Friday, May 31, 2019

Ladies Camp: Day 2

Spoiler alert.
Friday night, although cool and breezy, wasn't actually too terrible sleeping in the utility trailer. The lack of heater was noticed, but I ended up just pulling my sleeping bag up around my ears and managed to fall asleep. We were woken up several times through the night as the rain was insanely loud against the metal roof. 
By morning, the rain had vanished and it was borderline too hot to wear pants. I wasn't scheduled to ride until noon, so I had a leisurely morning of getting myself dressed, feeding the pony, feeding myself, and watching my two bunk-mates ride. 

When S and K took their horses from the paddocks beside Annie, I was mostly surprised that Annie, although distressed and upset, silently went back to her hay when Tyson and Fru refused to answer her desperate calls. In fact, Tyson and Fru ignored Annie most of the weekend, #thirdwheel.

Soon enough, it was getting close to my ride time and I pulled Annie out of the paddock where she had been munching on hay and tied her to the trailer. The trailer was kind of tucked behind the indoor arena, and the view of the horses and remainder of paddocks was obscured. Annie was very finicky at the trailer - moving around, pawing, and breathing deeply. I hung her hay bag and ignored it, slowly getting myself (and her), ready. 

She continued to misbehave at the trailer and once she had most of her tack on, I walked away to put my boots and helmet on. I'm all for discipline, but in this instance, mare needed to work out her problems on her own. 

Unfortunately, Annie got pretty pissed with my #ZenNinja-ness and started to kick out with her one hind. I stepped in when she managed to kick the rubber part of one of the trailer tires. For one, it isn't my horse trailer, and secondly, I was running out of time and while I was trying to make a point, having a riled up horse to ride wasn't going to be beneficial.

Yaaaas, weeerk Mare.
I removed her from the trailer, but stood in hand, reprimanding her attempts to walk off to rejoin her friends. She sighed and we moseyed to the mounting block, I hopped on, and off we went up the hack trail to the outdoor arena.

She spooked when we crested the hill and spotted several horses warming up in the ring, I gave her a pat and in we went. The lesson went really, really well. In fact, you wouldn't have even guessed she was a giant butt-face at the trailer. She tried hard, dug in deep, and gave me some really quality work.

Some of the tidbits I gleaned from this lesson (some are repeats from the day before):

  • Elongating the neck does not = long and low. You want rein contact, and you want her poll slightly elevated. You simply want her neck longer - letting the muzzle tip out to uncurl her throatlach and have her crest even.
  • Put more weight on your inside toes. I don't even know how Trainer K figured out I was riding balancing on my big toe, but apparently she did.
  • Need a bit more forward for a Dressage trot - forward does not equal fast.
  • Hands up a bit higher and even.
  • During the leg yields, keep her as straight as possible. Don't be afraid to ask MORE. You ask for sideways, get more cross-over with the legs vs shuffling.
  • After warming up on a longer rein and allowing her neck to be more elongated, pick her up into a higher frame. Think of the neck as a waterfall - you want it to be flowing. If there is a bend at the lower vertebrae, you will see it as a bulge. 
I'm sure there were way more tips and tidbits, but I am having serious memory loss from having so many lessons in one weekend and not writing anything down while I was away, haha. It was good tho, I was pretty proud of her and was pleased she was able to be so relaxed and rideable in such a new, exciting place. The stupidity at the trailer (which was addressed all weekend) was frustrating, but I was both ecstatic and proud she showed up and went to work. 

The weekend really made me miss my Trainer K lessons though, because we worked on so much! By the end of each lesson, I was reminded of how many things we *can* work on and how many things we *should* be working on. 

It can be tough, sometimes, to go to clinics and be stuck on a 20m circle trying to achieve bend and relaxation. I mean, those lessons are well warranted and have their place, but it leaves me a bit unmotivated and feeling kind of... undeserving to work on things outside of some basics. But, the ladies camp kinda breathed new life back into me - reminding me that there are tons of things to work on and that demanding perfection 100% of the time is just not a realistic goal. In schooling, things have to get messy first ;) 

With all of that being said tho, I realized just how much more I can start to push for quality (vs passable) work. There has to be a balancing act tho, and like all things, I took advantage of the weekend to try new things and push myself (and Annie) to be better. Which is half of the reason she got to visit a certain alder tree after being a naughty Bannie (although not as terrible as she was pre-ride) post-ride. 

Call it Personal Development Time if you want. It didn't take her long to settle and give up - but she made for darn sure we all know how unhappy she was by kicking a tree behind her and pawing angrily. 

Annie's alter-ego was strong on Saturday, lol.
She was returned to her paddock once her opinions fizzled out and I climbed back up the long hill to watch S and K's jumping lesson. After that, I an afternoon snack and was hauling Annie back out for our 4pm jump lesson.

She was marginally better at the trailer, but kept fidgeting and just acting like a miserable cow. Tacking her up was easier this time, as she was not moving so much. Not wanting to leave her tied to the trailer lest she have more opinions, we wandered to the mounting block and toodled up the hack trail behind some of our lesson-mates.

I was feeling pretty darn confident heading to jump, as one of our last schools and lessons went really well and I felt like I could easily do 18" - 2' courses, especially with Annie being so complacent and agreeable in the ring. 

The lesson was off to a good start - we did a bunch of stirrupless, posting-canter, etc. But... the wheels kinda fell off when I needed to do a full course. I'm not sure if it was lack of sleep, aching muscles, the oppressing heat, or all of the above combined but Annie felt kinda hot and finicky (a happy "let me jump!!1!!1" kind of finicky). I struggled to keep my two point and kept chipping her deep into the lines. It made my confidence waver, and Trainer K kept reciting the same thing at me and I just couldn't get my body to do the thing.

Eventually, I pulled up and Trainer K and I had a quick discussion, wherein I acknowledged what she was asking and that I was trying, but I just couldn't get my body to comply in the way she wanted. 

All in all, it felt like a monumental disaster and kinda shot my confidence but Annie was really good and packed me through most of it. We were both a little wirey and rough around the edges which didn't make for a good lesson. The good part is that it wasn't all awful, and I should be partly flattered that Trainer K was asking me to step my game up. 

Plus - we were still sailing above and beyond my weekend expectations. Annie was not only rideable but she was comfortable and felt CONFIDENT in what we were doing. I couldn't have asked for more.

Maybe she was a little too confident tho, because after the lesson I halted her in the warm up ring to speak to S and K while the other horses were leaving. I'm not really sure what happened, but I assume Annie wanted to follow the other horses and when I said "hold on", she kicked out with her hind leg and then proceeded to cow-kick the air 5-8 more times. I kinda looked at K, bewildered before leaping off in an emergency dismount. Bannie got a bad girl spank, but I'm not really sure what the hell she thought she was going to accomplish. She felt fired up as I led her down the footpath, and although she tied to the trailer better than in the morning, she earned herself another time out with Mr. Alder for being a little too rambunctious. 

Hey, I'm Bannie and I make bad choices, lol
And oh man was she pissed - she threw herself into one tree, attempted to lay down, pawed, kicked out, screamed, and then wrapped herself around the tree as she did circle after circle. After 40 minutes of watching her, drinking some alcoholic beverages in white plastic chairs, we all kinda shrugged and agreed it would be best to retie her (higher and shorter) and just leave her to her devices. So, we did (make no mistake, I left the dinner frequently to check her). 

She got her shit together, and after a 3 hour stint she remembered her brains and politely walked back to her paddock without trying to run me over or frantically see her friends. I closed the paddock gate and she didn't even so much as look at her neighbor and instead, dove into her hay.

I felt accomplished this day - aside from the trailer issues, I felt confident in my ability to rectify the issues and was glad that the campers who walked by and saw Annie doing the hokey pokey attached to the tree shrugged and said with the utmost solidarity, "Been there."

While I would have preferred to not, I was glad I had the ability to. It isn't a measure I would utilize repetitively, but it worked for us and I am quite certain I will use it in the future if necessary.


  1. You two look absolutely incredible in those video clips!
    I think Sophie is going to have some of the same opinions as Annie - we change her paddock and neighbours frequently and there is a tantrum every.single.time the arrangements are not to her liking :)

    1. Thank you!!

      Haha, yah, I was embarrassed by the Annie-tantrums, but I think she learned that they won't get her very far.

  2. Sounds like a big day with a lot of good / educational experiences haha

  3. It sounds like a great experience for you two. Congratulations on handling her so well.

    1. Yes!! It was a big, hectic weekend but it was good!!

  4. Kind of sounds to me like maybe she was in season? I'm glad the ring work went well though! And good for you for not letting the Bannie attitude rattle you!

    1. I wish she was, but she wasn't. I was actually quite surprised because she is very... vocal about when she is in heat.

  5. I have also employed the Tree of Jesus before with a horse from long ago. Nature sure knows how to give. :P She looks super under saddle though!

    1. BAHAHAH.
      We called it her Personal Development Time. She spent many hours there and if anything, it's for the best!