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 :)|
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.