Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back On Track

Well, I'm happy to report that my first post-fall ride on Sofie went much better. We free-schooled her in the arena to let her burn off some of her crazy, eventer-wannabe energy, and I took her on the trail to warm her up. She was great on the trail, as usual, and trotted away from home quite happily. The snow was way melted, and there were even a couple puddles on the trail, and exposed grass in the yard.

When I left the trail, I rode her to one of the fairly "neutral zones" in the yard. By then I was giving myself a stomach ache from anxiety, but I asked her to trot and put her on a large circle. At first she was quite resistant, balking when heading away from the barn on the circle. With my mom instructing nearby, I made sure to sit up and have my weight in my heels, and drove her forward with my legs when she balked. It didn't take very much leg pressure (she is quite sensitive), all it took was persistance and not freaking out or going into the fetal position. So we circled for a bit, with me driving her forward and doing loud, slightly growly "HEY!" verbal corrections when she balked. Then she started speeding up on the part of the circle facing the barn, like "You want forward, beyotch? I'LL give you FORWARD!". So I had to half halt on the outside rein, like "Don't you DARE."

After a few minutes of this, she stopped being such a beastie and did her circles and "straight" lines without all that balking-then-speeding-up nonsense. I then walked her to the far end of the yard and trotted her along the "long side", and her trot was really, really nice, and she felt very happy and willing. So we transitioned to a walk, and I walked her to the mounting/dismounting area and got off.

I really felt like I'd been successful, and I could actually recognize that I'd done a good job (that's hard for me sometimes). I hadn't been mean, I hadn't done more than necessary, but I'd been effective. I think if I continue to be effective, Sofie will continue to respond, and our balky/kicking out/speeding up issues will be resolved.

Now it's freakin' COLD out again, so no more riding in the snow for a while, and possibly no riding for a bit, depending on how cold it is in the indoor, and how much the cold affects Sofie's muscles.

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