Friday, May 27, 2016

I took a personality profile as a college student (Myers Briggs type) and remember distinctly the line that stated for my type the best way to see something get accomplished is to tell me either it can’t be done, or can’t be done by me. 

Note to husband if he ever reads this: it does not work with mundane tasks such as housework or gardening. Must be something grand and interesting!

It’s rare as an adult anyone bothers to tell me something can’t be done but my brain occasionally takes that role when something seems overwhming. 

Two choices are possible: quit or get to work. 

So I get to work. 

I went to the barn Wednesday morning to wok and ride (we still have a 50 coming up in early June). 

The horses were at the farthest corner of the field when I arrived and did not come to greet me.


the tiny white speck is Faygo- you can’t even make put Khaleesi in the distant R corner
Faygo for her credit did try to walk my direction but Khaleesi pinned her ears and herded the mare back into the corner. 

Not surprising. I’ve struggled recently. 

Ironically she still came eagerly to the gate after the 55… It was the bit change fits and struggle in training that inspired her to communicate disinterest in working together.  

I walked out half way in the field and the girls finally relented and came toward me. I am no fool. They know my presence generally includes breakfast (or lunch or dinner depending only schedule). 

Faygo walked right past me to stand by her dish and Khaleesi stopped at my position in the field and looked at me. 

I stood still, I raised my hand to her palm down.

Want to say hi? Still friends?
Not really. Also I can’t let Faygo eat all the food. 
She lingered another moment and then continued on her path. 

I can hardly blame her. At least she came in. 

I turned to head the direction of the gate and Khaleesi stopped again. I walked in line with her and she invited me over. 

She stood still while I rubbed her and she willingly lowered her head in the halter for me to lead the rest of the way in. 

That’s better.

I fed Faygo in the field and Khaleesi and I went into the barn for breakfast then worked on some of the front-hind exercises.

I got a little better. I took small steps and enjoyed watching her process and think-Wednesday was a yawning fest all around. 

After some positive groundwork I saddled her for a conditioning ride. 

As for equipment I put my new favorite reins on my biothhane headstall with her favorite “4beat” (Phoenix Rising) comfort bit. 

But I also have watched her filling out this spring and had this nagging feeling I should try my wide tree version of our (also Phoenx Rising) saddle – the one I ride Faygo in. 

I tried that saddle on her in the winter and it fell right down onto her withers as it was too wide for her “A frame” shape. She has muscled in so much this spring I have been wondering if I need to revisit that. 

Of course I’ve avoided it because anything having to do with saddle fit- especially after all we went though to ‘solve’ this last fall is an absolute nightmare and I hold my hands over my ears doing the “LA LA LA LA LA” dance just thinking about it. I solved this problem. I invested in a saddle I love. 

If I’m truly honest there’s a part of me that just doesn’t want to know. 

The sad news was that the wide tree looked good on Khaleesi. In my opinion, very good. 

So I rode her in it. 

We had a great 12 mile ride. It was hot and humid and the trail had a pretty steep rocky-technical early climb then a nice ridge ride out and back. 

I wanted to work on a forward energized walk when she isn’t naturally in the mood. The heat made her feel lethargic and she would have been more motivated if we’d had company. 

I struggled getting her to stay in that energy. She would either kick into a trot and I had to let her know “That’s not what I’m asking” or she would take a few steps and then lull back into the dull lazy walk. 

I decided to get off and work it from the ground and a lightbulb went off. 

That energized walk feels really different in my body and in her movement. On the ground we have a good leading game- however, I never lead this style of walk. 

I walk normal, super slow, and even moderately fast. I practice leading at the trot for our trot outs. 

I have never practiced a true energized walk on the ground. 

She would drag, I would drive and she would trot to keep up. I tried again. I collected my energy and finally there in the woods she came with me exactly. 

I stopped. Buck talks about how important timing and true release is. If I want her to learn quickly I use ask the same exact way each time and realize completely. Complete release has to be more than just physical. 

Physical is two fold for me: stop; but also I now do a body scan to see if I’m holding tension anywhere. Unlock my knees, soften my eyes, lately I find I have to move my jaw and tongue as they tend to hang on the most to tension. 

One thing I remind myself is not to get excited that we did it. High emotions are not a release for the horse, even if it’s triumph. 

And I do a check on my brain. Have I stopped thinking about the fast walk? Release the brain as well. 

We stood together in total relaxation while she yawned and licked. Her tongue came out of her mouth. She did three sets of this- literally 9 big yawns. 


these aren’t the best full yawn shots but I am trying to be low key low energy so its hard to not interrupt the process with pictures!

I hope she was thinking about a fast energized walk, but I also hoped she was thinking about our relationship and my leadership.

The rest of the ride went well. 

Occasionally I would stop and ask her to pivot around her front or hind. She did pull some turn arounds and I had to kick her in the shoulder a few times to block them. 

The way home is more gradual downhill and we trotted about 5 miles straight while I worked on feeling her trot legs and tried to notice why the R diagonal doesn’t feel right. I also worked on a gentle sitting trot to see if I could better follow her movement. 

We got back to the trailer and I gave her big rubs and told her I thought she was doing great. She had fantastic sweat patterns under her pad from the saddle but hardly any sweat on the rest of her body for it being so warm. 

I am not sure what to do about the saddle but since I have a wide tree I will use it for now and see how her back does and how she moves in it. 

I wonder if she’ll have different muscling shape in winter vs. ride and grass season! I hope not! I’ll soon have more value in my tack than my animals… In fact I could already be there 😩

Thursday I had to work so upon stopping at the barn to feed, I haltered both horses and went back over the groundwork we had done since Tuesdsday. 

I saw this and it reminded me that small steps in the right direction are what matters:

Day 3 in a row it’s starting to look good. I noticed that even with the flies now out en force- she was laser focused on me hardly shaking her head or being distracted from either working or thinking. Thursday morning she was completely in tune with me and giving the right answers on the first try. 

Baby steps, but solid ones. It feels good. 


Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

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