Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Three steps back, One step forward

July seems to be slipping by far too fast. I am disappointed about not entering the July derby even though it was the right decision to hold back and focus on Shiraz's training right now. The good news is training has all gone really well, possibly even better than expected.

My daughter has been asking to come to the barn to ride (!!<3!!:D)
After my trainer ride there has been quite the turn-around in Shiraz. I'm still skeptical going into each ride but again and again I manage to ride in a way that Shiraz interprets as effective (no small miracle! good pony!), and I have moved on to working on real things besides spook management.

The trainer is still scheduled to ride once a week, I am riding most of the other days, plus I have a once-weekly jump lesson with coach B, with a couple of other riders.

It has felt so good to work on details and be absorbed in the flow of it all. Despite the success though, not all rides have been good, and yet others have been phenomenal. I mean, one day I was happy to plod along on my sweet, happy pony doing w/t/c with long flowing strides activated from behind and the next day she was a tight little firecracker that jigged and wiggled the first half hour of the ride.

Honestly I would like lazy, ploddy pony to show up just once to the scheduled jump lesson. My coach doesn't even believe she can be that horse yet 'cause she's never seen it.

On my own I have been working on very low-height grids and lots of ground poles. Whether Shiraz picks up her feet and thinks versus step on all the poles/knock down the jumps is all hit or miss still. She does not seem bothered by whacking into poles or tripping and almost eating dirt. I am not exactly sure how to address this besides continuing to put in the work and rewarding her when she makes good choices. I am seeing a pattern though in her training where she tends to shut off her brain when shown new things, bobble through throwing out wrong answers, hoping the question will just go away. Then a shift where she starts to show obvious signs of thinking first and suddenly gets the exercise and does the thing. I am hoping as she matures this whole tendency to "shutting off" to new things will happen less as her confidence increases.

Rushing jumps is her new thing this week in our jump lesson. It was our first time cantering to verticals with no ground poles and she became far too worried about how to get from A to B. Her solution was just bulldoze through at mach speed and ignore my half halts completely. I am not too worried about it though and know she just does not have enough grid time under her belt with placing poles helping her to see a take-off point.

I thought I was half halting like crazy up to this but...

We will keep on practicing grids and single jumps with the placing poles and the eye/muscle memory for where to take off will come. When I am riding grids on my own I am trying to practice giving her the pace and line, and then leaving her alone so she can think about her feet for herself - not always easy when you are riding a horse that comes into a line of poles making bad choices.

At any rate, I am really happy where we are at. Just this past January I was riding a very green horse that had no concept of anything beyond w/t/sometimes canter/sometimes buck. I am kind of amazed how fast she has come along in such a short time. I have decided to enter Willville Horse Trials in August. As it is an EC sanctioned event, cost will be much higher than our local derbies. It is also about three hours away. I don't trust my older truck for that kind of trek so have found someone who will trailer Shiraz for me. I'm already feeling 'mom guilt' though -- three days away from hubby and kids, spending way too much money on my 'little horse hobby'...It's going to be awesome!


  1. Awesome update! It sounds like you've been working hard and making progress! Exciting about the August horse trials :)

    1. It has been challenging but so worth it to feel like we are moving forward again. :)

  2. aw i love these videos -- even if they kinda give me flashbacks lol. those early days are TOUGH! you guys look great tho and i'm so happy to hear that you're figuring out a riding and training balance that is working so well for you and Shiraz!

    1. We are quite literally fumbling our way through but it is a lot more fun now that I am figuring this silly mare out a bit more! She seems so simple but there is a brain in there that has creative ways of getting out of work. Being less easy on her is really doing wonders for her behavior though (its just hard on me to always be aware, firm and clear!)

  3. Yay for your daughter catching the horse bug :P I can see your hard work paying off in those videos! Well done! I didn't add your new blog address to my reading list correctly so I'm just getting caught up now :)

    1. Yup, I am so excited to see her wanting to ride. She's 8 and has been pretty much meh about horses until now! :)


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