Thursday, 1 December 2016

Bridget Says No! No! No!

I had extra time last night, so I sat and watched a lesson prior to my own. That's something I wish I could do more of, I feel like I learn almost as much listening and watching as when I'm  riding.

Bridget warmed up awful. She was supremely fresh, but behind the leg - even a smack with my stick resulted in pinned ears and inverted rushing for a stride or two before she'd attempt to quit again, suck back and spook at the world. Since I'm not a fan of bad pony tude, I was irritated right from the start and really got on her case about moving forward without wiggling and fussing. Which honestly, in Bridget land, means kicking and smacking the pony. Not something I enjoy doing repeatedly in a ride, but subtlety is not a thing when she's in that mood. Back to basic riding horse bootcamp for Midge! We warmed up mostly in canter, since for Bridget, at least, canter seems to be the key to getting her unstuck.

My angry, wound up ball of a pony finally started to soften, but the sparkle was lacking. Good Pony B was just not in a mood to play, I guess.

Our exercise du jour was ground poles set up in the following pattern:


We started at trot. The blue poles were spaced a bit far for Bridget, so they were helpful in getting her moving a little more. Of course she was unimpressed and her method involved a bit more giraffe sulkiness than I think EC was hoping for. ("AHHHH, the evil poles are making me go forward!!1!"). The bendy line coming back was worse, since now we had to change the bend, and once again B couldn't bend left. Eventually, though we started seeing progress and had some nice work.

We moved up to canter. The task: Walk to canter, canter through the blue poles, back to walk, pick up canter again in the corner and go through the bendy line. Sounds good, except B decided to opt out of cantering last night. I guess she used up the daily canter ration in the warm up? Trotting off was a thing, bouncing around in place was a thing, popping the outside shoulder and flying sideways was a thing, flat out ignoring and walking was a thing. Cantering? No. So, I spent the last half of the lesson on a 20m circle reminding B that walk to canter is indeed a thing we do every ride, as is bending left and cantering without randomly stopping or bolting off. Naughty pony. Eventually, I was told to just drop the reins, kick her forward and follow up with the whip. Doesn't matter whether she trots a stride or two or picks up the wrong lead...just make the pony move. We ended when she finally (grudgingly) cantered from my leg alone. I guess even EC was losing hope in getting a nice transition.

EC gave me a pep talk basically saying it's entirely possible to make a dull horse sharp, easier than making a naturally sharp horse less reactive. In other words, don't be discouraged, hard work and consistency will win in the end. Still, much as I adore the Midge, I went home frustrated with my riding and my pony. We seem to fight the same battles over and over. I was OK with it when she was green, less so now that she 100% knows what we want, but just declines to show up to work. I'm also upset with myself for playing into it and investing emotion into things by getting so frustrated with her. On the plus side, these days used to be a regular occurrence, now they're a once every few weeks sort of thing. Progress, even when it doesn't feel like it in the moment :)

19 comments:

  1. The pony battles never truly disappear, at least in my experience, but they do get less frequent and less dramatic! And the more you can create good training experiences and downplay the 'tude, the better. You guys have made progress in leaps and bounds this year, don't lose hope because of a tantrum! :)

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    1. I wish I had more confidence, I almost always go home after a bad ride feeling like I'm never going to get better or that I'm a terrible owner/trainer. If nothing else, B is going to make my mental game super strong :)

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    2. These guys are NOT easy to ride - they have their "Forcefield" and when they don't wanna... they put up the forcefield and there isn't much you can do to muscle them out of it! You have seriously come a lot further with B than many people would, so hang onto that! The more trained she gets the less frequent her outbursts will be. I find that changing things up all the time and changing the subject when they're having a meltdown really helps a lot - these smart ponies get OFFENDED when we try to do the same thing over and over again! She is a really, really cool partner for you, and I know you two will achieve a lot - even if it doesn't happen in quite the same way as it would with a "normal" horse. :)

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    3. Aww, thank you for the tips and the support. Appreciate it so much, particularly as I know you've had similar days with Dino and have had much success with the Euro Pony :)

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  2. I too a. A member of "same battle different day" club. We will get through it. This time of year you can't just say screw it, I'm going for a hack!

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    1. I try to remind myself of all her good qualities, but oh is it frustrating at times to fight variations of the same battle repeatedly.

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  3. The beginning of your blog post today reminded me of Pal. Often behind the leg, no booting or smacking would help, unless I got a good canter in. Sorry you had a bad start!

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    1. Ohh, I feel your pain. I've never ridden another horse quite like it. I notice even in the field if she is in a mood she is quite happy to let the other horses beat on her rather than just moving out of their space in even a remotely timely fashion. So weird.

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  4. I always get really down on myself when I have a bad ride too :( I also don't think pony attitude ever really goes away but now that Katai has been under saddle as long as she has she's realizing that sometimes it's just easier to go along with this harebrained idea.

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    1. Fingers crossed the ponies continue to work for good more often than evil :)

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  5. c'mon Bridge!! glad she at least started softening and trying. also i love that exercise and want to try it!!

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    1. It's a really good one - the bendy line really tests your skills, particularly at the canter.

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  6. Gah, I so go through the same with my guy! My trainer said the same thing- that it's easier to make a dull horse go forward than it is to slow down a hot one. And it just wasn't B's day, BUT that doesn't mean you both aren't improving! Hang in there, horses definitely aren't for the faint of heart!

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    1. Aww, thank you. Selfishly, it's nice to know I'm not alone in the struggle :)

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  7. Hopefully Midge shows up to play next time!

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  8. They tried to make her do the ground poles, and she said no, no, no!

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    1. She aint got the time

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    2. And her field mates think she's fine!

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