Friday, May 5, 2017

Another Week-Long Post

Things on the Annie front have been busy – the radio silence is simply because I find it a bit difficult to write a comprehensive post on our rides when there isn’t anything particularily interesting to say. We are moving forwards tho (figuratively and literally speaking), which is just about as much as you can expect with a greenie.
So let’s do another weekly recap of what we’ve been up to   

Thursday (April 27th)
Note my mounting block.
I popped out after work and put a little hack ride on her. She has been still avoiding letting me mount up the first try – mostly she will back up every time I get the bucket lined up to mount and then I just follow her with the bucket until she stands. I have attempted previously to get mad at her about it and it doesn’t seem like it helps or is productive, so instead of getting angry or reacting negatively, I just tell her to stand and quietly follow her. I do try to step up onto the bucket, step down, step up, step down, jiggle the stirrup leathers, etc. I don’t necessarily want it to become a game of, ‘’SHES STANDING QUICK JUMP ON.’’

The hack itself was good – she was very forward tho and felt very anxious beneath me. I didn’t play into anything and tried my hardest to really melt my body into the saddle (thank you for the visuals Journey with a Dancing Horse), and incorporated some long and low, leg yielding, slow walk and fast walk with just my seat and for the first bit she was very upset I was asking her to do something when HOLY COW CANT YOU SEE IM STRESSED ABOUT BEING IN THE WORLD. So we kept at it and had some minor success with what she offered – the leg yielding to the right was a disaster but we got a few steps which was productive. She certainly offers more in the arena, but I was OK with what I got. On the way home, we really played with slow/fast walking off of my seat while she was on a buckle rein and I was actually really happy with her.

Friday, Saturday (April 28th - 29th)

Adulting things, work and not much else.

Sunday (April 30th)

^From earlier in the week.

I had a full day of running out to the next town to get a new round bale (we have some stored at a farm 50min away), meeting up with a friend to trial her tall boots, grabbing the trial saddle, and going to a horse show committee meeting. I ended up not being able to grab more grain tho, as I got caught up talking to my friends and the feed store closed by the time I was done gabbing.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well in the evening when I went to drop the bale off at the barn. The horses (Suzie was the first to be like ‘’Peace out, bitches’’) trotted by me to get to the bale when I opened the barn doors. When I had went to catch them, Suzie took off cantering (kind of? It was more like a western pleasure lope complete with the head bobbing because, yanno, she’s lame) and Annie followed suit… just not in the same direction. Instead, Annie went onto the road and tore in the direction of the neighbors yard. Suzie flew after her, with me not far behind with a halter in my hands.

Long story short, mostly because the whole story still makes my stomach turn and it makes me so fucking embarrassed … Both mares ended up wandering into the neighbor’s yard where they were trying to have a pleasant birthday party for their kid. I was able to catch Suzie and one of the ladies from the party, who I had transported a llama for, came over and held her while I tried to grab Annie. She was trotting around, snorting and heaving. It didn’t help the kids were running around and dogs were barking and chasing. The kids ended up going onto the deck with the adults, thank god, and

I wasn't bad... I promise.

Annie actually ended up wandering into an adjoining yard that had a horse in it. I think she saw him from the one little path and was intruiged, so she wandered that way. Two little strands of hot wire were up, but I couldn’t even see them from where I was standing and Annie literally just walked through them – I later was told the little electric fencing insulator things were actually hammered into a rotten tree, so they literally just popped out when she pushed against it. The horse inside of the fence, who has been with a bunch of other horses before (but isn’t now), spooked hard and started to gallop away before attempting to climbed over the one fence on the far side of the little paddock. The fence, which was chainlink, was pretty haggered to begin with and thankfully gave way beneath him and he was contained in a little dog run thing. I was horrified and grabbed Annie as they sniffed noses over the damaged fence and checked him quickly to make sure he was OK before yelling for the owner. When no one responded, I decided the best thing to do was to leave the horse in the dog pen because I didn’t want to go any closer and have him react like that again and I wasn’t sure HOW to get him out of the dog run. So, I turned on my heel and left to take my two girls home and go back to the neighbors to let them know what happened.

>The owner came out of the house and followed me back to the barn – I didn’t even hear her yelling for me I was so shaken and embarrassed. All the horses are fine – the scared horse escaped with one little scratch and I went over the next morning to help fix the fencing. Nothing but the small piece of chainlink was damaged (which I have paid for). It was such a weird, freak incident – the owner even stated it was such a weird reaction from the horse to scale the fence, especially since Annie wasn’t even running at him, she was merely walking.
And where was Spud in all this you ask? Funny enough, Spud stayed at the barn even though I left the doors wide open when I took off after the girls.
Best pony strikes again.
I did go to the neighbors house and apologize to everyone at the party, but none of them were concerned or even upset about it. They were glad I was able to contain both horses and no one was hurt, which is the best outcome anyone can hope for. I have also learned my lesson about unloading bales – the horses will be moved into the other paddock until after the bale is unloaded and in the feed box.

Monday (May 01st) 

We did some lunging work and concentrated on rythmn as well as her sticky right lead. I was still feeling crummy about the events that transpired the day before and my stomach was still doing knots and flips (anxiety is a wonderful thing) so I opted not to ride.

With the lunging, she still had some issues getting her right lead, which has solidified my decision for the chiro (who comes out this Sunday). I noted on the lunge line she will counter-bend herself to get the right lead and if I keep tension on the line to have her bent to the inside, she actually will stop, so that was an interesting tidbit and actually transferred into my ride the next day.

Tuesday (May 02nd) 

I tested out the trial saddle! It actually fits me really well and it fits Annie quite well too. We wandered over to the ring and I brought Spud with us, which seemed to be a good gameplan at first. Annie was pretty amped when I brought her out – not wanting to stand tied, spooking at the saddle pad, just acting really spooky in general. I got on and she refused to budge, and when I gave her a squeeze she tossed her head down on me but another squeeze and she went forwards. I have a few theories about why she acted this way, but I’m not 100% on either. The first is that she was still amped about the whole Prison Break that happened Sunday evening, or the horses are just feeling Spring-time Fresh. Does anyone else have horses that go through this? As the weather gets warmer they are more spooky/fresh?

The first ¼ of the ride was her usual fast walk, attempting to hop into trot once or twice, but nothing too malicious. I attempted to halt her so we could wait for Ty to catch up, and she protested the idea but didn’t really make a huge display about it. Mostly just tossing her head in the air and trying to walk off. Hashtag suchdrama. We walked to the fairgrounds without incident, save for a spook at one of the rocks she had seen 100 times now.

The ride in the arena was probably one of the best we’ve had to date, which makes me happy! We were able to get her sticky lead and she actually got a few steps of stretchy trot, which was awesome! We worked away at leg yielding, halting, backing, trotting serpentines and circles, cantering around the entire arena (I have always been nervous to canter her around the ENTIRE arena because it is so big). 


 I also have a few funny stories for you guys re :this ride – I wore my new Kerrits tights and they have these little grippies on them (in the shape of carrots no less). Well, the saddle is buffalo leather which I guess makes these grippies really happy to do their job. So… my upper thigh got stuck to the saddle during the posting trot, so I kind of went to lean forward to wiggle my leg free and Annie stopped dead like, ‘’What are you monkeying around up there for?’’ Oops. Good to know she has auto-brakes for an unstable rider. And there was also our Pilot Error 3.0 : I tried to ride her like a broke horse and figured, ‘’We are legit ABOUT to turn, I’ll ask her to turn now’’ vs ‘’Hmm the turn is coming in the next 15 strides, I should probably start to tell her to turn because yanno, we don’t steer very good’’. And boy did I pay for my mistake. She ended up turning like I told her, but we ended up pretty close to the fence and I actually ended up wretching my outside leg on one of the posts which was convieniently located right after the turn. The ankle is fine tho, and I learned my lesson about over-preparing Annie about turns cause… fitness and greeness and all that.
The judgemental peanut gallery.
The rest of the ride went well, I was pretty pleased with her – she is quite solid in the arena in terms of listening goes.

When I was finished, I had to dismount to open the gate, and then I played How Many Times Is Cathryn Going to Dismount and Remount.
I stepped up onto the bleachers outside of the ring to mount up, and Annie was hesitant about letting me. A few tries and she let me up, and we started to walk off. Except fucking Spud was busy eating grass and instead of following like a good pony, he planted his feet. I didn’t have enough time to pull Annie up and the leadrope fell out of my hands. So I dismounted. Grabbed Spud, and remounted.
Except then he pulled on my arm and the hoodie I had draped over my thighs fell to the ground. So I dismounted, grabbed the hoodie, and remounted.

Just before I dropped the hoodie. Again.
And then we were off! We made it just down the trail and I went to fiddle with my phone and the hoodie fell… Again. So I dismounted, and then remounted again.
We started off again… and I don’t even remember what happened. I think Spud’s lead dropped again because I just could not human. So I dismounted again. Walked back to the rock she spooked at earlier, tied the stupid hoodie around my waist and remounted. If you are counting, that’s FIVE fucking times I had to get on and off of my horse in the span of seven minutes. I did have to laugh tho, because clearly the Horse Gods were testing Annie’s ability to stand quietly – and stand she did.

Wednesday (03rd)

Due to Annie’s nappiness (balking?), I wanted to get on her again to reaffirm that the little attitude that popped up the day before wasn’t going to rear it’s head again. She was naughty about waiting for me to mount, so I just waited her out until she stood quiet.

The hack around the neighborhood was good, but she spooked quite a bit – at a wet spot on the pavement, a kid yelling, a basketball hoop… all things she has seen before. I am starting to think maybe because the wildlife (bears, coyotes) and such are starting to come out of the woodworks and the days are getting warmer, it is having an affect on her? I have had a few people tell me it is just ‘’Spring Fever’’ especially since she is spooking at shit she’s seen before. She doesn’t seem like she is spooking to be a cow or pretending to be afraid – she spooked at Roxy the other day while I was riding when Roxy sat down to scratch her neck. Thankfully, they are quite mild spooks and most are nothing more than a flinch and sometimes a full blown halt. Still, it makes me curious why she is more reactive now than she was before.
Anyone else deal with this? I’m not upset or annoyed by it, but moreso just curious.
After the failed loading session, we both needed a mental break.
We also did some trailering stuff - sadly she seemed to forget about all of our progress the week before and reverted back to two legs in the trailer and two on the ramp. It was disheartening, and to say that I was disappointed would be pretty spot on in terms of accuracy. There is a show this weekend and all sorts of fun events happening this month that I will probably be missing out on. And it really, really sucks. I am trying so hard to be patient with her, but every so often I get a little jab of ''you aren't good enough'' or ''you aren't the right person for her'' and it really does hurt.
I felt pretty sorry for myself that night, alternating between feeling like I could face this head on to I don't know what to do. It sounds ridiculously stupid, but my mind plays over and over again about situations where I try to load her and she just won't, or her freaking out in the trailer again and hurting herself bad. I know she isn't a bad horse, and I know her reaction was simply a result of feeling trapped. She doesn't understand trailers. Hell, she had only been hauled maybe twice before I shipped her up here.


  1. 1 - so awesome you guys had such a great ride! seems like you learned a lot about continuing her education, and she sounds like a honest lovely horse despite her greenness
    2 - omg the spring sillies are a VERY real thing. omg. the grass has more sugar, the air is full of fresh green smells, and all the blood is suddenly rushing through their ears. yea. ugh. it's annoying, but it'll settle again soon.
    3 - the mounting block stuff gives me flash backs to izzy. ugh. i feel your pain. your quiet, relaxed persistence sounds great tho. with izzy - i found that i needed that mindset, but needed to move *her* to the block when she danced away, vs moving the *block* to her. subtle distinction, but maybe meaningful?
    4 - omg nothing is scarier than loose horses, glad it ended up fine tho! and re: missing horse shows bc of the trailer - that sucks. but once you've got this trailer problem solved you'll hopefully have YEARS of fun outings ahead of you. cold comfort, but hopefully it helps.

    1. Thanks, Emma!

      Good point on the mounting block - I'll have to try that!

      And yes, I am glad even tho they got loose nothing serious happened!

  2. You are welcome for the visuals. I have a ton of them. Some of them involve me promising myself a glass of wine when I'm done.

    Annie is testing the boundaries- which young horses do. It takes time to build up a bond of trust. My best advice is that when she's looking around she's not tuned into you so make her do something. It doesn't matter what and it doesn't matter if it's good or not- it just matters that her attention is on you. I'm suspecting that the trailer is the same thing.

    Keep at it. Green horses are tough. If they weren't everyone would want one.....

    1. Hahaha!

      I'll incorporate more ''thinking'' into our hacks around the neighborhood. Altho I am interested in you expanding what you think about the trailer loading stuff? You think she is testing me with that as well?

    2. I hesitate to use the term leadership because I think that it can be easily misunderstood. But one thing that I learned with Carmen is that trust is key but it's not just trust that i won't hurt her but that I also will let her know what to do when things are scary. She doesn't have to figure it out because I have it. It's so much easier now but there were times (many many times) that when I asked her to do something instead of running away that she would fight and test me. I'm getting really long here and I believe that while she may feel negative about the trailer she's seeing if she really has to take another step on.

      Now I don't mean that you must 'make' her do it but that you have to be clear in your asks. When I first got Royce out to help me he was what many people would think of as harsh but he made it really black and white and she never ever was afraid of him or acted negatively towards him.

      For example, if I'm coming around a circle and Carmen starts gawking at something outside the ring and counter bends I ask her nicely but if she ignores me still I give her a quick boot to reinforce my aid and then go back to nice. But I also know that she knows what I'm asking.

      When I first started with Carmen she had me convinced that she couldn't go off the middle circle and I backed off and off and off. It's okay to amp the pressure on her but not go over the limit. It's not about what she 'wants' to do but what you can help her to do. There's a lot of little things that she's doing that speak to her seeing what decisions she can make. It's normal and part of developing for every species.

  3. What a scary experience with them taking off! Glad it ended well.

    1. They like to keep things interesting I suppose.... -_- I was NOT impressed, but glad nothing worse ended up happening.

  4. Sheesh -- escaping ponies are the worst. Glad you got them caught quickly and no one was hurt!

  5. Oh gosh, loose horses - been there many times! (our fencing was pretty sketchy when I was a kid). As for weird moods and spooking, I don't want label it a mare thing, but really there are so many moods that come with mares in spring time. Also I think you are right about the smell of predators coming out of hibernation and mix that with increased sugar in the diet from green grass and then you have some sillies to deal with. Personally, my girl Savvy can be a dead broke pony one day and a complete time bomb the next with little difference in the circumstances other than one little thing setting her off. For example, I had the trailer in a different spot one day and Savvy must have thought I was going to put her in it. That entire ride at home was a disaster and she was even threatening to rear (she does load fine but she gets herself pretty worked up about it). Also when she is in heat, she is very hard to saddle. I assume her sides are sore, as that can happen to mares in heat. Best thing to do is just roll with it and pay attention to what helps or does not help and keep on learning! Good luck with her. I think you are doing a great job!

    1. Typically Suzie and Spud stay close if and when they get out, but Annie doesn't really know the area that well still and I think was pretty amped about being FREEEE.

      Thanks for your additional comments re: spooking and mood change. I think a lot of things can be attributed to it, but I also was curious if I changed how I dealt with it, how she would react. For example, if I ride her more sternly and give her a little kick after she spooked to discipline her, will she continue the trend or stop? Interesting nonetheless.

    2. I have found that disciplining a spook rarely works and just amps them up more. Redirection has been very useful for me. For example leg yeild or shoulder in - anything complcated enough to help them return their focus. Your best defence on a spooky day would be staying calm and focused, staying on task after a spook like it never happened. Your horse will feed off of that (coming from the queen of anxiety/learning the hard way, haha!)