Saturday, February 6, 2010

finally, real progress

fuzzy photo, indoors on a cold and cloudy day....rider up is CJ Wagoner

So I found that the trainer at my new barn actually agreed with me that fighting with this horse, hitting, kicking etc was a sure way to stay stuck in the same behavior. So she took a crack at Nina. Started riding 4 days a week, now down to 2, will go to 1 and stay there for a while. She spent almost 2 hours getting half a lap of trot out of Nina the first ride. Usual resistance, threatening to rear (although she has not actually reared since that one confrontation months ago), backing, stuck, violent head shaking etc etc etc. This is the stuff that is intended to intimidate the rider and it does intimidate me, especially since she feels so incredibly explosive. She feels more explosive than she ever acts, but the energy and anger running through her is like getting hit with a club.

I worked through all this at the walk and ended up with a cheerful, forward walk and the beginning of leg yielding and bending. When we started trotting we were back to ground zero and I was just so frustrated. So CJ has been working through it at the trot and now we have a (mainly) cheerful forward trot. Still sticky here and there and lots of resistance to lateral work, but without all the energy and anger. Nina feels more like she is going through the motions of what she knows rather than really wanting to wage all out war.

She is also going through bouts of being very sore over her back, the price you pay for getting in shape for the first time since her early race days. Hot vetrolin towels and polar fleece coolers seem to help a lot. The only real cure is to build muscle to carry the rider.

When I started riding her again after giving CJ a couple of weeks alone with her, Nina felt she needed to test me all over again, refusing even to walk. After that ride I was very discouraged, but apparently I passed the test because the next day she was very cheerful, forward and obedient for me.

Every horse teaches you something new.

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