Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Long winded update post! Wheeeee!

I've been a bad blogger lately, so I must now write what will undoubtedly turn out to be an incredibly long winded summary of all my latest dealings with the Sofa, despite my best intentions to be succinct. And I have no pictures yet, either, so anyone who actually reads all this to the shall earn my vast appreciation!

6/10 - Sofie was quite good even after being ridden for the better part of an hour the day before. I rode out in the yard and she was good about leaving the barn and doing what I said. Towards the end, I attempted to work on turns on the forehand, which had gone sooooo well the night before, but the Sofa doesn't really understand why she should bother halting and turning in a stationary way out in the yard. The yard is for fun, and going fast! Well, at least walking around in a forward way. Anyway, I got a few decent turns from her, but after that, she decided that she was not into stopping, because I was just going to make her do weird little stationary turns, which she was SO OVER. So I had to get her to halt so I could quit for the day, and I got a little too picky, wanting a straight halt, not a crooked one, and this and that, blah blah blah. Which eventually made Sofie pretty pissed off, so much so that she voluntarily trotted away from the barn. So I was upset with myself, but it really wasn't a distaster or anything, and I got over it.

6/12 - Was too tired to ride after trying (unsuccessfully, until the last fifteen minutes) to sell things at the farmers market, so I just free schooled Sofie. She was moving great, and even took her typically unused right lead much of the time. She became rather nervous and herdbound afterward, as one of the stupid geldings was galloping around like a maniac because his owner was playing with her other horse, not him. So getting her to stand for foot-cleaning was a bit of a challenge, but I did get her feet cleaned.

6/13 - Went out in the evening to ride in the Big Field. Found the horses already in. The Big Field was a bit slick from all the rain, but I went slowly and in straight lines for the most part. Sofie chose to canter along one fenceline, and was a little peeved at me for having contact on the outside rein to keep her straight, but she needs to have contact sometimes. I dismounted after maybe fifteen minutes, since there were lots of distractions going on and the surface would not have been forgiving if she had done something stupid. Evil Trainer was back in the arena, working a horse, so I took Sofie back in there and enjoyed her abrupt transformation into Perfect Dressage Horse as Evil Trainer cranked her client's horse's head in and drove her forward with a heavy driving seat and leg.

6/15 - My horse was insane. I shall elaborate. She was fine at first. I brought her in and free schooled her, after which I had to leave her in the arena while I brought out my riding stuff. When I got back in the arena, the mares decided that it was the PERFECT time to race around and jump and buck. They. Went. Nuts. And Sofie spazzed out because she could HEAR the fun they were having, but she was TRAPPED in the arena, and could not get to them. So I stood back and let her spazz, and when the mares quit racing around, I caught Sofie and took her to the aisle to get her ready to ride. And she would not stand. I mean, seriously. Would. Not. Stand. She was completely taut with tension, head up, neck locked and loaded. I had to keep backing her when she tried to walk forward, and she kept shaking her head at me, but I started brushing her to try and calm her down. Not happening. She had just lost her mind completely. She was so insane, she actually squirted pee in the aisle, which she never does.

So I wound up taking her back to the arena and free schooling her AGAIN, until she calmed down and started to drop her head. Then I took her back to the aisle, and she was still tense and distracted, but way better, and after shutting all the doors, I dropped her lead rope and was able to pick out her feet, which was a HUGE win that day. I had planned to just try to get her feet picked out and then call it a day, but a nagging voice in my head pointed out that if I ever want to take Fireball to a show or clinic in the distant future, I sure as hell better be able to deal with her on her insane days. And I went, "'re right." So I decided to ride her, just to prove to myself that I could do it. She was obnoxious as I tacked her up, shaking her head at me every two seconds. I took her to the indoor, thinking "I don't care if I only ride for five minutes at a walk, I am NOT pushing her today. This could end badly, for sure."

She was a little weird as I walked her around, and I debated whether or not I should move up to a trot. But I wound up doing it, and she was really quite good. We had some falling-in obnoxiousness and one little "incident" where she swung her hindquarters to one side and made a nasty face as I trotted through a corner, but she did not kill me, which, frankly, was pretty miraculous considering the day she was having. And afterward, she was much calmer, so I think it did help. And the most important thing was that I didn't just give up and throw her back outside, I worked through it with no one to hold my hand or talk me through everything, and I rode. Go me.

6/16 - Sofie was much better, but still a little weird at times. She was stiff in her right hock (perhaps because I had to free school her TWICE the previous day?) and not in the greatest mood. I was nervous about taking her outside because I'd been riding a lot in the arena due to weather (and insanity) the last few times, and I didn't quite trust her because...well, did I mention insanity? But she was bored with the indoor, so I took her outside and we both had fun. I didn't do a whole lot in the yard, but she listened to me and wasn't beastly. I took her on the trail, and she seemed happy to be going on a trail ride. We hadn't gotten far when I saw two wild turkeys ducking under the gelding fence, heading onto the trail. I tensed up, because I hate turkeys, and I also imagined Sofie freaking out, deciding to run for home, and then getting mad at me for "holding her back" and crow-hopping. Yeah, great use of visualization, no? But fortunately nothing happened. Sofie raised her head, then continued down the trail, like "Oh, that's alarming - no, wait, don't care." Further down the trail we had to deal with a water hazard, but Sofie always finds the least wet place to walk through. On the way back, we saw a mother turkey with a little baby that was quite alarmed to see Sofie coming and flew off into the woods.

6/18 - Got to the barn at 10 AM to try and avoid the worst of the heat. Sofie seemed happy to see me. She stopped eating grass when she saw me coming, and even walked up to me as I got closer to her. This made me very happy, although it also made me nervous because a couple of the worst rides we've ever had have occured on days she walked up to me. She was very calm as we groomed her (just like she was that one day last winter, until I started riding her and she was all "Yaaaaay! Let's gallop! Let's kick out 'cause Meghan's holding me back! Oh SNAP, what is she doing on the ground in front of me?!"), so I had my mom longe her out in the yard. She was quite good, taking the right lead a couple times and not freaking out when she stepped over the longeline while trying to eat grass, creating a weird pulley rein type thing.

She was super lazy in the indoor, so I decided to try riding without stirrups during the warmup. I used to do no-stirrup work frequently, but then I got my stupid treeless saddle that was slippery and impossible to ride in, and I lost confidence in my ability to ride without stirrups. But the Wintec is very supportive, and the Sofa is very smooth, so I got used to it again fairly quickly. I even did some trotting, and was able to sit the trot just as well as I can with stirrups. So I think I will try to do some work without stirrups each ride, at least in the indoor.

Sofa was bored with the indoor, so we went outside. It was hot and the bugs weren't great, but we were happy to be outside. We went down the trail and threw in some trot work. The puddle was dried up, and the turkeys were elsewhere, but we did see a deer bounding into the woods. Sofie tensed up, but didn't attempt to bail. It was really nice and cool in the woods, and we did more trotting on the way back.

After we got back to the yard I trotted her away from the barn, and she was drifty but felt much straighter than she has been. I then walked her back to the barn and thought of riding her back into the indoor, but then decided to trot her down the gelding fenceline instead. She wanted to turn and canter back to the barn, but I kept her straight all the way down the fenceline. She started revving up as we approached The Place Where We Like To Canter, and I half-halted, not wanting her to get too crazy. Then I softened the reins, sat the trot and let her canter. She cantered quite forward, but I enjoyed it, and given a light rein and encouraged to keep going, she soon came back to a trot (this approach is much more effective than going "OH SNAP PLEASE DON'T GO TOO FAST"). I then halted her and got off, and she got a bath and the opportunity to eat some grass before going back out with her friends.

So overall, everything's pretty frickin' great in Sofieland. I'll try to be more prompt with my posting, and also maybe write some more interesting posts in the near future.


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  2. I liked reading this post! It sounds like you're handling Sofie's crazy days just fine. You just gotta ride through them, and you'll begin to figure out what makes her tick or freak and in turn you'll learn how to handle them and ride through them. With Greta I just have to keep my aids consistent, and if she counterflexes trying to sneak a peek at something super-scary outside the arena I just give her a little nudge with my inside leg (or opposite if we're schooling in one of the pastures) and it usually brings her attention back, but I'm still figuring things out. It's a all learning process. Isn't it fun??