Wednesday, February 16, 2011

yay! connection!

More about that in a minute.  First I want to address Nina's bad behavior lately.  I realized yesterday when war broke out that I have been letting things slide.  Now some of you might think this was lazy on my part but I am claiming dark afternoons and cold weather.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Here is how it has gone.  Nina prances around before I take off the lead rope to lunge her and I make her stand still - sort  of - inconsistently - IF I am not too cold - or in a hurry.
Nina tosses her head while I am putting the bridle on and I struggle to fasten it telling myself that as soon as it is above zero we are going to have a nice long lesson in standing STILL.
Nina pulls on the lead rope while we are walking and I correct her but at the same time I walk faster.
In other words I let things slide and while this might not be a big deal with some horses and might take a few corrections with others... with Nina this is a blatant invitation to throw down the gauntlet.
Nina has had YEARS of pushing people around, fighting with people, shoving and pushing to get her way or to make them stop doing whatever they were doing.  I think a lot of it was self defense so it is hard to blame her, but the end result is a horse that will make doe eyes at you one minute and be just charmingly well behaved and deliberately run over top of you the next.
Nina is well behaved with me (mostly) because I am very fair, very consistent and totally willing to take all the time it takes to win any battle she wants to pick.  Until the last few weeks when I slacked off and started treating her like a normal horse with a history of good behavior, where if you occasionally do something wrong it doesn't result in total rebellion.  WRONG!
So today when she started prancing around in the round pen, we left the round pen and went for a walk and we did that every time until she stood still, STILL and waited to be told to move off.
When she acted like a jerk over the bridle we did the same thing, went for a walk (I had fastened the halter around her neck) and she flipped her head around and bashed herself in the face with the loose straps of the bridle.  We went back to the area where I tack her up and tried again, and again and again until she stood quietly.  Walking her around seems to defuse her, it at least breaks through her declared line in the sand and distracts her from her battle plans.

So now the yay! connection! part....When I eventually got on her we had a good ride.  AND got a good connection on the right bend from inside leg to outside rein, most of a circle, several times.  This is very difficult for her, it is her stiff side and on the right rein she reverts to kick-to-go and pull-to-whoa, I think because it is her stiff side and it is harder for her she tends to tune me out as just being annoying.  She got this on a bend to the left a while ago.
YAY!  Moments like this with her are fun, generally once she gets it, that's it, it's like the light bulb turned on.


  1. Ha! This may be weird, but it sounds like when I worked with "behavior problem" children (that's what they called them way back when). You had to be soooo consistent. Any deviation was an invite for bucking the rules panic. Even though they knew I really cared about them and was fair and we had a lot of fun--some of them have a real problem with the fear of the unknown. They really need consistency or they feel like unwinding thread or that something bad is going to happen.

    Your post made me smile. :)

  2. Your patience is really admirable.

  3. Dom, when this horse stops worrying and resisting and puts her energy into working - she is magic!
    She has an incredible stride, she floats along without seeming to touch the ground and she jumps like a top hunter. It is worth it. And it's a challenge. ;-)

  4. When I start working with a pony (I do retraining of kids ponies), when I go to the barn I don't even plan to ride...I just start the process and then work on every problem until it is fixed. If they are good, I ride. It is sooo hard to do that without losing my patience, especially if it feels I am not getting anywhere. It is awesome that you are having such success with her, when you next have a lesson, take a video! I would love to see her again.

  5. When you get that connection and you get a taste of how great it's going to be in the future, it's wonderful. Congrats on a good ride.

  6. WOOO looks like someone got a little more respect! I see this all the time with the babies. They act up in the stable they will act up when being ridden! Its amazing when your very consistent how much a horse improves! First thing my horses learn is to step back when I enter the stable and they don't grab hay at feeding time (pet peeve). Most horses just want guidance as whats wrong and whats right! Love when you notice improvement drives me even more for perfection!


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