Statistics, such as my age or years spent riding, don’t really give a good picture of who I really am. I’m in my mid-30s if it matters. I’ve been riding darn near all of them minus a break in high school to pick up competitive whitewater canoeing and then again in medical school.
It wasn’t new to me. Being told I post too darn fast. J used to get on me about that all the time. My time with Gem on the trail is mostly to blame. After that many conditioning and competition miles your muscle memory gets pretty honed in. By the time I retired Gem from endurance I could have told you precisely the mph we were traveling based solely on my posting. 5.5 mph….8 mph….12 mph. Spend that many hours trotting down a trail with a GPS watch attached to your wrist and you can’t help but learn pacing by feel.
When we turned to arena work it was the first issue, of many, that came with me from endurance. We careened around the arena in a very happy, forward 8 mph trot. Both Gem and I felt comfortable and at home. Trainer nearly had a stroke.
Zoom! Trainer J probably telling me to slow down, post lower, and lower my hands.
Slow your posting.
Feel like you are almost walking.
I heard those words dozens of times in every single ride.
When I chose H’Appy he came with a nice slow trot. He meandered around the arena. I felt like we weren’t going anywhere and my internal GPS was screaming “this is too slow! We are only going 3 mph!!!”
Trainer loved it. I lamented that we weren’t going anywhere. She responded that there was no where to go. It was a 20 m circle after all. What was the rush?
Poking along last summer
Over the months that I rode him I noticed that I was nagging him in the trot. He would be trotting along merrily and there I was asking for more, more, more.
Now he gives me more.
A lot more.
Good boy gave me what I wanted.
Now I don’t want it any longer.
During my latest lesson, C kept telling me to slow down. Post lower. Post heavier. Post slower. And when I did, he would relax, breathe and slow down. He never once broke to the canter.
I knew the issue was me. Fixing him would be easier. Fixing me…well that’s hard work. I can afford horse boot camp. I can’t afford a rider boot camp.
So that is my #1 homework while I figure out what lessons will work out for me. Slowing my body down. Stop asking for slow with my hands and fast with my body. That’s confusing. I imagine he feels as frustrated with me as I was with C and that is not how I want my horse to feel. No wonder he gets anxious and tense. Poor guy got stuck with me as his rider. Sorry buddy. We will figure it out though. I’m committed to that.
It’s probably safe to wager that every single blogger out there has at least one post about trailer loading.
Being stranded with a stubborn donkey is never fun.
It was pouring when I snapped this. He didn’t seem to mind. I did.
I had spent Thursday evening working on trailer loading in anticipation of hauling to the lesson Friday. By the time we finished he was on and off no issue. Friday morning he loaded right up at home again no issue.
Yet there I found myself, confidence a bit shaky, in a torrential downpour with my horse refusing to get on the trailer. It was embarrassing. I almost left him on consignment.
Of course it wasn’t entirely his fault. The rain probably felt wonderful on his lathered skin after that lesson, a giant puddle had formed right at the base of the ramp and some dumbass had parked the trailer in such a way that he had to walk through a tree to load straight. Ahem.
Why my Hooman so dumb tho?
Still though. Flashbacks to being stranded at a trail head with Gem for 2 hours were running through my head.
As soon as the rain stopped, C came over to help and with her at front and me behind he leaped over the puddle and on the trailer the first try.
I’m very good at making mistakes. I hate making them twice.
Saturday I wanted him to have off figuring he’d be pretty sore after the lesson but the trailer was still hooked up so right before dinner I worked on self loading.
My go to set up is as below and it worked wonders for getting Gem to load. She never got to self loading status but I also never tried. I was happy she even got on it.
Connect two longe lines and run them around the divider so both ends come out the rear. That way you can have forward pressure and still drive from behind.
The first time I led him on to show him it was the same as the past two days and he walked straight on. Good boy.
Then I hooked up the longe and grabbed my dressage whip. The only thing I dislike about this set up is that he can still swing to the near side of the trailer but I figured that was his problem and he could figure out how to load on an angle if he was going to be stupid about it.
It took about 15 minutes before he was on and off like this with me standing outside the trailer.
Success! One rather large Appy butt in the trailer
I gave him a long grazing break and then hooked up the regular lead line and worked on him getting on with that.
The first time he tried to bulldoze through me which earned him a good smack with the whip on his shoulder. He didn’t try that again.
Maybe 5 minutes later and he was a self loading machine. I took him in for dinner, grabbed the other two, groomed everyone and then on the way back to the pasture we worked on it again.
Some angry grazing occurred during rest periods
He had retained it well and was getting on all by his lovely self with a few clucks from me. His best feature is how well he retains things. Hopefully this will prevent future issues with loading.
A big shout out to my Hubby who listened to my tirade Friday afternoon and talked me off the ledge.
You know what really gets me? Right before the lesson started I was feeling so so so proud of H’Appy. He was being such a big boy and was really looking to me for guidance which is a brand new thing for him. I’ve been working really hard on the ground to instill that and when we arrived at a brand new place it all came out and I couldn’t have been happier.
Don’t worry buddy. I’m mildly terrified too
To go from that to…I don’t even know what best describes it….defeated, angry, frustrated….is a real shame because guys he was such a Big Boy to begin with.
I’m not even sure what all to go into. I had sent a text to C Thursday after work confirming our lesson for 130 the next day. She asked if we could move it up to 11 and that was fine by me. We texted a while back and forth and then finished it with “see you tomorrow”. A prior text even said the date: March 15th.
I arrived at 1015 to have plenty of time to get my bearings and walk him around and work on ground stuff if needed. I sent her a text when I got there asking which arena we would be using. She asked why I was there because we had agreed on Saturday. I quickly looked back at all my texts and nope. Clear as day said Friday the 15th. She wasn’t around and said she would be late and also had to do office stuff before we could begin. What? Apparently this isn’t uncommon as the barn staff shrugged and said that’s just her.
Someone was randomly walking a pig on a leash. Of course I sent this to Michelle for Remus! H’Appy didn’t care at all
I took the time to walk him around the grounds and he was amazing. He never called out. He never pulled or balked. He walked calmly beside me sniffing all the arenas and footing. I even took him into the indoor to walk around as well.
Eventually I got on around 1045 to warm up. He was a bit amped and distracted and it took a few walk halt transitions to reinstall the breaks but after only 5 minutes he was relaxed and swinging freely. I even trotted and while the first few transitions saw a lot of head flinging sass he quickly got to work no fuss.
The place is gorgeous with stunning views in every direction. There is a dedicated grass dressage court as well
And then we waited. And waited. And waited. It was close to 1130 before she showed up and by that point he was done even though I had even gotten off and chilled for a solid 15 minutes.
We spoke briefly and then got to work and that’s when things went downhill.
The covered arena was magical. He was a bit weirded out that he could sorta see over the half ways but not fully
I do wonder if he recalls his old lesson horse days because I swear as soon as someone enters the arena and stands to give directions he immediately tenses and gets pissy. He is always worse during a lesson than when I’m alone. I’d blame me but by the time we got started I was way past being nervous and into being annoyed and rather bored. There was no tension left in me at all.
So anyway we got started and it wasn’t pretty but he settled and we did a nice figure 8 around two jumps. She then added two ground poles on one diagonal on a curve and two on the other half of the 8 straight and had us working over those too. He had moments of tension and moments of glory and overall it was actually going pretty good work wise and I was enjoying the exercise. Some things she told me were in direct opposition to what I had been told by J in the past (J wanted the outside rein steady around the circle and to soften the inside a lot whereas C told me to loosen the outside and hold the inside) but I was being open minded and willing to learn.
He was checking in with me a lot to make sure he was ok and after a simple pay and telling him he was a good boy he would get back to it
From there we moved to four trot poles straight down the short side in the middle of a circle of jumps and he must have recalled the ride earlier in the week because he was good through that exercise too.
We finished with some pretty craptastic canter work to call it a day.
And while all that sounds really great, the nitty gritty of it was anything but. You see, I was trying my best to do everything she was telling me to do yet every time I would do it I would get yelled at.
My birthday is next month. Think I could ask for one of these?
She told me that I let him hang on my hands too much. I needed to lower them (yes I very much do need to stop raising them to the ceiling) and if he started leaning I was to throw the contact away and let him deal.
We went around the circle and he started pulling hard and trying to take over. I softened and threw away the contact to let him deal.
And then I got yelled at because I wasn’t using a very strong half halt and I was like but you told me not to and she said I needed to.
The outdoor jump ring was nice too and with lights
I was going through the straight four trot poles and then turned right. I went around the jumps and did it again. I turned right again. She told me that I was being too repetitive and needed to switch it up.
Next time I turned left.
She criticized me telling me I’m too haphazard and have no plan and that I do things too different each time. I was always going right so why change and go left all of a sudden?
Um…because you told me to?
The barn entrance off the jump arena. Such a gorgeous place
And it kept going like that. I’d try to do exactly what she said, sometimes a lot more effectively than others, and then she’d yell at me for doing it. It was all very frustrating.
The other thing that really confused me was right at the start. She got on me and told me I’m too annoying talking to him all the time. I need to be quiet. Now J always told me I was too quiet and to talk to Gem more and H’Appy thrives on near constant praise. I told her that but she said I basically needed to shut up.
And the cross country filed across the drive
Being open minded, I did. Each time he would do something super well I’d bite my tongue and watch as he grew anxious. He did the right thing but there was no reward and when I’d ask again he got angry until by the end he was flipping me the bird.
But if I tried to praise, I got yelled at.
I’ve been mostly good all year. Can’t I please have one?
At the very end she told me he was too fat (he is but he is losing it steadily) and needed to be in work 7 days a week and oh by the way she has a spot open for full training if I wanted to leave him and begin right away.
He almost got left behind when he adamantly refused to load back up and it started to absolutely down pour. It took over a half and hour and I was so embarrassed.
Oh, Eeyore. You are teaching me all sorts of things that I never realized I needed to learn.
Gemmie never really sweated that much. Part of it was due to her desert breeding but mostly it was due to her insane innate athleticism. I don’t think I ever pushed her anywhere near her max even during the 100 we did.
Someone refused to leave her stall to return to the lush spring grass. This was the look I got when I tried to pull her away from her hay. I think I know where she told me to shove that idea.
Eeyore sweats when it gets above 50 and he even thinks about working. He sweats when he eats. Apparently that is strenuous activity. Where I could work Gem on a 20 mile technical and fast conditioning ride in August pushing 100F with only a slight shimmer of sweat, a simple walk warm up at 60 degrees and the poor guy is lathered.
He gets natural electrolytes in his grazing plus what is included in his ration balancer and has free access to a mineral block and clean cold water all day. He chomps the block on the regular and is great at tanking up on water.
Blissing out on his mineral block
I’m not really concerned about dehydration for him but darn is he a sweaty mess constantly.
What I am concerned about is if I need to be adding my home made elytes on the daily in summer or perhaps maybe use syringes after a ride? I’m not sure because I barely rode him last summer though when I did he seemed fine. Riding a beast that has white lather everywhere at the walk is new to me and I’m not quite sure if it is something I need to stress over or not. He has a really thin hair coat and even over the winter he barely grew in a winter one. He still got sweaty. I think he has his own persona fire burning from within to keep him warm. I’m not sure a clip would do much good plus I don’t need him to get sun burned. I already have to sun tan lotion up his man bits and nose daily.
I’m also a bit concerned about my tack and…gasp…might have to splurge on a few more saddle pads to avoid nasty salt encrusted pads. He sweats that much even now when it is 65 with a cool breeze and no humidity. I shudder to think what he will be like in the heat of summer. I’m thinking I’ll also need to clean my tack a lot more often.
Did you just brush me within an inch of my life to make me pretty for Friday? I can help with that!
So my question for you all….if you have a super sweaty beast filled with the internal fire of Hades, how do you manage it? Do you do more than clean water and a mineral block? Syringe elytes after a ride? Add them to the feed daily in the summer? Any tips for getting the salt out of pads and off leather goods? I’m already missing my perfectly clean, dry Princess of a mare.
Nooooo! Of course it was 68F so he sweated while eating and now all this dirt is deeply embedded mud. I didn’t even ride him. All he did was come inside the breezy, open barn and weat and then work on some ground stuff before going back out. Sigh.
Sunday I had set up three trot poles on the other side of an empty standard. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that this would pose an issue for my big huggable Doofaloosa. I mean, he jumps just fine. Trot poles should be remedial work for him.
The jump standard blew his mind. He leaped through it as though there was an invisible fence set up and that set the tone for the trot poles after it.
It took a while but he did eventually get it and I moved on not really thinking much of the exercise or his reaction to it.
I left the single pole after the standard and then moved the other to set up two trot poles on the diagonal creating a bending line
Last night I set up the above exercise. My main goal by moving two of them to the diagonal was to hopefully mitigate some of his tension about the imaginary fence. Plus I liked the idea of having a bending line for me to work on my precision steering.
I was caught a bit off guard when his reaction was nearly the same regardless.
Walking over them was no big deal. Well, no big deal the second time. The first time he threw his head around, tried to grab the bit and run off but a very strong half halt and voice command kept him to the walk.
She tells lies!
Once I asked him to trot though. Well. Let’s just say homeboy got extremely angry at the world in general and those poles in specific.
Turns out he does not like not knowing the answer. He doesn’t like to have to think. He likes knowing. His larger than life ego needs to have everything under control and know he is an awesome super star.
When I asked him to trot the poles and he really had zero clue how to do so, he threw a fit. Then he tried to barrel through them at approximately 100mph, clobbering each of them making them scatter. When that didn’t work, he flipped me the bird and just avoided the entire exercise by careening off and refusing to go anywhere near them.
The look of defeat
I laughed at him. He really was doing everything he could except trot nicely over them and it was really pissing him off.
I broke it down for him and just did the single pole on the long side. We walked over it. He got praised. We walked the other way over it and halted between the standards. He got praised.
I could visibly see his ego start to swell and so we tackled the two diagonal poles the same way. Walk. Praise. Walk. Praise.
Waggy introduced Einstein to the fun of ground poles.
Once he stopped caring about that I added the trot back in a few strides away from the poles going left over the two diagonal poles and then bending to the single and through the standard.
It took a lot of half halts and holding with my body coupled with more praise then I’ve given in 36 years total, but he trotted through that exercise like a big boy.
And then I made a near fatal mistake.
Once he was through the standard at a nice, calm trot I leaned forward, patted him and celebrated his very existence.
All good things.
Except he took this as party time, leaped into the air with a squeal of delight and took off on his own victory gallop like he had just won the Olympics.
It took a long time to settle him back down and at that point I called it a night. Part of me really wanted to go over it again and this time avoid the celebration but it seemed better to let him stop while feeling on top of the world versus drilling it and risking him getting it wrong.
The view out the barn doors
He is slowly teaching me what he needs to succeed. He does not like being wrong. He does not like not knowing. He does not like it when he faces the reality that he isn’t the second coming of Christ. He needs his ego stroked and he needs to feel like he is King.
Starting small and working up will be my best friend and I am getting even more excited about Friday!
I was asked why I would choose eventing and the question stuck in my head long enough to percolate into a post. I understood where she was coming from: I have limited resources mostly in time and trainer access so why decide to pick up a sport that typically requires two or three different trainers, tack sets and a whole lot of time. Its a good question especially in light of the fact that I made the change from endurance: a sport known for its lack of trainers, minimal gear and a learn as you go attitude.
The empty standards blew his poor brain out his ears. He kept expecting a jump and would leap through them. I laughed an awful lot last night while riding him.
Endurance wore thin on me. I had reached my goals with Gem and the people I met at ride camp were pretty darn awful. Perhaps it was just my neck of the woods and the people I ran across as there are plenty of bloggers who do endurance and speak highly of all their interactions with others, but in my region they sorta, kinda really suck. At my last ride, I watched people move other’s corrals when they went out on trail to give themselves more room, my own stuff was picked up and thrown across the road in the crew area when a lady wanted to make room for 5 horses and my stuff (which had been there for 24 hours prior to her showing up) was deemed in the way (this nearly resulted in a fist fight and they returned my stuff back to its original setting as I watched with flames shooting out of my eyes), I had a friend’s brand new heart rate monitor grow legs and never be seen again, and I won’t even get into the debacle of the lady who decided to squeeze her rig into a half spot beside me and then declare that she did not like my tent and I should move it. Guess how well that went over. I will say that once out on trail, things always improved and I found nothing but the nicest people for the most part.
By the time I finished that ride, I was done dealing with petty, high school cliques and drama. I had a brief love affair with Ride and Tie as those people are the best group of people on the planet, but talk about time commitment to get both the horse in endurance shape and myself in ultra running shape. And you need a partner. Once Wyatt is old enough to safely stay in camp while Dusty and I are out on trail, we will be returning to this sport that I love so so so much.
Setting up the above exercise was difficult once one very happy pup joined me int he arena and mistook them for very large sticks to play with.
So I found myself at a cross roads. The lure of endurance was gone. Wyatt was old enough that he cared when I was gone for 8 hours on a conditioning ride and I found that the challenge, with Gem anyway, was taken out of the equation making those long hours alone on the trail not so compelling any more. I needed a change of pace that would fit into my life better.
Arena riding was the solution especially once the horses would be moving home. While I could no longer justify to myself or Wyatt the need to be gone on a weekend day for 5-8 hours riding, I could justify a quick spin on the horse in my own back yard. But what to do while in the arena? Toodling isn’t my style. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I do need something to focus on or I lose interest. Western was out of the question solely because it doesn’t interest me. Looking at the english disciplines I had dressage, jumping and eventing came to mind. It happened that during this transition period I was boarding at a private farm with an eventer. She gave me a few early lessons on Gem and I really liked the idea of mixing things up: doing dressage one ride, stadium another, and throwing in some cross country schooling here and there as well. The trail always will be my home and what I love best about it is that it is always changing. Sure you are still going down a trail, but the scenery changes, the topography changes and the terrain dictates a lot of the challenge. With eventing, it seemed as though I could capture that sense of wonder and change while still being in my own back yard.
She is getting a lot more playful these days as her legs continues to improve
And so I began my journey down the path of figuring out eventing. The more I got into it, the more I liked it. Sure, my current goal is to survive an amoeba level event and I highly doubt I will ever go beyond BN, if I even get brave enough to get that far, but thats something I absolutely adore about eventing and something that is lacking in endurance these days. There is no, or at least not in my area, looking down on someone or saying “you are only doing sticks on the ground that isn’t real eventing” as I hear so very very frequently in endurance when people say “that is only a 25 mile ride that isn’t real endurance” Next time I see or hear someone say that I will punch them in the throat. There is room in eventing for everyone it seems. Starting with me being happy to get through a w/t test and over 18″ sticks at basically a walk all the way up to those competing internationally at the highest levels. Perhaps in other parts of the country this isn’t the case as I am sure in other parts of the country endurance is one big happy family, but around here it is eventing heaven. Between Tryon and Aiken as well as local events, there is a show nearly every weekend all year round. The season never ends, though there is a shortage of events in the heat of summer.
I kept waiting for her to pick one up and carry it off, but she didn’t
I chose eventing not to become popular, hit the upper echelon, or smoke it around a prelim level course. I chose it based out of access, atmosphere, and curiosity and I plan to stick with it at my own wimpy adult ammy level. Who knows? Maybe H’Appy will give me wings and I’ll find myself moving beyond my current dreams and goals or I’ll be that 65 year old woman forever at starter. It really seems to me that nobody cares and everyone will cheer regardless. I agree that eventing can require 6 days a week to train, three different trainers and tack sets, and a lot of money to hit up all those recognized events. But eventing can also look a lot like an adult ammy squeezing in a ride as the sun goes down behind her barn, working sporadically with a trainer, and walking over 18″ fences on her way to becoming the amoeba champion of the southeast.
My last day working with H’Appy was Sunday when I made a whole lot of small changes that had a big impact. My intention was to check back in with him early in the week, but you all know how the best of intentions go.
Monday I canceled my afternoon and left early due to Wyatt throwing up everywhere. And when I say everywhere I mean everywhere: the floor in his classroom, my car, the side of the road, the line at Walmart trying to buy him ginger ale, my office, the kitchen floor. EVERYWHERE. So I left work and ended up snuggling on the couch all night with my favorite blonde haired boy.
Sick kiddo always wants to sleep on my pillow in my bed. Its a wonder I haven’t died yet.
Tuesday I was exhausted. Wyatt had been up until 2 am and I go to bed by 9 pm. This nearly 40 year old doesn’t do all nighters. Heck, the 20 year old version of me didn’t do all nighters. Dusty took off work to stay home with him Tuesday and by the time I dragged my butt home from work, I changed into pjs and crashed. I’m crazy like that.
Wednesday night I had a work dinner meeting which meant I didn’t have time to ride, but i did have time to bring the horses in for dinner. At first I was a bit worried when H’Appy was no where to be seen. The other two were nickering at me to go inside, because knee high green grass isn’t filling enough apparently, and typically H’Appy can be found trying to bulldoze his way between them and generally being a pest. But Wednesday night, i got both Gem and Pete inside and still no sign of H’Appy.
Old horses make my heart melt. Someday I’m going to have a small retirement farm
Eventually he came sauntering over to the gate with a dazed and confused look on his face and disheveled hair up his right side. The big orange man apparently fell asleep int he afternoon sunshine and the Dynamic Duo left him for the predators so they could come inside and eat the handful of ration balancer they get. Great herd mates.
Here’s the thing.
I slipped his halter on his head and gave him a pat. He swung his snake like neck around and tried to bite my hip. He got smacked with the end of the lead rope and then I thought “hmmm…lets see if Sunday stuck at all.”
Huh? where am I?
I asked him to walk on in a mini 6 ft longe circle with the lead rope and you know what? Big Boy walked on calmly with an ear cocked to me and licking his lips. I then asked him to halt and he did spot on right away. I asked him to walk on again and he did without trying to trot, or throwing his head around in a big tantrum.
Huh. I let him halt and gave him a pat as he lowered his head and chewed. We walked out of the pasture to the barn, where his friends were out of sight and which would typically cause some rushing and bullying on his part. I walked about 5 steps from the pasture gate and then stopped. He stopped, no tension on the lead rope. I took a couple steps back without touching the lead and without using my voice. He also took couple steps back. When I stopped, he stopped. When I walked, he did to.
I stared at him.
For all the grief I give him, he is actually really, really book smart. He has ZERO common sense, street smarts, but that is due to his upbringing being treated like a big dog instead of a horse. Give him a job and ask him to learn something and it sinks in a stays there.
Shedding season is upon us
I need to get smarter. Fast. This horse is teaching me the very definition of a horse that needs a job. When he has one, he is great. When he doesn’t, he will find something to occupy him and it will 100% not be something I like.
And to that end….
I HAVE A LESSON SCHEDULED WITH SOMEONE I AM SUPER EXCITED ABOUT ON 3/15!!!!!!!
Sunday morning I changed my riding routine with net positive results. Of course, I changed so many variables that there is no saying exactly what led to it but I think it is safe to assume it all added up to a lovely, if still highly flawed ride.
Change #1: No rushing
Riding is typically a rushed affair. When I see a spare hour before I have to get dinner going, or need to leave to get Wyatt or head off to the grocery store, I sneak in a ride. Not a terrible thing as it leads to riding but it also leads to a rush job to get in the saddle and a hurried atmosphere.
Sunday I had all the time in the world. I slowed way down. Gave a lot of praise. Gave even more scratches. This all led to a horse in the cross ties that was yawning big, gave a massive front leg/bow down stretch and had a hind leg propped up by the time I threw the saddle on his back.
Change #2: Ground work for the win
He was still not feeling too focused when I walked him out of the barn and to the arena. Instead of thinking “I’ll work you on the longe” and surviving the trek to the arena, I stopped in the pasture and made him back his rushing orange butt up.
The boys had a lot of fun at the fishing pond while I worked with H’Appy
He didn’t like this and tried to pop up instead. He got backed even more. Once he was backing I praised and halted then moved forward. He rushed. I stopped him and backed him. He blew forward. I decided to move his feet and do a mini longe with the lead rope.
Once he was calm he got to halt. If he tried to call for his friends, he got put back to work on the tiny circle at a walk. Once he was licking and chewing and no longer caring where his friends were, we entered the arena.
Change #3: Putting his brain to work more than his feet
I did still longe him a bit but he didn’t need much and was very good and tuned in to my voice and body. Once I got on him though he felt like a powder keg under me.
So I stopped and thought “How did I used to handle Gem when she was like this?”
Camouflage horse is the same color as the red clay we have around here. I also need to figure out what to do with his crazy mane.
Lateral work. When Gem used to get all up her own stuff, I’d find stuff to do to work her brain more than her feet.
I halted H’Appy and decided to see if he knew lateral work at all. I held steady and lightly pushed him over with my right leg. He went back. I told him nope and asked again. He went forward. We worked a little while until he gave me a baby step sideways at which point I praised and let him go forward as a reward.
He may be a Doofus, but he is my Doofus and I’m keeping him
Then I halted him again and tried again. His brain was working at top speed. He got a little pissy when he couldn’t figure out the right answer, but you know what he didn’t do? Give a rats behind where his friends were.
After he gave me the beginnings of the right answer, I moved on and circled back around to it if he started to get a little quick or distracted. It worked really well.
Change #4: Talking to myself
Once I moved to the trot, I decided that maybe it was time to work on that 20m circle again more so to focus on myself than him. I find that when I work around the arena at large, even with a specific plan in my head, I tend to have a whole lot of wiggle room so that if he isn’t precisely where I was thinking, but close enough I don’t really care. This is wrong.
A 20 m circle is a 20 m circle, not an oval, not a square and not 15 m once around and then 30 the next. It gives me a very specific focal point that I hold true to. Or at least try to.
I put him on the path and began around but instead of getting frustrated with him or myself I started talking out loud:
Release the inside rein
Hold the outside rein steady
Turn my entire body inside
Look 1/4 turn ahead on the circle
He always slows down here to look out the hole in the fence get ready before that and squeeze gently
And it worked! The more I acted like my own trainer on the ground, the better I rode. And the better I rode the more relaxed he became. By the end he was giving me a wonderfully rhythmic and steady trot and had bend around the circle which in turn gave him better balance and a better ability to do what I was asking.
Find the Berner! Waggy now has feeling below the ankle and is able to wear a new type of brace to walk properly. She is getting more outside time and loving it
I have no idea how long we worked but once he gave me a few rounds I praised him to within an inch of his life and slid off very proud of him.
Of course the moment I slid off he screamed for his friends, but hey at least he was quiet the entire time I worked him.
Overall it was really good. Not hoof perfect but we didn’t fight each other, I made a plan and kept my brain engaged and managed to work him through his own issues without it escalating. All big wins for team Doofaloosa!
Three horses inside the arena. On the opposite side of the property from where they were put the night before
Ok…that’s interesting, but how?
Damn shoes gave him away. Dusty went on to add “ Your Dumbaloosa needs to learn how to be a real horse”
Let me back up a bit and explain this.
Saturday afternoon we finally tackled the back pasture. Currently the right half is included in the large pasture that runs along the barn, arena and up the driveway. The left side is the smallest on the property and has been used as our sacrifice pasture with all the rain since it has a shelter and a lot of trees.
The left side lasts about 3 weeks with all 3 horses before it is eaten down past my comfort level. The right side never gets used because it is attached to the largest pasture and the horses never see a need to wander down and around to it. So I mow it a lot in the summer and then mow it some more
I wanted to remove the cross fencing and block off the access to the large pasture to make this all one back pasture that could house the horses for 4-6 weeks allowing the other two a longer break during pasture rotation.
Dusty worked to close off the bottom by the pond as well as the opening to the larger pasture while I took down the cross fencing and the horses ate dinner inside the barn.
Man was Saturday a gorgeous day to be alive in SC
We didn’t have time to pull the t posts but I figured our horses are sensible beasts and wouldn’t kill themselves overnight on t posts.
I was partially correct.
This folks is why I will never use high tensile wire. Ever. Damage was done to the fence without a scratch on my now loveably termed Doofaloosa
Best we can figure Doofaloosa went galloping about in glee at his large enclosure and remembered from last summer that this pasture opened into the large one. For some reason all the knee high green grass under his hooves wasn’t good enough and off he went.
Except the opening was no longer open.
Pete was really not sure about crossing through t posts. He is a GOOD BOY and good boys don’t go through fences. He eventually got it
The hoof print shows that he tried to stop but the ground is so saturated he slid instead and barreled through the newly strung fence.
This is also why I love having my entire property safely fenced in. Even when something dumb happens, there is no where for them to go.
Since they weren’t out in that pasture, I had been leaving the arena gate open. It’s old. It’s rusty. It’s half off the hinges and a royal PITA to open and close. Why on earth they decided that all the green grass in the now 15 acre pasture was not good enough and they needed to be inside the mostly dirt arena is beyond my reasoning.
Uh…thanks for helping with my arena maintenance issues?
But there they were bright and early Sunday morning looking for breakfast.
In the words of Dusty “He isn’t bad enough to get rid of but damn is he annoying.”
Yup. Just about sums up my lovable, huggable Doofaloosa.
Keep being you buddy.
Pete trying to pretend he was being a GOOD BOY by not entering the arena while still being in a pasture he wasn’t supposed to be in.