Saturday, June 27, 2009

a good test

Today was a good landmark. Every time that I have had to skip even one day it has been a setback. The setbacks have gotten smaller and smaller but still, two steps forward and one step back.
This week I did not ride Nina at all. Work, doctor's appointments for my mother, rained out big time one day...could have drowned! They all conspired to keep me off the horse.

Today I lunged her for a few minutes, got on and finally got the feeling that she would walk all day if I wanted her to. No time clock at 2 minutes, or 5 minutes or 10 minutes.

Didn't trot, a hard rain yesterday left the ground super slippery. I know the battles aren't over yet and I prefer dry ground and better traction.

Just happy with what I got today.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

pocket pony

A year ago Nina was spooking and running from me at the least unexpected movement on my part. Today I was standing in her run talking to a friend, hold a bucket about half full of water and sort of swinging it back and forth. Nina came over, grabbed the bucket, stuck her head in, drank it dry, dribbled a little water on me and sniffed at my jeans pocket and cocked a foot and listened to the conversation.
I don't think I intimidate her anymore.
I did suggest to her that there is a range of behavior between loco and obnoxious pocket pony...she declined to comment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I think we have done as much as we can at the walk. She alternates a nice big stride, head nodding, relaxed...with a tight stuck stride, very light in the front end, ears pinned. Seems to be random. She will move sideways to light leg pressure, strong leg gets her stuck, but ANY leg got a bad reaction a week ago. She totally forgot herself and showed me that she neck reins yesterday.
I would like to just walk her until she feels like she would just walk forever, but I think we would both die of boredom or old age before that happens.
Time to start mixing it up and work on some walk/trot transitions.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

break through

Breathing....breathing is always good. Nina has been holding her breath, breathing very shallowly. Big breaths today, blowing down her nose, BIG sighs. First voluntary release of tension. All good signs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

and again...

Same thing again. This is getting boring and I am so excited about it. She almost forgot to try pissy today. Going to start extending the walking by about a minute a day, add a little trot when possible. See what happens.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nina, with and without rider.

Nina was quite tense today, walking stiff legged, but the good news is that she kept it together and was fine. A week ago she would have just wound herself up, today she did what she was told in spite of not being relaxed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

big step forward....

So I got on Nina on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday due to circumstances beyond my control she got the day off. Today I was not anxious to get back on. I just didn't have the energy to deal with a stuck horse. But, sometimes you just have to.
She was the best she has been so far. Walked out, totally relaxed, turned both ways. Stopped and started and walked out again, head nodding for the very first time. I'm still waiting for her to breathe but one thing at a time.
She got a little stuck once, thought about rearing, I over corrected but she was the adult and after a pissy head shake she did not over react to my over reacting and we carried on.
She even offered a little trot, but she also dropped her shoulder and got light in the rear and I decided that on the buckle was not the best way to do this, so I just said a quiet 'whoa' and she went back to walk.
Positively horselike.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A day off is a step back

Yesterday Nina got the day off, today was a step back. But not as much as the last time she got a day off so I guess that's progress.
As soon as I got on her today she offered to stand up. I was more than a little irritated and gave her more of a jerk to the side than I intended. Didn't do much for her attitude but she did put some weight in her feet. Very pissy today, resisting everything I asked and then giving in. Just testing I suppose.
Overall it is still steady progress.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

good day 2

Walking, walking like a thoroughbred with a big long stride. This is the first time I have felt different from a quarter horse. A little bit of balking, not much. She got stuck for a few seconds and was pissy, but then walking again. Figure 8s, turns, walking, even moved sideways off of my leg for a step....ok, that was probably an accident, but she didn't react to my leg by going up.
Very very happy with today.

Friday, June 5, 2009

a good day...

No rearing. Some head shaking and nasty faces and ears pinned, but no rearing. And she actually walked out like she was going somewhere. When the round pen dries out a little I will see if I can push her into a trot.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

this may work....

I have been very hesitant about confronting Nina about the bad behavior....absolutely chicken in fact. I told myself it was because there is no way to just kick her forward like you do with a horse that has had some training. Actually, I admitted to myself, it is because I have had this little doubt in the back of my mind that she might really be nuts and would throw herself over backwards to win the fight. In my opinion, horses that deliberately go over backwards are nuts and should be shot before they kill someone. Rearing is just one step away.

So today, as soon as I got on she reared a little. I was ready for it and just grabbed mane with one hand and pulled her head around with the other, pulling her off balance. This was the make or break moment...give in and get trained or fight beyond all reason.
She slammed her feet back down on the ground triple fast. They didn't stay there because she was PISSED, but I pulled her around the other direction the next time and she stopped to think about this and walked around in a circle each way with feet on the ground. As soon as she walked both ways I got off.

I think I can do this all day long....hopefully she will give in rather than escalate. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

more rain

If we had ocean instead of mountains to the west, I would swear I was in Seattle. Mild temps and rain and rain and rain.
I went ahead a worked with Nina, in the rain, in the flooded round pen. She was ok being tacked up. In fact considering that she has not been saddled in several days, she was fabulous. Only minor face making.
After spending some time with my friend Reed's horse, Shiver, who gnashes his teeth and pins his ears back a lot...all a big show...I am beginning to think she is not such a big deal. I am just used to a couple of horses who would drag you to the jumps but were puppy dogs on the ground.

Anyway, just a few minutes of lunging with one side rein each way, no fighting, fussing or appearance of being uncomfortable. I thought about getting on but somehow I was sure she would toss me into the deepest, nastiest puddle.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

rain rain go away

And now it has been raining for about 24 hours and the round pens are knee deep in water.
It's not that I mind working horses in the rain, but I don't like getting bucked off in the water.
On the other hand she is still cheerful today, no tongue chewing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

starting again

I had to work late today, so I only turned Nina out and did not ride, but I am glad I did because it gave me a chance to watch her and I think another light bulb turned on. This one is just flickering.
When I got Nina she chewed her tongue...a lot. And stuck it out whenever she was trotting/cantering. With some horses this is just a little OCD behavior, but with some it is an indication of pain. When I treated her for ulcers some of this went away, teeth done...ditto, chiro...ditto. Lately she has been very easy to handle, wants to be petted and is not hanging her tongue out.
Last week, starting the day she reared while I was riding, she has been hanging her tongue out again. She also has been very aloof and does not want to be petted or touched.
She has a knot of tissue in her neck that has steadily reduced since I got her, but vets have said that it is indication of a serious injury probably a long time ago. She is very stiff through the neck, also improving, and sometimes moves as if she has a stiff neck. I assume that her neck hurts at least some of the time and the side reins I have been riding her with are both to discourage her from rearing and to keep me from pulling her neck around too far.
Yesterday I wiped some DMSO on her neck, which I have been using off and on to help reduce the swelling.
Today she was cheerful, wanted to be petted and did not hang her tongue out at all while running around the turnout.
I think I need to pay attention to this and not get on her when she is exhibiting this behavior....instead spend my time locating the source of the pain and doing what I can for it.
This might be another step to getting her confidence while being ridden.
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