Tuesday, June 7, 2011

slightly off, but obedient

This is a long, drawn out and boring Thinking Out Loud session about our combined insecurities, mine and Nina's.

I have been dithering around for weeks over Nina and her sore leg.  Any other horse, it would not be a big deal.  Give it time and it will heal.  Do a little calculated riding and help it heal faster.  When Scotty put a divet in a tendon he eventually was turned out for almost a year because stall rest, quiet riding and Scotty did not mix well.  But when he started looking healed I jumped on him in the pasture to see how he felt.  When he went back into work we did a little refresher and went back to work.  No drama.   Typical happy horse with a job he likes.

The progress I have made with Nina is no where near enough to offset all her bad training, bad habits and most of all, her bad attitude.  She was just getting interested in relaxing and learning.  Now she seems to be teetering on the edge of returning to her old ways.  All of the head slinging, foot stomping, foot BITING, threatening to rear has just raised in me a dread that we are back at the beginning and quite honestly I just do not have the time, energy, patience or emotional and mental toughness to convince this horse all over again that I am not going to fight WWIII with her and I do not want to spend EVERY ride discussing it.

Today went a long way toward making me feel better about it.
She looked sound in the round pen, she felt sound when I got on her and walked around.  When I asked for a trot the head starting flying around, she tried to bite my foot and the ears disappeared back into her neck.  We went around for a few minutes going trot trot, bounce bounce bounce, trot trot.
I told her to stop acting like a twit (in the appropriate voice) made sure I was relaxed and allowing her to go forward.  Eventually she gave it up and starting trotting.  I gave her a pat, told her how brilliant she was and she gave a big sigh and relaxed.
When she stretched out into a nice forward working trot I could feel that she was a little off on the RF.  So now I am having a debate with myself.  Stop because the leg is off or continue on and see if she will be obedient?
When I am bringing a horse back from a minor injury I will ride them while they feel sound and stop if they feel off and give them a day off.  The idea is to stress the ligament a little, not damage it.
But I am in this dilemma about Nina's sucked back, I don't wanna, foot biting attitude.
So we went on for a little while.  Trot, walk, halt, trot, halt, trot.  I was getting very nice forward, organized transitions, up and down.  She felt sound in a medium trot, off when I asked for more.
After an excellent trot/halt/trot I hopped off.
I was very happy with her willingness to work even though she obviously didn't feel 100% and her obedience once the fairly short game playing was over.
While I was cold hosing her leg I decided to work my way through a list of behaviors and see how close she actually is to the start of our training and how much I am just yakking about in my mind.

+ She stands pretty quietly to get her tack adjusted right before I get on.
- She used to chomp the bit so loudly it could give you a headache and give me the squinty eye for touching her tack.
+ She has always stood quietly to be mounted (another peculiar behavior since she was furious once you got on - but I digress).
+She walks off on a loose rein, head down and relaxed, takes a few deep breaths and steers by neck reining where ever you want.
- She used to take a considerable amount of prodding to walk off at all, tense, sucked back and I think I have had entire rides where she did not breathe.
+ After a few minutes of whining she trots off if I am relaxed and ask and allow her to, rather than try to coax or order her to.
- There was that day that I spent over 4 hours before she gave up and gave me a trot circle, that day was fun. 
+She leg yields from the leg, the less you touch the rein the better.
She was just learning this when all the stuff hit the fan, perhaps she has been reading books.

So, it sounds like, other than the drama and theatrical dance she wants to do now, she really isn't reverting to her old self at all.  Put it down like this and I wonder how I got there in the first place.
Now I feel better.


  1. Seems like so much of riding is what happens in our heads... or doesn't happen as the case may be ;)

    Glad your ride turned out well!

  2. Glad to hear it. I think you both need a whole bunch of positives and attaboys! ;)

  3. Sometimes it does help to write it all down. I go through feeling like I'm getting nowhere with Jackson and then I look back at my notes from a month or two ago and realize that he is improving after all.

  4. When you're with them day to day I don't think you notice the changes in them. Even if they are little changes it's still a change so that's good right? Some horses just take much longer to come to grips with what you want and longer to give it to you.

  5. I think you are doing as well as anyone could with a super smart TB mare who is not at 100 percent. Glad you are writing it all out as well. Nina is worth it in the end and I wish you nothing but happy progress for awhile. Wouldn't that be nice? :)


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