Monday, May 23, 2016
As promised, work has been busy after returning from the Buck clinic. Still I’ve carved out a get back on the trail afternoon for a 12 mile ride and snuck in a morning to warm up our arena skills inspired by seeing the work in action in Reno.
I saw some cool reins at the clinic and after being on a year long casual search with nothing really interesting me more than my current biothhane reins (which I like) I found horse hair mecates.
I am not quite ready to go whole hog ranch style so the 22 foot mecate set up wasn’t really what I wanted however I did want to find horse hair and as luck would have it, at a last stop to a western tack shop on the way to the airport (because once I got home the Internet was going to be my only option) – they had one non-mecate Mexican made mane hair 9 foot continuous rein with rawhide connectors (maybe my favorite part!).
I had also decided to go back to a snaffle bit at least for some work. A main reason I had transitioned to the Imus comfort bit was at that early time I had considered seeing if Khaleesi would gait (rack most likely) and though I didn’t want to weight her feet and tie down her head, some poll action to encourage her to carry herself in a way that would make a gait easy seemed to make sense. Especially because I like the bit and it doesn’t operate through pain.
However if I wanted to experiment with a soft feel and eventually ride in a bosal I decided going back to the snaffle would simplify the communication and make her use her mind more than my aids.
So we have temporarily lost the red head gear (which will continue to hold my comfort bit for now should I need to grab it) and have set up an old pretty leather temporary headstall with a nice sweet iron D ring snaffle and my Mexican horse hair reins with rawhide connectors.
First ride back in the snaffle was fine. We climbed the mountain over into Bolar property and rode right through downtown (for any of you who haven’t ridden in my area- Bolar was a bustling center of activity 100 years ago or more and now is almost a ghost town- but a pretty place). The climb with some rocks near the ridge is a great workout for the OD and we did a lot of trot and canter back to keep the heart rate up.
Khaleesi seemed willing to work after her long vacation and since Susan beat me to the barn (I had morning appointments) she brought the girls in alone-
I’ve seen those cartoons of people trying to bring in more than one horse at once like triton wrangling monster sea horses. Not my girls! One little source of pride I have is you can walk both of mine safely together calmly next to you.
She played around with the snaffle a little and I had to add a hole to bring it high enough that she couldn’t get her tongue over it. She doesn’t seem to mind it and though it was a new feeling to return to (we did early work briefly in a snaffle) it was fine.
She asked to turn around more than usual and I decided instead of holding fast on her head to go into the turn and do circles whenever she tried it- I am not using a chinstrap at the moment and though the D is likely to stop it- I didn’t want to risk pulling the bit through her mouth as she pulled hard the other way.
On the way home we picked up the energy and both girls got a little racy. I had less stopping and slowing power physically and knew I wasn’t getting her mind with me so both Susan and I made both horses run forward and slow and be passed etc (a little leap frogging) to bring their minds to us instead of feeding off each other.
Sunday morning however was less positive.
Being a concert day and short on time I went to the barn at 7am to get a couple hours in and decided to go into our little arena to try some leg yields, soft feel and serpentines. Also trot on the rail with control – we always seem to drift in the trot and I’m not sure if it’s her mind that I’m not in sync with or if it’s my body doing something funky to translate the drift. Also I never trot circles so I can’t ever figure out the correct diagonal. Thought I’d at least give that one more try!
We had a list of things to try which was good considering I didn’t want to burn her out on anything for too long.
The morning began beautifully. She walked with me like a dream, we did some back up and leading practice. What a team!
So… Though we did some nice work she also wanted to stop at one side to look at handsome Levi the sun King gazing at her from a distance. And when I asked to trot the rail she started ok, then began to fuss-
I don’t like this direction, let’s go back the other way.
That ground pole makes me have to pay attention, I’m going around it.
I want to go through the middle.
I hate you! You never let me do what I want.
(Ok that last one could be a tiny bit of anthropomorphic hyperbole)
After the argument began she eventually reverted to crow hopping and shaking her head in frustration and since that is so out of the ordinary with her I decided to get off and work her. I pulled my reins off and sent her around at a trot.
You are going to do this. It’s going to be worse for you if I’m not up there!
We went back to hook on-join up or whatever you want to call it where my goal was to get her to choose me again a her comfort and place she can relax.
How did that go you ask?
She was stubborn.
She was trotting, I turned her, kept her feet moving around me and she would she the signs- smaller circle, ear on me… I would relax my energy and allow her to stop, and change my posture, invite her to me.
She would stand perfectly still. Never tried to eat the grass- looking at me but would not soften and would not come with me.
I sent her on 4 times with about the same results.
The last time I knew I was running out of time and also losing the opportunity to make something positive out of this.
I walked up to her and put my pinkie through the D ring and asked her to walk a few steps with me. She did. I let go and kept walking- she took at least two more steps- I stopped and rubbed her.
Not a glorious partnership but something.
After that we were fine again.
I can disagree with you and still love you I suppose.
Someone with more experience might have sorted that out more cleanly but this is where we are together. Figuring it out.
There is always the next time!