Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How About "No"

Trust me, I am just about as thrilled as you are.
- Annie
I rode Annie again on Saturday afternoon with N and AJ and while I was able to make it into the ring, I wasn't totally happy with the ride.

Maybe it's a combination of Annie being stronger/wiser, or a bit of body soreness from our previous school, or maybe a bit of both, but her response to a lot of my queries was, "And why should I?"

I've been careful to examine the issues that arise and test the waters to see what is the best solution for addressing things. It may take me a few attempts to get it right, but I like to assess things fully before developing a concrete thought.

So what exactly did she do on Saturday?

She was planning and plotting long before I tacked her up.
Well, for starters, she tried to trot off down the driveway again (I ended up turning her towards the barn, halting, asking her to go again, turning her back to the barn and halting, etc). Hacking to the ring she was quite spooky. In the ring she resorted to her old habit of sucking towards the other horse in the arena. AJ is her love-partner, so I understood when she was more attached to him vs Colby from the other day. She also took great offence to my left leg (like she did earlier in the year) and any kind of leg steering was pretty messy and inaccurate. Annnd then the canter fell apart like it had been the last few weeks - she gets tight and keeps trying to pop up into the canter and on this particular day, she cantered sideways with her head in the air and laid down a pretty good buck when I asked her to continue to trot.

I am pleased with myself that I rode through it all, remained calm and breathed through the antics. We alternated between walk-trot transitions before revisiting the canter - my initial thought is that it is harder for her to trot properly (ie. engaged, bending, etc) than it is to just run into the canter multiple times and when I shut her down, it makes her angry.

My second thought was pain - which is very viable concern. We took quite a few weeks off of schooling and now are returning to it - she may be lacking some muscles and sore in a few spots from the previous day. I palpated her back and while she was a bit sore in a few areas, nothing seemed to "jump" out as a huge issue.

Oh look, a conformation photo where
she isn't looking at me and her tail isn't swishing.
#progresssomewhere
I'm a pretty calculating person - I don't dismiss any theory and I certainly don't believe any answer is 100% right either. The feeling I get in the saddle is a mixture of confusion, frustration, and the middle finger. There is a healthy dose of, "I thought we just DID this?", "MORE TROT? I AM TROTTING MORE WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?" and "How about no, you little monkey on my back." Which, is fine. She's a young horse still trying to figure out all the buttons, and I'm an ammy rider who doesn't' always give her the best possible cue or release. We are nothing but a ever-changing tapestry of development!

Anyways, while the ride was a bit of a disaster, I managed to salvage a good deal of it. The walk/trot transitions really helped her settle and I felt like I was able to eek out some good work from her, despite the newfound "No" attitude. I verbally praised her and patted her several times, reassuring her that there was nothing to be worked up about or to take so personally.

We cantered around, attempted some leg yielding (which she did not appreciate kthanks), and even jumped the little makeshift tire-jump in the arena before calling it quits.

Upon leaving the arena, she hacked around on a buckle rein for the ride home and even did a stretchy trot along the dirt path which parallels the road. With her ability to "get over it" and get back to work, I strongly think this is more of a temperament thing. She's a young, empowered mare and she knows what is right.  ;)

Still, ending the ride with my feet kicked out of the stirrups
still feels like a win?
I contacted Trainer K (and a few friends), almost immediately after my ride and almost all of them said, "Yea... that whole work ethic change is pretty common with green horses." I guess the theory behind it is that when you first start a horse, they don't really understand what life is about. Some start out spooky and as they mature, they get more confident. Others (like Annie) start out pretty dopey and goofy ("You want to canter? How about I troooooooot so fast for you my favorite person?!). And once that dopey, goofy horse starts to understand more and become more self-aware and self-assured, they start to question things. "Pretty sure we are supposed to canter NOW". They start feel as though they are able to think for the rider in some situations. Which, can be helpful and I really appreciate it, but I could do without the sass?

I got some extra tips from Trainer K and when she gets back up to the area later this month we *may* take some lessons provided the snow doesn't fly, but if not, we will address it early next year. I'm not in a huge rush to "fix" the issue. She might just need some time off in the pasture or plodding along on a loose rein to just unhinge and relax.

She obliged to walking in the scary mud puddles.
Out of pure curiosity, has anyone else gone through something similar? 

I do realize that I focus highly on the negative aspect of things, which is just something I do and it reflects a lot in my blogging. It's not like I am blaming the horse or trying to make it sound like we are in crisis mode - some of our rides just suck right now and it's all part of it. I'm sure she is getting worn out and tired from being ridden all year and going to all these new places and is ready for a nice long Winter break.

We have a few more weeks left of Fall before Winter sets in, and I'd really like to get past this last uphill battle before packing in the season. It can be frustrating when situations like that arise and although there are good portions in the ride, the bad parts really stand out like a sore thumb.

21 comments:

  1. I get stuck in the bad moments too so I get it. But it is how baby horses go. I try to not let it keep me down for long.

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  2. I think we all get stuck in the bad moments. And yes, I feel like I'm going through this now, with Emi. Four has been a lot harder for me than three was....she's got more opinions and the work is harder. I'm hoping we see some light at the end of the tunnel! :)

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    1. I find my muse for writing really stops when we have "not so good" rides, but it's important to write about them so we can look back at how far we've come!!

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    2. True story! You'll notice I haven't been blogging much...between Roz and the struggle bus I don't have much to say.

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  3. Oh yeah, been there done that, own several shirts. Once young green horses actually get a little muscle, get a little strength and get an understanding of life they start questioning you, the rider, more. Like the terrible twos in children. I feel like with the green started horses I've dealt with its been a year after they are undersaddle/in regular work, so for Ramone it was age 5 (Got him at age 4) and with Dante I figured it would be age 4 but he's been giving me some sass lately so it might come early/might be the weather.

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    1. I'm really digging the responses in this thread - I'm not alone!! :D

      I've also heard the "magic" time is usually a year after they are undersaddle. Some may be early bloomers tho I guess.

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  4. Mine never really said "No" just got ALL THE FEELS with her big girl pants - but eventually they work it through :)

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  5. Definitely normal! Bridget actually came with that 'tude and has yet to give it up, so I'm going to say she is maybe not going to grow out of it and is therefore the only exception to the rule I've owned :)

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    1. Oh Bridget. :P

      She is the cute exception to the rule tho!

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  6. I am going through this stage with Shiraz right now (or pretty much off and on all this year). She has discovered being a riding horse is WORK and I am getting middle fingers in spades. My approach is kind but firm, and a little sense of humour doesn't hurt. When she doesn't want to work anymore she goes full llama on me and it is hard not to laugh. Ugh, baby horses. :)

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one getting the middle finger!! I try to just laugh at her and roll my eyes when she gets her panties in a twist. Hopefully she'll get back to being my mellow little cucumber again!

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  7. I'm with everyone else- it's a bit of 'you're not the boss of me' that all green/young horses go through. You did the right thing-you worked her through it. With Carmen staying in the same argument never helps, she just gets more wound up. Instead I just change the task and then go back. Sometimes though you have to shut things down (like the canter sideways).

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    1. I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking with it and eeking out some good moments. She is, by far, the youngest and greenest horse I've ever ridden so sometimes I get stuck in the "I'm not sure how I should deal with this... maybe I should stop before something bad happens." But I seem to have an ability to play around with things and try them out as we encounter problems.

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  8. Omg this post is my life. Both Mystic and Henry have gone through phases like this. Although I do think saddle fit issues contributed to both issues somewhat, there certainly is a level of testing boundaries and "oh yeah? make me" green horse moments (that I am still enjoying from time to time). Sounds like you worked through it well and have a good plan! Annie has more of a wither than I thought... you should buy my amerigo cc :P

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    1. WE NEED TSHIRTS.

      And thanks - I'm trying to stick with it!

      Amerigo was actually one of the saddle brands that was recommended to me, but it has to be a more "close contact" saddle. I want to replace my dressage saddle first since my current wintec cc is passable.

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    2. Have you seen the meme that's like "Riding green horses: The pros: An exciting challenge The cons: You die"... I LOLed so hard at that. Young horses man, they can be so cool but sometimes so ridiculous!

      If you can get your hands on an amerigo cc when you're shopping they are really lovely! I am sad that Henry hulked out of mine (it has regular flaps, and I need a long flap - but I see lots of short flaps out there).

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    3. Yes - I have seen the meme you are taking about!! LOL. I had actually sent it to a friend before I got Annie as a "haha". Now it isn't so funny :P

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