Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Disappointment and Progress

Well, my holiday weekend didn't go quite as planned. Sunday was a beautiful day, and I planned to ride out with other people at the barn. I got out there, warmed Halo up, got her tacked up . . . and wimped out.

I was very disappointed in myself. I still rode her up and down the driveway and all around the property, but I couldn't quite bring myself to go back out on the road yet. It was a combination of Halo being a little on the spooky side since I hadn't ridden her in a couple of weeks, and me being nervous that all it would take was one more fall on the cement to do me in.

Still, I felt like crap most of the afternoon, like I failed myself and Halo. Today I feel somewhat better; I know I shouldn't punish myself for listening to my instincts and taking it easy after having an accident. I just don't ever want to be one of those riders who becomes too fearful to do what needs to be done to further the horse's training.

Monday was a little bit better. I didn't plan to ride out, because I didn't know if anyone would even be at the barn. As it turned out, there were a lot of people at the barn - the barn owner was having a kids' camp. The little girls always love Halo, and spoil her to death with treats and petting. Of course they always want to ride her, too, and I get to explain that she's just a baby and not actually trained yet.

Now that's a begging face!

I did ride her on Monday, but once again just around the barn. But since I wasn't hung up on my own inadequacies, we focused on actually doing something productive while wandering over the property. We practiced walking, stopping, backing up, and turning. Halo is getting very good about turning, and I think trail riding has helped that quite a bit. She does occasionally run through one of my legs, but she's starting to understand that pressure from one leg means she needs to move away from the pressure.

The main problem I had yesterday was that she is very responsive to nose pressure from side to side, but not so much straight back. (I'm still riding in a sidepull). She can flex clear around to either of my feet when asked, and she bends well through her turns. However, when I ask her to stop or back up, she tosses her head and is cranky about pressure directly on her nose. What is strange to me about that is that she yields well to nose pressure from the ground, either in the halter or sidepull, so that's not the problem. It has to be something I am doing. So that's something to think about for the next week or so.

I did have one funny moment with her - I was asking her to back up, and she was tossing her head and fussing, and I was beginning to get a little bit perplexed as to why she wouldn't listen. So I decided to start over and use Mugwump's technique of first giving the subtle cue (the one you want the horse to respond to), then escalating to a stronger cue, and then making her do it. Of course when I calmed down and gave the subtle cue, she backed up immediately. Ha! It was a good lesson to me that I don't have to expect her to be oblivious to cues. I should ALWAYS start with the subtle cue, and work from there, especially when something isn't going right.

The only other thing I have to report is that it appears Miss Halo may no longer be pony sized. She's going through another awkward growth phase and looking leggier and less round than a couple of months ago. I taped her at 14.2, maybe a little over that. I can't believe it! She's grown over SIX inches since July 2008.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Yeah, that business of starting with the cue you want to end up with is really important - great progress! To help her out with the backing, you might try doing some of it from the ground, in hand, first until she gets the idea.

Everyone has those days when they don't want to push their limits, and don't worry about that - your horse doesn't - it's OK to take things very slowly and if you push too far beyond your own comfort level your horse will certainly feel it.