Monday, 8 December 2014

Stormy Ride

The nest time I talk about starting a baby horse, you guys slap me upside the head and knock some sense into me, OK? (Yes, kidding, but only sorta) 

As with all bad rides, it's mostly my fault. I haven't ridden in a week, after all, and I seem to easily forget this is a baby pony we're training here, not a been there, done that grown up with pre installed brain and work ethic.

After an uneventful, if 'looky' hack, it became apparent after I got Ms Bridget to the ring that she was feeling SUPER good. But as is the way with Bridget, super good doesn't equate to moving out and forward and easily burning off a little steam. It equates to giraffe impersonations, spooking, bucking and being counter bent despite all the best efforts of the rider. Super good also equates to giving the rider the pony middle finger and generally doing the opposite of what's expected. The only thing you know for sure is she's not moving forward reliably since that's just plain old hard work. Honestly, if it was any other horse I would have got off and lunged a little until the brain returned to the same general zip code. Since this is Bridget, I just stayed where I was in the saddle and made the pony move forward. 

The good news? We cantered, and cantered some more, and even had enough gas in the tank to practice trot/canter transitions.  Did I have to "cowgirl up" to make it happen? Yes, yes I did. Since pony was in a mood all I wanted was forward. Was it pretty? No, not overly. I didn't care about leads, bend, straightness, contact, any of it, just getting her moving her feet forward and getting to work. Was pony pleased? No, not at all, but it happened anyways. I am getting really good at a well timed spank with the crop mid buck. I don't like using my crop, but bucking as an evasion to not go forward is really stupid and not a habit we need to establish - in my opinion it's worthy of a spanking, even though I end up feeling guilty about it later. Anyways,  I win round 1 since we had some unexpectedly excellent canter work after a few minutes and I ended it there.

Round two was won by Bridget. Banana giraffes only bend to the outside of the circle, didn't you know? It was made obvious I really, really like to weight my outside stirrup on the circle when baby pony had a dramatic spook to the inside of the circle and, oops...that saddle really wasn't tight at all. Sigh. Pony wins because we had to stop and unattach the saddle from her side, and put it back to it's proper home over the center of her back. Double win because my ineffectiveness at getting her to focus on our direction of travel led to her finding monsters in the bushes outside the ring to spook at, leading to our saddle malfunction and pony getting a nice relaxing break. Predictably, she thought some more dramatics in that corner would equal another time out, but no such luck so I guess I get an honorable mention :)
Time out in the corner. There are monsters in those bushes, stoopid human

After that fun, I put her back to work on circles, spirals, and figure eights, with random transitions thrown in. Bridget was not impressed at all, and I'd love to say it got better and we found a good note to end on, but we didn't really. All I wanted was ONE nice circle, but it was proving very difficult indeed when the hamsters are absent from the wheel. I finally got a mostly nice circle on a proper bend followed by a halt where she didn't completely plow through me and called it good. She must have been as relieved as me, because surprisingly she was really stretching down and enjoying a little cool down walk. On the way home though, there was much dramatic spooking and general silliness, leaving me feeling like I managed to actually make things worse over the course of the ride. I was reminded of my coach's comments about how she's just going through a stage in training and like any smart horse asking "why should I?" and trying out her options. She's also a lot fitter than she was and feeling good. True enough, but I do feel I could have been more tactful today and redirected things better rather than picking fights and having to follow through. 
Yay for stretchy walk to finish!


The good? Even on her worst day ever, I'm not worried or nervous of her behavior and am always thinking of ways to work through it - I never feel over faced or unsure about what to do next. The bad? I can't seem to leave the expectations at the door and still end up feeling disappointed and taking it personally when things don't go to plan. Ponies certainly have a way of keeping me humble!

"Incredible", "Intense", "Bombarding"...even the poor person writing the weather warnings this morning was feeling extra dramatic!


11 comments:

  1. Lol - bombard the mountains… that's a new one!

    I feel your pain on the guilty spanking, but sometimes it's necessary and I think you're saving yourself trouble down the road. :) Way to go for sticking the ride out! Sometimes I think one should take pride in that alone.

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    1. I've always thought that if things get to the point of being exciting, I'm doing it wrong, but yes, I do feel like I did what needed to be done in the moment and that's more than I would have been confident doing a year or two ago at least.

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  2. You could be describing my arena ridden with both last week - deff something in the air. Good for you toughing it out and pushing for your good note to end on. Can be so hard sometimes, they deff don't make it easy on us do they? ;-)

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    1. I'm hope it's just the wintertime feel goods rather than a coordinated effort for horses to rule the world :) But seriously, it does seem that a lot of people are having the same sort of rides right now, we're not alone.

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  3. sounds frustrating ... i know exactly that feeling of 'give me just ONE good circle' and still never actually getting it... ugh. my undying optimism makes me want to believe that the ponies still learn something through it all - even if it's that being dramatic takes energy too lol

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    1. I'm undyingly optimistic too, I think I've mentioned before on the blog that even a few seconds of my horse working properly and 'with' me is enough to sustain me for many weeks ha ha B is so lazy I am definitely living in hope that she figures out that good pony = no nagging and a very short, easy ride. Bad pony = a much longer ride and much harder work for her.

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  4. Good for you for "cowgirling up" and getting some canter work in. I think a smack with a crop mid-buck is an excellent "NO" button :)
    And yes that weather forecast seemed very dramatic haha

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    1. I had a giggle over it the other morning, picturing some english lit major or magazine columnist all down on their luck and accepting a job writing weather updates for environment canada instead and making the best of it:)

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  5. I honestly don't have an issue with the spanking as long as you start soft. You prepare and put the idea in their head, you ask them to follow your cues, and if that doesn't work, you make it apparent that what you want is the only answer. Whacking them with a crop or whip is NOTHING close to what another horse could do to her if she didn't move.

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    1. I'm all about staying soft and just ask nicely first on a loose rein and a soft seat so there's no way I can accidently punish her for moving out. I know I need to do it, and I know with Bridget it just is what it is - cause and effect, but I do find it hard to stay detached and unemotional it. Not so much in a "I feel mean" way,because you are right, she's consistently rude/pushy in the herd too and the other horses don't let her get away with that without some pretty rough discipline, yet she's content and obviously not intimidated at all. I more worry and feel guilty that I'm messing this whole training thing up - I've always been told good training is not exciting and our rides have been bordering on exciting of late :)

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  6. Huge thanks to everyone for the excellent comments and advice! It's super cool having such a supportive community right at my fingertips. Really nice to feel that I can be completely honest about my rides and everyone has been there before and no one is judging :))

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