Friday, January 24, 2014

A Reiner In My Barn- Abby Rides 5-9

I am going to try to keep track of my rides here so... best as I can recall...

Monday was a sick day. I have been having a terrible time with sinus issues, headaches and stuffed up/sensitive ears. It was killing me to miss another day of sunshine. In my part of the country, if you get a sunny day you ride- come hell or high water- you ride. But my man had other ideas. I told him, "Your not the boss of me!" but he kinda is... so I stayed home. Sometimes I have to fake not sick just so I can go to the barn without getting in trouble:)

Tuesday evening I headed down to the barn determined to suck it up but also keep it short, easy and sweet. Abby had other plans....

After twenty minutes of grooming I saddled both Abby and Hola and took them for a walk in hand down the road and a ways down the trail. It was a quiet evening and the trail was open and clear and well, both of them are so relaxed and confident....I couldn't help but hear Abby's saddle call my name again. I knew that I shouldn't get on, after all she only has a few rides and I was by myself... but I couldn't help it. I got on. And I ponied Hola down the trail for just five minutes or so. And then I got off and walked home. I was kicking my own ass telling myself how stupid that was but I guess I'm just a rebel without a cause. Marm and I did a quick loop through the hay field to cap off the day.

On Wednesday I saddled Abby and tied her to the wall for a while. I then saddled Hola and, (for the first time) I put on and tightened up the back cinch. And then I watched the rodeo. I really didn't expect her to blow up. She has been worked in a saddle (on the lounge)  no less than twenty times. I have used a rope to simulate the cinch all up and down her belly and loin a hundred times but when I pushed her up to a trot on the lounge and she felt that saddle flop and that back cinch against her belly, oh boy, she just went hee-haw-ing around the arena like a bronc. I was so surprised and unprepared that I actually lost ahold of the line and so she did a few circuits of the arena before I caught her and pulled her to a stop. I worked her for another ten minutes at least until her back leveled out but she didn't relax in to it as she has with everything else to date. She is usually so calm it is easy to forget that horse can move! I then got on Abby in the arena. I just guided her around a little and then unsaddled both and took them for a good 45 minute walk in hand.

On Thursday my head was still heavy but I was determined to get them all worked. I took Abby on the lower trail with L and Ella. L wanted to get Ella worked and so left us after about ten minutes to go for long trot. I had Abby in hand and while she didn't get worked up about Ella leaving us she certainly had her attention fixed on the trail ahead and little to no attention on me. So I gave her lots of little tasks to work on and eventually she started to think maybe she shouldn't worry so much about Ella and maybe she should worry a little more about what I was asking of her. I thought I had her mind so I decided to get on and see if her attention stuck with me. Nope. She walked forward before I was in the saddle, ears fixed straight ahead and quickly broke in to a jog. I pulled her around both ways and set her back to "waaaaalk". No dice. For the next few minutes we argued about it before I decided to just get off and really set her to work for me. About that time L and Ella came back up the trail headed for home. I told her to just ride on past me and keep going. Abby and I continued to "chat" and eventually I really felt like she came back to me so I got on again. We rode home, about ten minutes, and she stayed with me. I was thrilled to have worked our way through that one but knew I had really failed to set her up for success... she is so good I have to remember how little time she has out and under saddle. Having a horse leave us on the trail, twice, was not a good idea but I guess all is well that ends well.

At the end of that ride I did make a note to self that on every ride so far, when asked to stop, Abby has become really restless feeling. She stops well...but the minute she has to just stand I can feel her tension building. She has pawed a few times and will take a step or two to either side. I have left alone for now but thought I should work on it soon.

Back at the barn I saddled Hola and did up the back strap again. She had that backwards look in her eye but went out on the lounge without any silly business... for the first few minutes. She was jogging nicely so I asked for an extended trot and threw the line out at her. She jumped just a little and that saddle flopped just a little... well, she went broncy again but this time for no more than a thirty seconds. She settled back down and flattened out eventually (she was humped up like a rabbit). Man, she sure doesn't like that back cinch. I'm a bit evil when I find out that my horses don't like something- suddenly that something becomes a part of their daily lives. I finished the day by riding Marm in the English saddle for the first time. On Wednesday she seemed to be pin her ears a little when I cinched up so I thought a change of saddle was worth a try.  She seemed to like it but I had loose pants and short boots on which, as it turns out, is not a comfortable combination in an English saddle and so I did little that day but walk the hay field.

And now today, Friday- my sinus infection has become a full blown cold. I'm miserable and so this time was able to keep it short and sweet. I tied both mares to the wall for twenty minutes while riding Marm in the English again. It is to early to call it a success but she felt better under that saddle, looser in her top line and more willing to stretch out. Aaaand this time I had on tight (tight) pants and tall boots. Much more comfortable! I tacked both Abs and Hola. I left the back cinch undone on Hola while she stayed tied as I rode her Momma in the arena. My goal on Abby was to get on and sit there for a few minutes. As I noted the day before, on every ride so far I have asked her to move out just as soon as I have sat down in attempt to help her relax (move her feet). Today I followed my gut and decided to see what would happen if I got on and asked her stand. I had to circle her back to where we started a few times and back her up twice before she really clicked with the idea that I was asking her to stand... and then I waited to see what would happen...

What happened was I felt that restlessness rise up in her again. I took a deep breath, relaxed my stomach and seat and sat deep. She stilled. But in a keen way... I realized that she was poised and listening. I felt her whole being just tuned right in to my seat. She was waiting for my cue and that restlessness I felt, that was her locked and loaded and ready to get to work. I shifted my weight in to my inside stirrup, took my hand across her wither and closed my outside leg. She dropped on one hock and spun a hole in the ground. Just like that. Damn, that mare is just pure gold.

So what I learned today was that my plan needs revised. I wanted to get her fit on the trail before asking her to work in the arena. But the whole point of leaving her unridden for all the years she was broodmare was to make sure that the last rides she would recall were the ones wherein she was being asked to do reining maneuvers by her reining trainer. That plan paid off. She still has her training... I knew that but what I didn't factor was that in her mind she is still a reiner... not just a horse with reining buttons. A reiner's job is to stay in tune with it's rider at all times and to wait, poised and at-the-ready for that next cue. Abs remembers the maneuvers but she also remembers her JOB which is to pay attention at all times. In that first video of me riding Abs you hear L comment that she has "all ears on me"... I thought that was because she was like "what the hell are you doing up there?!?" I think I was wrong. I think from that first ride she remembered her job. And that is so freaking cool. I have a reiner my barn. Fancy that. *huge smile*

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