Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Anthony Lothian Clinic: Day 2; Roller Coasters Aren't Fun

From Day 1; tentative smiles because we didn't know the
amount of pain and hurt we'd be in for
I shouldn't have published my Day 1 post so fast - I forgot to add a few things. Not that they necessarily matter, but it's good to have the full picture.

So, a few additions:

During the time of the Anthony clinic, there was a despooking clinic going on with a NH trainer - lots of horses/trailers/people were at the grounds. It was a pretty busy atmosphere, as well as random loud noises would come from the indoor arena (loud bangs, yelling, music, etc).

Second point I forgot to add - when I noticed the boards had come loose, I pulled them off and stuck them in the stall beside Spud. I had briefly entertained the idea of moving my horses, but left them in the stalls instead and figured Annie would be pleased with herself for having an open space to see Spud anyways. I did go back and check Annie a second time that evening when I drove Show Buddy home from the birthday shenanigans. At that time no additional boards were loosened and Annie was eating her hay quietly. She did pace a bit when I walked up to her, but nothing overdramatic, more like "pls let me out of here." I had a hard time feeling bad for her tho, and the running joke was that I was going to leave her at the grounds forever. In fact, I made a lot of threats regarding Annie, haha.

** also note, I have TONS of media that isn't always relevant to the paragraph, so just... enjoy the pictures lol.

I loved the angle the photographer got of the trot poles.
The next morning, Show Buddy fed the horses for me (because she is the best) and I laid in bed, crippled from riding the day before. There were no other boards down and she reported that Annie dove into her hay hungrily. I laid in bed for longer than I should have and actually contemplated packing up and going home because holy shit, my body was SORE. I also didn't get much sleep in since we were up until the wee hours of the morning giggling and exchanging Bad Pony stories.

Regardless, I made it down to the grounds after doing some running around in town and pulled Annie and Spud out a few hours before the lesson. Both were very eager to leave their stalls; Annie in particular was literally shivering with anticipation as I opened her stall door. I made her wait before walking over to the trailer and tying them far apart again.

Annie was fidgety at the trailer, but not as much as she had been the day previous. She was constantly whirling her head around, staring at passerbyers and just not paying attention. The behavior is more annoying than it is dangerous, especially when she whirls her haunches around and snags a bite of hay with a possessed look of eagles on her face. Like, just fucking stand and eat your hay. Relax. Cock a leg and stay a while. On this particular day, I didn't have the hay net set up because Annie had ate all of the hay I brought her (which is good!) and I figured standing tied without hay was a reasonable thing to ask anyways.

Not very forward - mare felt exhausted this day, haha.
While she didn't fidget nearly as much as the day prior, I did end up going over and lunging her again in her halter, simply because I wasn't really sure what kind of mood she was in. And partly because I was still super frustrated with her and part of me was over-reacting a bit to her little shuffles/butt swinging. I could have easily left her tied and ignored her, but it was making me mental on the inside. When I sent her out to lunge, she did move out respectfully and when I asked for a canter, she squealed and peeled off.

Okay then.

Unfortunately for Annie, I had had enough of the shenanigans and silliness so I yanked the lead a few times to regain her focus (she was staring out at the other horses *head desk*) and MADE her pay attention to me and the speeds I was asking her to go. She received a few more jerks to the lunge line during the session but instead of cantering around staring at everything else but me, she started to settle her shit and gave me more focus.

There was focus (and turning!!) here tho!!
What a good bean!
I understand horses can be fresh, and I understand she is young/dumb, but after being kicked and having a stall remodeled, I wasn't in the mood. It's time to grow up a bit and stop being handled with kid gloves. Mistakes are OK, but mistakes shouldn't prevent me from correcting them.

She tied back at the trailer quietly and was great to tack up - no wiggling. After getting dressed and ready, I wandered over to the mounting block situated outside the arena. She did great standing quiet and walked off quietly when I asked.

Again, she felt tight and resistant in the bridle while we warmed up, but was compliant for the most part. I did wear spurs on this day because I was #dying. Once we finished warming up at the walk and trot - I did manage to get some steps of nice trot out of her where she felt reasonable in the bridle - and parked her a few feet away from riding buddy. She did try to casually move closer to SB and Riley, but I made her remain a few feet away.

Testing the GO button.
We got called in to our lesson nearly 40 minutes late, as another rider was having difficulties with her horse. I can understand and appreciate it, considering our lesson was late the previous day because of me. But it also is frustrating in a way, because I had booked a farrier appointment for Annie and Spud at the grounds for after my lesson. As we wandered into the ring, the farrier showed up. Part of me was questioning whether or not to excuse myself from the lesson or rebook with the farrier, but it ended up working out and the farrier kindly waited.

The lesson started out at the walk and morphed off of the previous day's lesson with instilling a slow/go button in the horses. Anthony instructed us to pivot the horse's inside front foot and maneuver it along the circle to be more in-tune with where we ask the horse to move. As we went into the trot, I felt Annie was very stiff and bracey, but worked with it. Anthony doesn't really like to see the horse's rounded up too much so I tried to keep a steady jumping contact vs dressage contact that I am used to doing with her. Her strides felt a bit choppy and uncoordinated, but we did manage to get her to swing a little bit. Certainly not as much as I have had in previous lessons though.

We did find again, that I am too loud with my aids and I have a hard time keeping my spur off of the horse. With short legs and the unfortunate habit of turning my toes outwards, it makes my spurs a bit of a problem. Part of me is curious if this had anything to do with Annie's resistance in the trot that day, or if she was just tired/sore.

A more forward trot helped us get that lift
in the trot poles - going too slow made Annie
hesitate/hit poles.
From there, we went into a canter and it was AMAZING. We had exactly 0 problems with leads, cross-firing, and turning right. The mare was ON it. At one point, Anthony called out, "Are you smiling? Because you should be smiling!" She moved out willingly when I asked, brought herself back when I asked... and it was just wonderful.

We did a bunch of sitting trot as well and it made me hyper aware that Annie has the drift left problem going left as well - Anthony caught onto this and made a comment as to how when they drift left going left it is easier to fix and it will help me on the right side as well. We worked a lot at the trot in this lesson and worked hard to establish a go button and have Annie hold it herself. She backs off a bit when things change or when I ride more tentatively (see point below), so that's something I need to change.

Since we nailed the canters and showed aptitude for steering (praise the lord, haha), we were allowed to move onto trot poles and a few cross-rails. Unfortunately, my brain kinda spilled out and I tried to over-ride everything which made the poles and jumps messy. Anthony reminded me to be bold - ride my horse boldly and commit to things. If I ride tentatively, the horse is going to apply itself tentatively.

One of our first attempts - she completely
demolished this jump, haha.
But #learning.

Some things to note from this lesson:

  • Leave her alone - turn your toes inwards and take your spur out. When she complies with your request, leave her alone.
  • All you need to do is steer an be along for the ride once you get what you are looking for.
  • THAT is your canter.
  • Ride boldly; don't be tentative going to the jumps because she will become tentative.
  • Be more committed; go into a half-seat and bring yourself forward when you get to the jumps. Show your horse what you want her to do.
  • She isn't quite sure what you want when she gets to the jumps. She is going to make mistakes - she is going to hit jumps, she is going to hesitate, she is going to land awkwardly. It's all OK. Let her make the mistake (also the theme of Day 1).
  • Lower your hands.
  • She is thinking and trying to figure out what you want. Don't repeat it until she gets it right once - repeat it until she gets it right a few times.
  • The only way to get better at something is correct repetition. She can make mistakes, but you also need to repeat the exercise to instill the correctness. <- This particular point really resonated with me, especially when I think back to our canter woes. When she got the right lead, I'd stop and be done. Which, sometimes it's practical to do it that way, but you also need to push the boundaries and ask for it multiple times so it becomes a habit.
  • Do you have a go button? Does the horse respond and hold themselves forward?
  • Going forward doesn't mean trotting faster - it means bigger, bolder steps.
  • Everything with horses comes down to discipline - the rider has to be disciplined in what they do with their horse.
  • You don't do well sitting waiting your turn (to jump), get yourself warmed up and moving around just before the other rider is finished their course/exercise.

Another attempt - getting better...
And she was trusting my decisions more.
As we progressed through the jumping, Annie got better and better. At first, she fumbled over the jumps, then landed trotting.... then tripped... but eventually popped over and rolled into a canter quietly. I haven't jumped her much and usually when I have lots of eyes on me, I get super tentative about anything I ask of my horses, so it was good to have that direction and clarity from Anthony that I need to be bolder. 

We finished by doing a small course of three jumps and ended it there. I was SUPER pleased with the ride - it felt a million times better and Annie was more compliant than she has ever been in the canter especially. The trot felt sticky, but looking at the photos that were taken, she just looks a titch behind the leg but nothing terrible. It'll get there!

MUCH better.
Good bean!
After the lesson, I quickly rode cajoled Annie over to where the farrier was. She was super snorty and flinched at a bunch of sounds, but I just kicked her forwards. It was terrifying wandering over there by herself don't you know. The farrier and I spoke for a few seconds and I wandered back to my trailer to untack and grab Spud before returning to where the farrier was set up.

Now, as most of my readers know, Annie has been a huge pain in the ass for the farrier in previous shoeings. She had been trimmed and hot shod a handful of times by this farrier and it went super well - she never moved a muscle. However, she seems to flip flop when she is good/bad and I can't seem to pinpoint what changes there were/are. 

Her very first trim she tried to jump a round-bale to get away from him and kicked out several times, her second trim she was a super good girl, her first two hot shoes she was a super star and then her third hot shoe she wouldn't even let him touch her. To the point where we could only put on front shoes after we struggled with her. When she went for training, he shod her with Trainer K present and allegedly she was somewhat nervous/anxious in the beginning but became quiet the moment they tied her by another horse's stall. She was shod in the front without incident and they left her hinds since she didn't really need them done at the time.

She may have been a dick for everything else on the weekend,
but she certainly wasn't for jumping.
On the weekend, I opted to just have the fronts done again to prevent a drawn out and frustrating session for the farrier. She was not great for him, but certainly not as bad as she had been (especially last year). I am just at the end of my rope with this behavior - this time she didn't shy away from him, she instead ripped her fronts away from him and would paw the air. She was smacked several times for the behavior and I did ask if he wanted me to lunge her - he said no. She did stand super quietly - albeit on HIGH alert when he did her hinds. 

Like come on mare, you should be tired. We just did two heavy work-out days and you still want to fight?

I just don't get it. I practice her holding up her feet /rasping them /picking them out/ pretending to hammer them ALL THE TIME. This isn't fucking news to her. Do I not practice enough? Am I not setting her up for success? I figured after a long hard clinic she would be much more amicable to have them done...

Testing the "slow" button during our warm up prior to jumping.
I apologized profusely to the farrier, because I know it isn't fun (or safe) for them to deal with horses like that and part of me is worried one day he'll just say "No thanks" when I ask him to come out and shoe. Although, he did assure me she certainly isn't the worst one he shoes. But still the whole situation left a sour taste in my mouth and the bad vibes from Saturday returned a bit.

I tried to keep positive tho, telling myself that she did do better than last time, especially in a very busy area. But still, I was frustrated. And mad. And embarrassed.

After Spud was finished (who was super good), I loaded them in the trailer and spoke with the farrier a few moments. Both horses were super quiet in the trailer, which I was happy with and took note that previously, Annie used to rock the entire trailer until I got in and started to drive. 

Small things, I guess. 

She wanted me to pet her face with my boot at the end of the
lesson, so I did as I was told.
The ride home was uneventful and the horses dug right into their hay when I put them out. Since then I've been alternating between tylenol and hot baths because I am so very sore. My body isn't used to the intense Anthony lessons, hah. Annie is also getting a few days off and then we'll resume tack-walking the neighborhood again.

The weekend was interesting and part of me so desperately wanted to give up and just sell the damn horse. I'm trying hard to push past the disappointments and set-backs, but it can be hard when you actually do put in the work and time and it feels like it's for nothing. And the even more frustrating is when you know and FEEL that the horse can be a good fucking horse but they just don't apply themselves to show you that... or they only show you little glimmers of how good they can be a bit at a time... inconsistently. Gah. Baby horses are a fricken process - and whoever told me that year 2 undersaddle was going to be a pain in the ass can go fly a kite, haha.

I'm not a total jerk to her, it'd be nice if she would


  1. Baby horses are so frustrating! I've had a lot of the same issues with my mare. They're so frustrating when they're inconsistent especially when you are putting in the work. So far mine has gotten better and better though and I'm sure Annie will too.

    1. Baby horses are stupid. And frustrating. Ugh.

      I'm glad you are reaping the rewards, I am hoping in due time I do too!

  2. Hugs and support from the 'working with a young turd club'. How do pro trainers even do this crap? Annie sounds like a good bean though for sure. And just imagine her in the hands of someone who wasn't putting in the training needed to shape her into a reliable well mannered partner. She's lucky to have you :)

    1. I wouldn't be able to do this professionally, hah. I'd just pull my hair out. I don't understand how people can be so patient with their horses.

      Thanks, Wendy.

  3. I totally feel you. My red horse was a saint for year one. Now we are solidly into year two and he’s a freaking tool more often than not. Today he was convinced the only possible way to canter was to throw your head in the air and flail your front legs about.

    1. She threw me some sass last year, which I think is because I was handling her with kid gloves a bit (bc omg she's a baby). I'm glad I'm not the only one suffering, haha.

  4. Ugh. I need to get Cisco out to a few places this year. Pretty sure it's going to go the same way your weekend went. I am not looking forward to it.

    1. She was taken out last year quite a bit, and was much better behaved for it than she was this weekend. I don't know what is up her butt - growing pains?

  5. I think that was a very SUCCESSFUL day. So you should be proud. Yes she is a turd but she is your turd and she really looks great over fences. It will come. And it sounds like A LOT was going on at that place both days so even Remus might have lost his ever-loving mind over some of that stuff going on LOL (Desensitizing clinic at the same time. OMG).

    As to the farrier, it almost sounds like she is going for negative reinforcment. IE If she messes up she gets attention. I know it sounds crazy but some animals like to be fussed at/yelled at etc. My friend had a cat (I know not a horse) who would knock stuff off the chest of drawers at 3 am EVERY NITE just so she would get up and yell at him. LOL He loved it then would take off bouncing). ANIMALS.

    I hope you feel better soon and less sore. I have a lesson tomrorow with Emily and then trail ride on Sat so by Sunday you and I can share the pills and I will be the one in the hot bath :)

    Plus Spud is the BEST too bad he is not bigger ;) HA

    1. LOL. Yes, she IS my turd. Unfortunately.

      She was SUPER for the ride and did eventually get her shit together for standing at the trailer, which was nice. I just wish I didn't have to battle her for it sometimes.

      Oooh, interesting point. I hadn't thought of that before. I'll have to try some stuff out with her next time.

      Lucky!! Have a wonderful lesson and ride! It's pouring rain here right now so I doubt I'll be getting out.

      I have always said I wished Spud was a full size horse... but he can be such a dick that I immediately reverse my train of thought on that one haha

  6. But look at those knees! All is forgiven. ;)

  7. sorry you're having a tough time right now :( weekends away from home can be so hard, esp for horses who are used to a lot of turnout and a quieter routine. seems like you got a lot of tools out of the lessons tho!

    1. I'm sure it'll get better - it's just... frustrating being "that" horse and rider sometimes.

  8. Baby horses are tough! Especially girl ones with all the feelings and opinions.
    Maybe you should try to have Annie shod at the same location each time. It may be extra stressful when she's in a different environment? Some horses are just really anxious about it in general. My trainer's old grand prix horse had to be sedated to get shod his whole life. And her husband is the farrier! So obviously, they tried everything before resorting to that.
    I'm glad the second lesson day went so much better though!

    1. They certainly can be.

      We typically do, but sometimes I try to make it for sake of convenience. Makes sense tho, and we'll keep plugging along with it. She doesn't necessarily need to be sedated - she just fidgets and paws and acts stupidly, but I don't imagine it's much fun for the farrier to deal with.

  9. Day 2of the clinic sounds like much more fun, although I am totally with you on not being fit enough for those multi day clinics. Man they kick my butt. Eugene is also not a fan of farrier work and at this point he just gets drugged. We use oral dorm so we don't need a vet to be there and can do it ourselves. Works great. Obviously it'd be better if we didn't have to do that, but the farrier is happy and we need to keep our farrier so we're happy.

    1. Day 2 was MUCH better.

      Aw, poor guy! I imagine being a "wild mustang" he still has some quirks. Unfortunately for Annie, she did not come off a range lol, so she'll have to deal. I Hope we dont have to resort to drugs... I don't think she should need them, esp because she doesn't have past history or anything...

  10. What an awesome improvement from day 1 to Day 2!!

  11. So sorry you're having a rough go of it lately. Young horses are absolutely a journey! But she sounds like she's getting there...just....slowly lol. And her KNEES over the jumps <3 What a cutie.

    Perhaps set some firm - but generous - deadlines for certain achievements/behaviors and if those things haven't been met by those times, reevaluate what you want and/or make a decision about how things will change moving forward. For my head, I find that doing this is good as it allows me ample time to Do A Thing and gives the side of me that loves giving 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances and lots of excuses permission to STFU because I know I gave it my all.

    1. They certainly are...

      I am happy with how Day 2 went and as far as deadlines, I'd like to see where this year takes us. I think with all the clinics/lessons I'm entering we'll be able to suss out whatever issues we have with a ton of support/direction vs last year where we just kind of noodle-necked around. It does make sense tho, and I feel like after that weekend, I'm taking a less "Oooh poor young horse" approach.