Thursday, November 2, 2017

What I Hoped She Would Be

They are making a children's park here - it used to be all trees.
Annie was very suspicious.
Last Sunday, considering we had a half day of work, I opted to head out riding with N and AJ for the afternoon. Admittedly, I had been avoiding riding Annie or doing anything above normal chores, but am slowly starting to get myself back into the swing of things. Unfortunately tho, once daylight savings time hits, any kind of riding will be off the table until I have my turn-around week from work.

(Over the last few months, work has been ramping up (as do all construction jobs), so I typically work 11-12 hour days for 20 days (sometimes we get a day off or half day somewhere in there) and then get a 9 day "turn around").

Despite work making pony-time difficult, I don't necessarily mind it being that we are headed into the winter season. Once the snow flies, the horse trailer will be land-locked until next year and the fuzzy ponies will get to enjoy the freedom of being ferals - much like every other year.

Back to last Sunday - I tacked Annie up and opted to lunge her first prior to getting on. I have been lunging her 2-3 times a week, as work/ daylight/ footing allow and wanted to reinstill some manners we had been working on on the line. I had found that I was letting her get away with too much while lunging (cutting into my space, running into canter whenever she wanted, fast trotting, etc) so I started to take back some of the freedom I had unknowingly given her. We had a short CTJ meeting two weeks ago about sass at the canter and since then, I've had a horse who quietly and willingly rolls into a canter (on the right leads) with no head tossing/ grouchy faces.

Different day.
Also yea I'm that person that uses Dressage pads
with my jump saddle. lol
It's interesting how things all kind of fall into one basket - the canter problem we've been having undersaddle kind of spills over into other areas (lunging). The fact she began attempting it on the lunge was interesting to me, as she had never offered that level of response before and once I made it absolutely clear it was not tolerated on the line, she was happy to revert back to quietly bounding into the canter when I asked.

I think that this is why part of me was pleased the vet assessed Annie as "part pain, part attitude". Although, the whole "attitude" thing can be a bit subjective and difficult to really measure in terms of medical testing and such. Despite the fact I don't really have any kind of chart or numbers to go off of, I have memory and understanding of Annie's typical response to stimulus and positive/negative reinforcement. With all the information of what I expect or anticipate Annie's response to be, based off of previous attempts, I can deduce whether or not something is normal.

So when I started to see a horse who was beginning to transfer identical behavior from undersaddle to the lunge - wherein she had never offered that response before, including when I would lunge her prior to riding or on a day I was unable to ride, I was able to correctly and effectively announce it as "misbehavior".

Sorry, but it's true.

Which, totally makes sense. It's much like training a dog to lay down - at some point your dog will eventually attempt to "bow" or lay halfway down when given the command, just to see if the stimulus (whether it be a treat or pat on the head) will still come his way.

Anyways, I'm going off on a tangent about animal behavior, but it is truly interesting and as I delve more into my time as a first time baby horse owner, I discover more and more I hadn't really assessed or thought of before. And while most amateur owners can come to conclusions much quicker, I feel like owning Annie has made me more calculating and observant than in the past with a much broker horse.

For the last time - back to Sunday's ride. After a quick 10min lunge, I led Annie to the mounting block. She was a bit wiggly and kept moving her hips away - I reminded her to stand and hopped on without issue. She walked off quietly too, which was nice considering she had started a habit of BRISKLY WALKING OFF when I cued her to go. I'm not sure if readers remember, but I had started to turn her back to the barn/do circles, etc if she tried to pop into the trot or threw her head up at me asking her to slow down. It seems to be paying off because she was quiet as could be on Sunday.

As we neared the top of the street, I could hear Spud neighing from the paddock. I ended up turning Annie around and made the slow venture back to the barn (because Annie is weird and walks fast AWAY from home and walks slow TOWARDS home). Barn-sour she is not.

Really need to change it back to "riding" not running lol.
And our canter is typically a 19km/h - we had a very sad and slow
canter on Sunday lol.
I had initially not wanted to pony Spud since I hadn't done much riding lately, but figured I'd give it a shot. Annie was great when I remounted and we walked off without incident.

As a random sidenote - Annie feels SO wide now. My legs typically weren't always in contact with her barrel, especially my calves. Now? I can feel every shapely curve in her body. The gullet in my saddle is going to have to be expanded for sure and it'll be interesting to see what she feels like at the end of the 60 days.

We met up with A and AJ later on and enjoyed a nice hour hack around the roads. I also ended up trotting and cantering Annie down the long dirt road (much to Spud's dismay) and had zero issues with head tossing or resistance. She was super tired by this point tho, and only cantered about 10 strides before she was like, "I tired, can we pls slow down to the walk k thanks". Part of it could be she was feeling better, part of it could be that we weren't in the arena, and part of it could be that I had zero contact on the reins.

Regardless, I felt so very happy and at home in the saddle. The quiet and leisurely ride reminded me just how much I adore Annie and her qualities. The calmness I felt from just being on her back hit me like a wave and I felt extreme gratitude in being in this whole crazy horse journey. My heart is still aching for my red mare - the barn is still not the same place it was and I cannot convey enough how much both Annie and Spud have been such amazing healers in this entire thing.

And my ride on Sunday was testament to that. We may have some big hurdles to address, but it is important to remember her life as an adult amateur mount only started a mere 10 months ago. Her life and training is just in the beginning stages and I can already see so much of what I had hoped she would be.


  1. Oh man that last pic is gorgeous! I am part of the dressage pad with a jump saddle too (I only have dressage BOT pads but on cold days I prefer to use those haha...when I have a saddle that is). Sounds like things with Annie are on the right track :) She's a good egg.

  2. I'm glad that you and Annie are moving forward in such a positive way!

  3. It's great to see the progress and you are definitely bringing a good attitude to your journey with Annie

  4. That picture is so beautiful! It's good that you got clarity and can say with confidence that she's just being a snot. Now you have a plan.