I have finally got a trainable, teachable horse to work with and I am just delighted every day. What follows is a long rambling babble about nothing much, I am just enjoying this new horse a lot.
We have been working a little in the indoor arena. If the current weather is any indication of the winter to come, we are either going to ride indoors are not at all this winter.
Nina has had a big problem with this indoor arena. She has been ridden in two other indoors without a problem, but this one is different.
To start with the other arenas were pole barns, wood, insulated and fairly quiet. This building was never intended to be a barn, it is an old garage building owned long ago by a local dealer for servicing diesel engines and big trucks. It is a metal building with a metal roof and every sound echos around in it and every thing that touches the roof makes noise. Horses seem to either be very bothered by it or not at all, there aren't many in the middle ground. Guess which side Nina is on?
Next, here is how she was introduced to the arena. Standing outside one day getting shoes and a hailstorm blew in suddenly. My farrier, Nina and I all ducked inside to avoid the hail. What would normally have been a five minute Rocky Mountain summer storm turned into an incredibly destructive hail storm that rained down tennis ball size hail, tore through roofs and flattened enormous old trees in a long slow path of destruction.
And we were standing in a metal building with a metal roof. Sort of like being inside a drum at a rock concert. The noise was literally deafening, the building shook with the hail and lightning and thunder, and there was no where else to go. Nina was frantic, kicking at the walls, rearing, screaming. She even managed to kick my farrier (which he forgave her for).
Then, the next time I took her into the indoor we met mayhem inside, probably 15 people in an area smaller than a small dressage ring and of course some people needed to gallop no matter what and others were walking around talking on cell phones with reins draped on the horse's neck.
Surprisingly, Nina did not like this either.
When I tried to take her into the indoor by herself to get used to it, she got worse each time, ricocheting around at the slightest noise. Eventually I gave up.
Fast forward to my new, improved Nina. I rode inside yesterday and today. Yesterday was perfect, there were two quiet horses inside and a lot of activity outside the open doors. Nina was very good, a very small amount of spooking at noises but the new and improved Nina would settle down after a spook and look around to see what was happening. She also seemed to accept MY opinion that we were in a safe place. She walked around, looked at everything and did not once act like a fruit loop.
Today there were also just a couple of other horses, the doors where closed, the wind was blowing so there was more noise and she was perfectly fine. No (over) reacting to every little noise.
One of the big changes in her is that she seems to be looking to me to make decisions. She has, I think, never looked to a rider for anything but a fight. Her safety and her reactions were all hers, based on horse instincts, no other input allowed. Accepting my opinion about things is a new way of paying attention too.
I am enjoying this a lot.
For those of you who are moved to tears of boredom.... I will run up a flag when this phase is over.