Saturday, May 30, 2009

BIG step back

So it turns out that my friend who was helping me has this project very low on her to-do list and does not show up. Nina got worked one day this week so we are pretty much back to square one. When she gets worked everyday she makes progress, but she is so used to bullying people and getting put away for months at a time that a couple of days off and she is geared up to fight again.
So even though I think the carrots was a really good idea, she would have to have been weaned off of them sooner or later so I guess we are going to do it without the carrots.
I was really bitterly disappointed when I was blown off again this week and about to just pack it in and quit. But I realized that she doesn't have me scared any more and I am just going to have to do this by myself. It may take longer, but I can do it and I can do it everyday without waiting for someone else.
Since we are back to square one with her attitude, might as well start over. So Monday we will start with mounting and dismounting, this time without the treats.
We will get it done.
I was helping a couple of riders today at a 3Day Event and wishing I was riding.....'Nina could do this' I found myself thinking....yes....if we can learn to walk first.

two steps forward, one step back

Nina finally showed her old colors and tried a little rearing. It wasn't much, fairly half hearted but still disappointing that she had to try it. I was expecting it and hoping not to see this behavior at the same time.
On the good side she did manage to get her brain working again and walk forward quietly after.
I suspect we are in for a rough patch and she will be testing to see if she can get me to fight with her. My job will be to get her thinking about working without feeding into her temper tantrum.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

time to get on

The few times I got on Nina last fall she planted her feet, gnashed her teeth, pinned her ears and refused to move an any direction...totally stuck.
When other people have gotten on her she has reared, higher each time...then refused to move.
Almost a one-trick pony.

So I spent a day just getting on and off, many times. She was fine with that.
Then I had a friend with a handful of carrots entice her to move a few steps while I just sat on her like a sack. That involved pinned ears, but otherwise it was ok.

Then we started moving the bar up a tiny bit each day.
Walk on verbal command.
Move my legs around on her.
Eat carrots.
Move legs more.
Turn around with big plow rein and walk the OTHER direction.
Walk away from the carrot machine...this was was tough and involved some tail wringing and a half hearted attempt to rear.
Repeat all above.

Other than some dramatic gesturing with the head and neck...this has been progress. Her body is fairly relaxed, off and on, and if I ignore the dramatic face is mine.

This tiny bit of progress is the absolute most cooperation I have seen out of her since the day I got her. My friend with the carrots convinced me that Nina has come to trust me and at this point if she is going to let anyone ride her, it is going to be me. I think she is right. Nina is responding to voice, not just commands but also some growls when she starts to wind herself up.
Baby steps.

turning....what's that?

I found an English hackamore, replaced the curb chain with a strap, covered the noseband with sheepskin and tried that on Nina. That seemed to be perfectly comfortable no matter which way it moved or was tugged on, so at least I had something that I could ride in.

So I set a date and school began. I did a little lunging with her tacked up and very loose sidereins added. All was well. Then I did some lunging with only one very loose siderein, mostly to see if the hackamore had any influence when only one rein was used. This was an elastic siderein, adjusted so that it asked her to move her nose just a hair off of center, not any stress or pulling.
She went ballistic, bucked and ran and reared and tried to wipe the hackamore off with her front legs. I realized that I had never tried pulling on one rein at a time before, so after her temper tantrum was over I tried it by hand and got nearly as violent a reaction, combined with trying to get away from me.
So, not counting any damage done to her mouth, I think I had found the first place that someone had taught her to fight.

But amazingly, with a week of ground work, asking her to relax and give her head with sidereins and by hand, she figured out that it was not an attack, quit fighting and began to offer movement with ears up, waiting to be told that she was brilliant!

Monday, May 25, 2009

a step back...

As I try to plan how to retrain this mare myself I look for where her training stopped and I can't find the place where she knows how to do ANYTHING.
When I got her she didn't lead, tie, stand, pick up her feet, let you groom her....nothing.
Lunging was advanced work.
She does all those things now, and now I am trying to find where somebody did something...anything...right about riding her so I can figure out what she knows.
She knows how to buck, bolt, run backwards and rear...all the bad stuff.

I was playing around with a bit in her mouth a few days ago. She has gotten far enough along that she was standing with a foot cocked and half asleep while I played with the bit. Suddenly she squealed and stood straight up! When she landed she was wide awake and giving me a wide eye. I tried again, no response and then suddenly the same one. Three times and she landed with her ears pinned at me and I decided that I was positive enough that the bit had caused it.
So I had the vet who did her teeth back out to see if he missed something, a bad tooth that didn't look bad etc. Poked and prodded and found nothing. Suggested that considering her history, perhaps she had some nerve damage to the bars of her mouth.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nina, May 09 video

Nina, May 09 pics

Training 101, stand tied to be tacked up

WWIII broke out over being tacked up. The first day was dangerous, the second also. The third day was exciting, the next less so and by the end of a week she was standing fairly quietly, she cribs when you fasten the girth, no matter how loose it starts, and then later doesn't mind when you tighten it, so this is a learned behavior, but as long as she isn't trying to crib on my arm, it's ok with me.

May 2009

I had told myself all along that if her teeth were terrible I would try her again myself before spending the money on professional training. Her teeth were terrible, so, what the heck....I am going to give it a shot.

April 2009

So now that I have a plan, everything falls apart. I have been giving lessons and that money was supposed to pay for Nina's training. I lost 3 students in one month. One had surgery, one moved away and one got thrown out of the barn. It was a big income loss and now I can't afford to send her for training.
I am so frustrated with all this. I am ready to find a cheap place to retire her and find another horse to ride. I don't know what to do, but I don't want to keep a horse as a pet, I want a horse to ride. Very frustrating. Maybe something will work out.....

March 2009

I finally get Nina's teeth done, and as expected they were awful. The vet asked if she was terrible in a bridle. Hopefully this will help some with her issues.
And I got the chiropractor out twice to work on her, the first time she needed a lot of adjusting, the second time not so much.
The first time was sort of like having a velociraptor on the end of a rope, I swear she puffed herself up to about 19 hands and all that teeth clacking was more than a little unnerving. Since my last horse LOVED the chiro I was a little put off, but the vet just said that a lot of them are like that the first time. I think I would find another line of work if a LOT of them act that way.
It was exciting.
The trainer and I have decided that mid April would be a good time to send Nina up to him, that would put her back here around the end of May...perfect.

January, February 2009

So we are mostly just waiting out the winter. We are having a fairly mild winter, Nina is gaining weight, but her behavior has leveled off, no progress. She is still spooky, even with me, and the few times that I tack her up to lunge she is willing to go to war over every bit of it.
I have checked out the trainer and I am very impressed. He is very low key and confident and doesn't believe in fighting with a horse. So just waiting for spring.
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