Thursday, October 20, 2011

feeling better...

This is just a vent about my frustration with Nina - long and rambling. 

I have been so discouraged about Nina.  She was off for so long and then for a couple of weeks she would be fine for 2 days and off for one and repeat.  She has been sound all week this time.

And she has reverted to one of her original resistances, sticking her head between her knees and bracing against the bit.  This was her first big resistance, OK second, I guess rearing trumps rooting.
I just get so tired of feeling like working with her is one step forward and two steps back, every once in a while I get to reverse that.

So I did a little thinking about what is going on.  Some of it is between my ears.  I tend to walk on eggshells when riding her because doing that worked when she was so mixed up and defensive.
Well, she is not mixed up and defensive much any more, I think asshat is a closer description.
So I decided that I might be better off treating her like a naughty two year old under saddle instead of an old wily duck-and-run expert.  That is the part that is hers, she has never learned the basics about being a riding horse and she has resisted learning this stuff all her life.

I decided to try to fix the rooting in the round pen.  I thought I had fixed it under saddle and she had not done it for a long time, but she is still a pro at it.
I took a nylon cord, put a snap at each end ran it from the bit through my grab strap and to the bit.  I made the length long enough that when she carried her head normally there was no tension, but it was too short to stick her head between her knees.  I put this on her two days ago and she fought it for almost two hours.  Not a big hysterical fight, just slow, calculating, using all her strength to pull the damn thing down to the ground.  I had her walk a little and trot a little but mostly I just ignored her and she walked around rooting and shoving, trying to surprise it, trying to force it, trying to paw at it, only rarely picking her head up and relaxing.
This was more than a little discouraging.  When she appeared to have given up I removed the cord and got on, she immediately dropped her head to the ground and stuck it there.  I got off, put the cord back on and another hour passed before she was walking around in a horse shape.

It did occur to me that 'submission to the bridle' was just not in her vocabulary, never has been and until we can agree on that - there is no progress.  No wonder we have been on a roller coaster.  We are at square one.  Only not the square one that I had thought we were at - no ------ way back before that one.
Yesterday she had off.  Today I did it again and in five minutes she was trotting around, carrying herself normally, NO rooting or pulling.  (She doesn't know it but giving in for one day is not success, she is going to spend a lot of time wearing this.)

I got on her, she rooting ONCE about 15 minutes into the ride, I grabbed one rein and hung on and after spinning around a minute she gave up.  No more rooting.

Then she was a tree, unable to move - we have been doing this too.  When I make her move she is spooky and crooked and so uneven that it is like a dingy in a high sea.  If I think about this too much it gets to be intimidating.
So I put on my big girl panties, told myself that I was at a competition and did I want to be the idiot on the bad horse?
I booted her into a joggy, crooked trot and from there into a more forward trot and from there into an actual trot.  She spooked and ran sideways at the poles that we had already trotted over and I growled at her that I was going to kill her and kicked like a six year old on a bad Shetland pony and suddenly I had a nice horse under me, forward, balanced and unbelievably, relaxed.
I worked her for a little while, walked over the the gate, stopped and then just to push a little more - went back to work.  She was fine.

I had a horse when I was 20 that fought me like the devil for the first 10 minutes of every ride and bucked me off a hundred times.  Next to him Nina is a pansy.  I need to make up my mind that she is going to be difficult for the first 10-20 minutes of EVERY ride and just kick her through it and get on with it.  Just because she doesn't act this way for a few days doesn't mean that she is fixed and going to be good from now on.

She trusts me absolutely on the ground and it is because I make her toe the line and I am a good leader and boss.  I have not been consistent about doing the same under saddle.  I think my whiney little voice wants an easier horse to ride.  But this is the one I have.

I feel better about this today, not so much tempted to quit and more sure that I can push her through this juvenile crap and get to where we are doing stuff that even she thinks is fun.
Vent over.


  1. Good grief, you must have been exhausted after that session! I was pooped just reading it! :-) I think setting your expectations that she is probably going to be a challenge for the first 10 minutes will help. Yep, it will be frustrating for a while, but when it clicks and everything works, it's going to be so sweeeet.....:-) Good luck!

  2. Sounds like a good plan. Just expect it every time. If she's good it is a treat, but expect her to be a shit next time. One of these days she might surprise you and give up, but I wouldn't bet on it--LOL! Your battles are probably the high point of her day. But, like you said, if you can push through and then have some really good work time for a while...Miss Obstinate might find the good work time looking more fun. She's smart. Sounds like she might need challenges and new things to keep that brain occupied when she's working well. Good luck!! :):)

  3. I have left an award for you on my blog. :)

  4. I am building a list of horse related blogs that I will be publishing on my website in a day or two. I am hoping that if horse people could find each others' blogs easier, they would read and comment on each others' blogs more often. Just wanted to let you know I was including Nina's story in my list. Have a great day!


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