Tuesday, May 24, 2016
We went to see my closest mentor today! It’s so nice to have some experienced eyes on what I’m doing.
I need some direction and help. I’m full of inspiration yet floundering around with my groundwork and on Sunday our time in the arena was less than perfect.
It was so helpful to have a pair of eyes on me but oh how small I feel as a speck on the bottom of the mountain of horsemanship in front of me.
Will I ever be good at this?
I can’t seem to think of more than one thing at a time and throw my energy around carelessly creating movement I don’t want from my wonderfully sensitive horse.
The good news is that I can practically look at a foot and tell it to move in my mind and she will. The bad news is I can’t seem to walk around her hind with fly spray without translating energy that tells her move away from me! How cool that was to find that she may not love being sprayed- but if I don’t put energy with the fly spray bottle toward her legs she actually DOES stand still!
Oh the problems we don’t know we are creating. Reminds me of the many horse people who have said something like:
Your horse is smart. Your horse is going to learn something. Hopefully it’s the things you intend to teach.
There was also a moment I tried: asking her to step her front foot over. I did my signal and after a moment she stepped over… AND forward toward me.
Good- but you don’t want her to move toward you.
Well you asked her to. When you signaled you weren’t straight. You pulled your arm back slightly. She was doing exactly what your signal said.
Of course she was. She is better at horse Jedi language than I am. Being a horse and all.
This is why I need help!
I am armed this week with some solid new ground moves and my goal (similar to Bucks groundwork) is to be able to separate hind and shoulder and move them independently. Also to have better control of each foot- to ask her to back up with which foot I want to move specifically not just go back.
In the saddle I have gotten better at one important thing this year: I know what each foot is doing at the walk. I can now time my request at the walk with a footfall by feel.
However at the trot came the blow up. Just like on Sunday, we went around once or so but it felt really wrong. Then she pinned her ears tried to turn me toward the fence and threw a fit.
I was glad for someone else to see this unusual behavior.
Try again- do not let her turn you. Kick her! Get a few nice steps and then stop. Keep your butt deep in that saddle!!
We walked to start (fine) picked up a trot and again- pinned ears, angry, fighting, head around nipping toward my shoe even.
I think I got one or two accidental trot steps where her ears were forward and we stopped.
This was the second time I’d seen this but it was so out of character for her personality we both agreed something is wrong. We agreed it was big communication that was trying to tell me something and didn’t seem just like a sour attitude. I was glad to get a second opinion because I don’t want to encourage naughty blow ups but I also don’t want to ignore her trying to tell me something isn’t right. That starts a problematic chain of events with the horse developing a negative opinion of me which is very very hard to counteract.
Once you’ve lost their trust it’s a long road to regain it.
My hope is that it coincided with the snaffle bit change and something is annoying or painful with the trot in the snaffle. (Could have been my hands moving too much- even though I tried to fix that issue and still the blow up came).
One thing is for sure- she is not a mare to suffer in silence. No stoic martyr in this girl- flies bothering her, feet sensitive on hard rocks, or something she doesn’t like she will tell me!
Not wanting to end on such a terrible note (I know we do that for the horse but I probably would have gone home and cried myself it was such a fight we had) we walked the arena again and worked on circles and better rein communication from me.
She was basically ok. We ended positive.
I had a full day and after dropping Khaleesi off I just wanted to take a nap. I felt like my brain was rattling around with all kinds of things I needed to sleep on and process.
I needed a moment to lick and chew and yawn.
No luck- appointments and a diner engagement were on the calendar.
Next step is to try the other bit and see if that makes the difference. If it ain’t broke maybe we don’t need to fix it.
Overall however I was feeling a little hopeless and like the mountain was so big and how could I find the time it would take to get anywhere. I was talking to my dad and said (half joking):
It was so much easier when I could just ride around on my horse in ignorance to all this. We were pretty good together… We could do basically what we needed to. Now I can never go back to that but man this is a lot of work!
A little later I heard a timely interview with western horseman Richard Winters. What he said reminded me that I have the grit to keep at anything I care about – and truly I would never go back to being just a ‘horseback rider’ even if I could. I will go the next day and get a little better. I will climb up the mountain one little footfall at a time even if I only get to the foothills it will be better than never taking a step!
She is so worth the price.
Really anyone can learn to be a horseback rider. Horseman is a more elite group. I don’t think everyone is willing to pay the price it takes to truly become a horseman. –Richard Winters