Saturday, July 7, 2018

Making Plans into Action

First of all, thank you everyone for your kind words. This has been such a difficult time, I have not been able to talk much about her without falling apart. I think it was good for me to write a little bit about my mom and remember those times.
 
In the past two weeks I only saw my horse once, just to hang out and let her eat grass in the yard and shove many treats in her face.

Always happy to see this beautiful face coming to meet me at the gate <3

Before the large break from riding I left off in not such a great place with Shiraz. Her spookiness while riding was really becoming an issue. I had been doing a lot of ground work and we were solid with that--she could be completely relaxed and capable of doing anything I asked in any part of the arena. Unfortunately as soon as I mounted and tried riding simple trot circles, she would spook at all things outside of the arena. Some spooks were simple and easy to ignore and carry on, but others were much more difficult to ride such as her drop back/spin 180 degrees and bolt routine. It is easy to say just ride on like it never happened, but once I tip over into the scared zone, that is difficult for me.


So coming back into riding I decided to find help. I decided to ask the trainer I had sent Shiraz to last year for canter work if she would be able to come over and do some training rides. Luckily she agreed!

The first training ride was last Thursday. She brought her western saddle with her in case things got interesting. I told her about all the issues I was having and what areas of the arena were the biggest issues. She took Shiraz right to the most troublesome spot and began ground work and worked her in circles probably about 50% more intense than I would typically ask for. It was very cool watching her work. The trainer remained calm and soft, and could get Shiraz's full attention and "yes ma'am" reaction without appearing aggressive.

Meet Jose, the cutest Welsh pony that shares Shiraz's paddock. His tiny 4-year-old rider is even cuter :)
Trainer then mounted up and repeated the small circles and figure-eights in the same area. She wasn't doing anything fancy or groundbreaking--just demanding good shape and an active trot. Not once did Shiraz flick an ear to the outside of the arena.

So basically it is not my horse. Its me. (fall on floor crying like a 2-year-old WHYCANTIRIDEBETTER?!?!WAAAA!!!)

But then the good news is, its me. I can fix me. (sigh)

In talking with the trainer, the takeaways were basically demand more from Shiraz and get her attention every step right now. She is young and in that oh-so-fun teenage phase and will be questioning whether she really has to listen. She suggested setting up lots of activities to focus on rather than boring large circles where her mind can easily shut me out. So, lots of poles of random heights and distances, changing up what I am asking for often and demanding better of what ever it is I am working on. For example, if I am asking for bend into a corner and it is not quite what I was looking for, then circle back and make that corner better so Shiraz starts to understand she has to participate fully and kindda bending with a popped out shoulder is not going to cut it.


I came back the next day on my own to ride. I was certainly a lot more messy and obvious in my attempts to keep her attention. Annnddd, there was still some ear action to the outside of the arena (we have a relationship with established sloppiness that will take work and time to change) but I am happy to say I was able to ride her with much more intention and NOT ONE SPOOK. Yaasss!!

Shiraz was so chill after the ride that I had no worries letting my daughter get up for some leading around.


I am going to have trainer back a few more times over the next few weeks and also plan to start back with the Wednesday lesson group for jumping.

I know this year in her training isn't going to be all daisies and roses, but I am feeling cautiously optimistic about liking riding again.

11 comments:

  1. yay for riding and having no spooks! I too get in that zone once I am scared i am scared and can't get it out of my mind! Remus can do that spin and run spook too and once or twice I have ended up on the ground and not sure where he went LOL. So i always assume that is what he will do when he spooks (he really is more of a spook in place kind of horse). SO I get it.

    I think it is great your trainer can come ride her!! And it will only help you feel better about it too. Sounds like progress to me!! And I am very sorry about your mom really sorry. It sucks hugely! I know. Hugs and enjoy your horse time..that is what your mom would want you to do!!

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    1. It was huge for me to see the trainer working her and know what works to keep her on task. And its all simple stuff I can do!

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  2. Ugh I know that teenager-ish “but do I really have to?” feeling all too well. Tho Charlie just gets stuck in the mud instead of spooking. Still tho, no fun! Good for you for getting some timely and effective help tho, and coming up with some strategies that are realistic for you to make happen!!

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    1. I am so thankful this trainer could come work with her. I was kinda heading down the path of "is this horse really for me?" and seeing the trainer getting such good results in one ride has really shut down those negative thoughts.

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  3. Good for you for getting the trainer out. I can attest that sorting this out now will make your life so much easier down the road. And yes, demand more and don't give up and once you get it relax so they figure out what works.

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    1. Yup, I am glad I did. Not only for the work put on Shiraz but for what it did for me confidence wise to see Shiraz being so good and the techniques used to get it.

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  4. Well done getting the trainer out to address things. It sucks to "be the problem" but I definitely find myself sighing relief more often than not when I recognize that the issue is me because of exactly what you state - I can work on me! I've got a mare that requires a confident ride with lots to keep her mind busy, too, or she's 180-spooking and I'm on the ground so I completely empathize with how nerve-rattling that can be to deal with. It sounds like you've nipped it in the bud quick and are onto better things though! That's so awesome and I'm really happy for you.

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    1. I was so relieved to see Shiraz being good so easily. When problems come up, no matter what the issue, it can be easy to imagine all sorts of causes for sure. Having immediate proof that she just needs a more focused ride is certainly great news!

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  5. Smart of you to get the trainer out. Makes it so much easier to make a plan. We're adult ammies, this has to be fun at least most of the time!

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    1. Yup, I was really ready to just stop fumbling and be told what to do. Trainer was super helpful in telling me what to work on until her next training ride and how to ride Shiraz when I feel her getting tense. Having a plan I know can work is so helpful. So far so good!

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  6. Sounds like a great plan. Young horses sometimes need a bit more "structure" and reminders that if they fool around the work is much harder. I'm sure with a little help you will be on the right path quickly.

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