't feel like riding so I ended up lunging her in the morning with the neck stretcher and when I went back for evening graining I toodled bareback in a halter. The lunging went OK - she cross-fired a bit on the lunge and had a hell of a time picking up her lead again. It seems like when she gets it wrong, she just gets all fired up and frustrated. I just let her figure it out and kept the session easy.

Prior to toodling, we snacked.
On Wednesday, I didn't have much time so just rode in the back paddock. I haven't ever ridden her back there before and there isn't much room to do more than straight lines and a little 20m circle at best. She was really interested about where Suzie was and it took a lot of effort to keep her concentration.

"I could give two shits." -Annie, most likely.
I kept the ride mostly walk/trot again, trying to keep her from anticipating the canter or when I would ask for the canter. I feel like it's partly my fault since I have a usual routine I do in the ring and she is starting to learn it (usually it's warm up walk, trot, then back to walk, and after walk we canter). Had some decent work, but a lot of that hoppy-ness again where she was anticipating the canter and wanting to go for it. We cantered a bit, but not much, and called it day. I was thankful Annie didn't react when Spud decided to bolt and take off galloping in the other pen - thanks dude.

The next morning I debated long and hard about riding her again, but figured I might as well work on some relaxation and trying to get our shit together. Color me surprised when Mare was pleasant and happy to go to work. We did quite a bit of cantering, especially trot-canter transitions, and she was really really good. There was one moment she anticipated and was pissy, but overall she behaved and was really focused. The trot work felt really good, and I was actually able to sit the trot without her thinking "OMG SITTING MEANS YOU ARE GONNA CANTER SOON RIGHT."

The most unflattering photo ever.
At the end of the ride in the ring, I brought her to the gate and tried to open it from her back. I've done this quite a few times, but that day she just did NOT move when I asked her. Any leg pressure and she would back up. So, I walked back to the middle of the ring and put my leg on and backed it up with a tap of the whip. Once we had that whole argument settled, I marched back to the gate and she was perfect as pie. She was rewarded with a little trail ride around the fairgrounds before I untacked her and loaded her back up to go home. 

While a lot of what I outlined over the week leading up to the show was more or less "this sucked and that sucked", we did have a lot of good moments and the disagreements are just part of that growing up phase. It's frustrating, but looking back at where we started, I have to remember this horse didn't even know how to canter before I got her and cantering more than three strides? Yah, didn't happen.

Of course, with a show happening the very next day, I was worried to see what kind of issues would play out in the ring and if I had over-faced Annie in what I had signed up for. 

18 comments:

  1. I just think it's so cool that you've got a baby you can take out right now and just do all this stuff with, that's so huge. Also, the whole canter conversation reminds me very much of a certain pony mare I ride :) I hope the show went well and you had lots of fun!

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    1. I don't think I appreciate what I have a lot of the time. At the show, a lot of people were telling me, "Dude, chill, she's FOUR." And they are right - the shit rides will happen and thats just part of it.

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  2. Annie seems like a very good mare for only being four. She's doing a lot in a short amount of time. Give her time and she'll be just what you want her to be.

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    1. I think so too! It's hard not to have expectations tho!

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  3. Annie's canter conversation sounds a lot like Nilla's for a while. Baby horses are tough. Nilla's not even a baby, but she wasn't really broke when I got her so we went through a lot of the baby stuff. It gets better.

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    1. It will get better - just sometimes feels futile when you are in the moment ;)

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  4. Aww, Annie! I think she's pretty much a rockstar for doing so well at her age!

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  5. It's so hard with the greenies. Sometimes they're so good we forget they're babies -- and then they remind us. But you've come so far with her ☺ keep up the good work!

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    1. Right? haha. We as humans expect so much sometimes!

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  6. Hope the show went well! You might find yourself less frustrated by some of these rides if you shift your view away from thinking of training issues as "disagreements." Most horses don't "disagree" - esp not green broke 4yos. The vast majority of the time, if a horse is not doing what you want it to do, it either does not understand, doesn't feel like it CAN, or is in fact actually blocked by the rider. And sometimes it's pain - tho that's usually not culprit #1 with extremely green horses. The canter was such a big deal for so long that now she's offering that behavior as the answer to any question bc she might legit think that to canter means to be a good girl. It's nice that she's volunteering - even if she's offering the wrong answer to a new question. Thinking of it this way may help you be more productive in her training vs thinking she's "disagreeing" with your new question.

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    1. I never really thought of it that way - i don't necessarily take the "arguments" personally, altho sometimes it can be frustrating. I appreciate you breaking it down into that line of thinking - hopefully I can apply it when I school her again :)

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  7. I would echo Emma's comments. She's come a long way and still has a way to go. You are doing a good job with her.

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    1. Thanks! It can feel futile when you are in the moment, but sometimes it is best just to take a step back and focus on something else.

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  8. Hahaha, you are doing so well with her. My 4-yro just learned to trot the whole arena and I was so excited...maybe I should be pushing on a bit more :P You have such a gem to be doing so much already!

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    1. Thank you <3

      I appreciate all the wonderful comments from you guys.

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  9. oh those canter transitions...I know it well.

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