Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Teenage Day

Izzy's at that stage where she's starting to figure out what to do, but she isn't sure she really wants to do it. I know that pretty much all horses go through this, so I'm not worried, but it is kind of frustrating. Ten days ago, we could walk, trot, and canter both directions. We were starting baby leg yields, and had turn on the forehand down pretty well. She got a little stuck once in a while, but nothing to be concerned about.

Then came the rearing incident, the ensuing rest and saddle checks, and then the major head-throwing /spook incident.

So now with all that behind us, I went out today. I knew that we wouldn't get much canter work in, because I'm still building up confidence again. I did a lot of work with Izzy on the lunge, doing transitions up and down. She's getting pretty responsive, and only picked up the incorrect lead once. I don't get after her for that. Right now it's more important that she canters when I ask her to than that she always has the lead I want. When I felt that she was relaxed and listening to me, we stopped. I adjusted her saddle a little bit to make sure it didn't slide forward. Then, as usual, we walked all around the arena to look at scary stuff. She wasn't particularly worried about anything, which was nice.

She stood quietly to be mounted. I've been careful to give her a loose rein when I mount; I'd rather she walk forward and make me circle her back than that she feels trapped and thinks rearing is a way out. Not that she was trapped last time she tried that. I don't know. Anyways, we did quite well doing our walk/halt/walk transitions, then walk/trot/walk. She was still fairly responsive and listening. Rather than having her ears locked on outside stimuli, she held them with one forward, one back. I was thrilled.

Then I took her down to the non-scary end of the arena to see if we could do one canter before we quit. Here's where the problem cropped up. She decided not to go forward. Her biggest evasion is to get behind my leg and back out of things. I'm not as quick at catching this as I should be and she's determined enough in doing it that we have to do a lot of work in this area. So, instead of cantering, we worked on walking. I tried to be mindful of why she was backing out. It wasn't related to bending a certain way (which could be related to saddle problems) or going at a certain gait. There was just one 30 foot stretch that she decided not to walk forward in.

Because the problem was locational, I did the same thing we did with trot poles a few days ago. I let it be ok for her to walk through that area. I didn't try to force her to trot. We just walked and walked and walked. When she tried to stop, I would squeeze with my legs, keep my weight behind the motion, and not let her back out. If we stood, that was ok, but we couldn't go backwards. After about five minutes of this, she could walk through there. Then I would trot her up to the point where she seemed to get sticky, walk through that, and trot again. When she seemed comfortable, we tried trotting through. It worked the first time, and I got off and took her saddle off once we where out of the sticky spot.

She's just one of those horses that doesn't respond well to being pushed. She needs to figure it out on her own.

In other news, I still hurt a lot from Sunday, but it's mostly muscle soreness from rafting, I think. I've self-diagnosed the head hit as a concussion of a minor degree. I read the Mayo clinic website about it, and I don't need to see a doctor unless something gets worse. That's reassuring, because I really loathe going to the doctor.


  1. Take care of yourself - concussions can have long-lasting effects - get plenty of rest. I like your gradual approach to the scary/difficult places - it almost always isn't worth it to get in a fight with the horse - much better to "creep up on" the problem and keep the feet moving and the horse working.

  2. I agree with Kate. I like what you did with her. I have ben taking Sam out along the road to warm up lately because he really hates going into the riding area. He doesn't want to work. Out on the road we get to a point where he also finds behind my leg. I have found that if I make him do something to keep those feet moving, small figures of eight, just walking back the way we came and then turning around back towards the scary part, figure of eight, always changing what I would like but making sure he is relaxed and moving those feet. Before we know it we are right in the thick of the scary part! Then we head back home on a loose rein!


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