Last year, I didn't do as much trail riding as I had wanted to, mostly because I was too focused on ring riding. This year, I have a different approach and a different mindset. I'm not opposed to ring riding, but a large part of me wants Annie to experience trail riding, hacking, and "new" questions. It can be easy to keep yourself shut in an arena, especially with a young horse, but it's important to me that Annie learns to navigate tricky terrain both in company and solo.
|An Annie-less walk in the rain with the puppers.|
Ella is afraid of Annie, but seems much more willing
with Spud, so we'll start small for now.
Also doubles as good "learning to be alone" time for
Annie now that Suzie is gone
We'll still do schooling, shows, and clinics - just more emphasis on "fun" vs work, haha. Last year I kind of tried to DO EVERYTHING and although we did lots of things, we didn't exactly do the things we needed to do (like lessons, hah).
Following our weekend long clinic at the TBC grounds, I went back and revisited some ground work with Annie as well as firmly instilling my new mantra "I don't care if you have feelings, you need to just deal." Which included taking only Spud for walks and leaving Annie in her misery (she actually didn't do much... mostly walked the fenceline and let out a hearty neigh when we finally came back, haha) It also included tying; partly because of Annie's rendition of two stepping at the trailer on Day 1 of the Anthony clinic and partly because I still was walking with a limp (not from the kick, from riding my pants off all weekend!) well into the week, haha. She ties quite well, but it's the wiggling and haunches whirling around and pawing that has GOT TO GO. So, I basically just tied her up and went to work cleaning up the paddocks (winter manure removal, yay).
|I can spy on her through the door to the lean-to at the|
back of the barn. She had... opinions this day.
Which was fine, because I had 2 more hours of poop to
shovel so... work your shit out girl.
It's getting better, but just baby steps. She tied quite well last year, so she may just need a tune up of things to get her patience reinstalled. It is Spring and all that. We also did lots of in-hand work and lunging in the one small open space of grass available in front of the barn. Some ground tying for good measure, hoof picking, pretend farrier work... She tried to jerk her hoof away once, got a stern "no" and went back to it like nothing had happened. She stood quietly and even tho I could tell she was annoyed with me hammering away at her shoes, she stood.
|Much better, Bannie.|
Note: she does not get left unattended when she's tied to the
tree. I keep her in my sights 24/7 in this instance.
Annie had been standing at the barn while I cleaned the tack room for about an hour and although she stood quite well, she stared hard at the driveway and I think she knew we were going out. After I tacked up, she did her big inhale of air (getting herself nice and physced up for the ride I assume) and tried to walk off in a big hurry the second I mounted. We did our circling exercise and I was pretty pleased to find it didn't take long for her to get her shit together. We wandered back to the barn to grab Spud, who had tangled a front leg in the hose (don't worry, the hose was literally only 8ft long) and as I maneuvered him and Annie back in the barn, his leg stepped over the hose before it fell on the ground. Thanks so much, hose.
Annie was just elated to know we were heading back out, so I had to kind of change up what I normally do when she gets fast and bracey. Instead of circling her, I just pulled her head off to the side until she halted and waited until she was calm before asking her to move off. We did this once in the driveway and once in the street.
She tore through the ground with big marching steps. I asked her to slow a few times because poor Spud had to keep trotting to catch up, haha. We went through puddles and over a few fallen branches and she was great. Previously when I had done small hacks down other short trails with ponying Spud, Annie was on high alert and very cautious. This time? She was happy to bumble her way through and take a look at everything around her.
|Barely any hesitation into the water andddd....|
look at where I steered us lol. Right into a branch.
We finished the ride just over an hour and I was pretty pleased with her. She has certainly grown up since the last time I trail rode her and I am looking forward to doing more of it, especially with friends.
I did find it hilarious tho, that she chose to spook at the following things:
- Clicking power line by the mailbox
- A traffic sign
- Piece of snow we have ridden by a handful of times
- Another horse (and then she was CERTAIN we needed to follow them on their ride).
|Her very uhm... active walk lol.|
Things she did not spook at?
- Painted lines on the road (you would never guess how many horses this wigs out!)
- A guy driving a ride on lawnmower down the middle of the road.
- Cars splashing through puddles.
- A branch smacking me in the face and scraping across my helmet.
- A bird taking flight after we accidentally flushed it out of a bush near the trail.
- The sound of gunshots from the gun range.
All in all, a good day out, especially since it had been a good long week since the last time I had taken her out!
I am trying very hard to focus on the positive things and not dwell on the imperfections - because a lot of time that's what it is with her. It's not that the entire lesson/ entire outing/ entire ride was bad - it's just portions of it. Training negativity from my brain is hard, and I'd like to give Annie the fair chance without leaving negative emotions to eat away at our relationship. She's been a fun horse so far, and if I want to improve these things, I need to keep going forward and doing what I'm doing without worrying I'll ruin the horse. Of course, I'm sure another month down the road I'll be worried I am ruining her, but that's the nature of the beast I guess.
|Another thing on our list to battle Annie's weight woes|
was a Panacur Powerpack. Spud.. wishes it were for him.
Slowly, one step at a time we'll get there. Progress with horses is such a funny thing because one person's trail ride around the block may mean your horse didn't gallop back to the barn while for another it's frustrating your horse wouldn't just lower his head instead of staring at everything. It's all different, and it all gets measured differently.