I had mentioned in my previous post - "It's Like Dating Again"
- owning a new horse is
equivalent to being on a roller-coaster. You hit some highs and you hit some lows until you level out into a steady stream of understanding and begin to truly work together as a team.
|The mares rule the roost here, and Spud is slowly|
deciding he doesn't "totally" hate Annie.
I will be the first to say that harvesting a relationship with an animal, especially one as large and undomesticated as a horse (compared to say, a dog), takes a great deal of effort and a great deal of understanding. Trust does not and will not happen overnight, despite what the Parelli videos show you. Dominance is not trust.
Things for the most part with Annie have been trudging along slowly since our excursion to Barn C a few weekends ago. Between a brief stint wherein my work hours fluctuated to where I was getting off just at sunset, and the weather nose-diving into -20 again, I haven't had much time to really work or even spend much quality time with any of my horses.
In some ways,
feel like winter is always a catch 22 – the sun will come out and you
feel guilty for not being outside or not doing anything with your horse.
But then you step outside and it’s fucking -20 degrees and all of your
fingers go numb just filling the water trough. Or you get blessed with a
real nice day and are confined to walking around the street because
there is nowhere safe to lunge and the outdoor arena is still buried
under a foot of ice.
|This is what the outdoor arena looked like |
at the end of February last year. #crying
So it shouldn’t be
surprising that after 2 weeks off left to do absolutely nothing, Annie
decided to have serious opinions about leaving Suzie and Spud to go on
a hack solo-style. In retrospect (because hindsight is always 20/20) it would have
been a better option to lunge her before attempting to hack out alone
on the road, but I was feeling particularly ornery myself and other than
a small oblong 15m corner of the paddock, I had nowhere to really lunge
So I hopped on.
And thus ensued our first real “fight”.
was wiggly when I attempted to mount, so I had her trot tight circles
around me until she decided she wanted to stand still while I climbed on
up. Once I got up there, she immediately went to walk out, so I halted
her to get organized and collect my off-side stirrup. I was carrying a
whip with me, as per recommendations from a few friends, and when I felt
ready to go, I squeezed and instantly felt Annie suck back.
refused to budge, so I gave a little kick and she bowed her head down
but still refused to move. In an attempt to “unlock” her, I went to turn
her to the left and then to the right. But she still would not move.
And thus, out came Mr. Whippy. She received two-three sharp smacks to
her bottom and because I don’t think she has ever had a whip used on
her, she backed up fast and kind of pivoted on her hind legs and did a
complete spin to face back towards the barn. After that, I gave her a
kick and she went forward and we carried on.
|She is completely in love with Suzanne.|
The rest of the
ride was a little frustrating in the sense that every time the wind
blew, Annie would break into a trot. She was quite forward and I could
feel she was not really “with” me during the ride. We met up with a
friend and her horse, which only seemed to cause each horse to feed off
of eachother’s nervous energy.
About 2/3 into the ride, both
horses settled into a buckle-rein walk, but I could still feel the
tension in Annie’s back. We finished the ride and Annie had a slight
melt-down when AJ turned
around to go home, but all things considered it was pretty minor (calling out, trying to turn around, walking fast).
got off when I wanted to - and under my own terms, which is a success
and I came to the realization that I need to pre-plan things a bit
better. Not because I condone silly behaviour, but because Annie is
still young and learning and I need to set her up better for success.
And if that means a quick lunge the day before or a hand-walk the day
before, I should be investing my time that way. I’ve been so used to
just hopping on Suzie and going (who, by the way, has been much worse
behaved on a Spring-hack than Annie!).
|Friend hacks are the best.|
In some ways, I kind of think "well duh, there were a lot of factors that attributed to her behavior" or "she didn't even really do anything bad" and in other respects my anxiety started to nag me "you ruined her already", "she's gonna start rearing now, way to go", "she hates you", "why did you buy a young horse" and on the list goes.
And this is where talking to a few good friends really helps. Because in Annie's defense, I went through this exact set of feelings when I purchased Suzie and Spud. Things would start out great, and then be not so great, leaving me to wonder if I really was the right rider/ owner for them.
Three really good horsey-friends were the first to hear about the mishap and offered their support. One friend gleaned, "Well, you ended on a buckle rein, so what's there to worry about?" Another offered, "The colder temps bring out the sillies sometimes, but it's nice she didn't get too silly on you aside from what you described." And the last stated the obvious, "She's only had 30 days on her and she's four. Plus, her paddock is a sheet of ice and she hasn't been able to really do much other than eat and poop."
|If anything tho, she is ridiculously |
None of my friends (nor myself) condone the behavior at all, but it is important to assess the facts and figure out why it was there. It could have been any number of reasons, but the fact remains that I didn't really give her the best shot at being the best she could be. Although, in some circumstances, you just can't prepare for certain things.
The self-doubt thing will go away, especially when I am able to put another ride on her and it is positive. It is funny because, had it been a mere 5 years ago, I would've just shrugged it off and continued on my merry-way. Becoming older and more aware of the realities of what could happen can leave any amateur blind-sided with the case of "What ifs" which don't do anyone any good.
It all just seems so stupid to me, especially because Suzie has been 10x worse on hacks around the neighborhood. I get the feeling it's not necessarily the behavior, but the fact that I still don't know Annie. I don't know what will happen if I push her too hard. I don't know what she will do if I do X, Y, or Z. Whereas with Suzie I know all of this stuff - of course, it was learned through trail and error over the last 3 years of riding her.
|Anyone else remember two years ago when Suzie|
and I went out for a 30min hack and she
jigged and sidepassed the entire ride?!
In an attempt to get the good juju juices flowing, I booked a lesson with resident trainer K at Barn C for Sunday to help us out a bit and to get Annie's legs moving. She hadn't ever been hacked out or trail ridden before I got her, so this is a pretty big lifestyle change for the moment (at least until the arena melts and we can actually school).