Last weekend was Mane Event (horse expo). I was able to watch almost all of the Sandy Collier clinics (awesome!) but only a little bit of the colt starting challenge which was disappointing because Dale Clearwater had a long record of winning these type challenges and I really wanted to see him in action. I also had a friend riding in the Dee Butterfield barrel racing clinic and wanted to watch her and on top of that another friend was looking for a saddle and so I missed most of the day Sunday helping her try a saddle. All in all I found Mane Event as inspiring as ever and I was really keen to get back to work on Hola on Monday (her fetlock is all healed up).
So Monday afternoon I tacked Hola and decided to put some trust in her and not give her a work before getting on. I really wanted to know how she was going to react to being ridden again after a week off. I thought that if I got on her and she felt squiggly I would just get off and lunge her out. I also decided to go ahead and throw a snaffle in her mouth. I've asked her to pack a snaffle a handful of times before but never under saddle. I started by asking her from the ground to give both ways. Unfortunately, the right rein snagged up on the breast collar attachment and she had gotten her face bumped really hard when I released that side. I was really choked that I had let something like that happen, you only get one chance to get it done right the first time and she was really worried on that side after that painful bump. I decided to work on it once in the saddle so that I could make sure that rein didn't get snagged again. I stepped up on her and she stood quietly. I asked her to walk off and she walked off quietly. I asked her to guide to the left and she went. But then I asked for the right and her feet got stuck and she braced up. Dammit! So I went to work on her having give her face to the right and stuck with it until she relaxed. I thought that I had only been on her for five minutes but in fact that was our longest ride to date (ten minutes! lol) Aaaaand, I got on her in the gravel paddock! (up until now I have avoided it as it is the hardest place on the farm to land). I was really happy that she was really relaxed about walking out. It was a good ride but...
I still worry about whether I'm going to slow. Every time I get on her I have an objective that is slightly different than the time before and she is progressing... so I cant be totally off track, but I have 13 rides on her (most less than five minutes long) and we are at the same place that most people get in one ride. I have all the time in the world but I also want to challenge Hola and I know that my biggest fault to date has been not instilling in her a desire to work and she thinks her life is pretty damn easy. She really can get a pissy attitude about things and I just hate that.... but if I get after even a little bit that "Yes, Ma'am" attitude is right there, I just have to demand that she be better and then stay consistent about it and I have to start challenging her more.
On Tuesday I had a friend come with me to the barn. It was raining hard and there was a real bite in the air so we had brought some tea with us and planned on having a little visit in the barn after saying hi to the horses. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work with Hola and so tacked her up, put the snaffle in her mouth, tied off the reins loose and parked her in the barn isle. The goal was for her to stand patiently while I visited. Ha! She was happy to stand quietly... she just wanted to be sucked up to my side, not standing eight feet away. We sat for a good half hour and I kept just getting up and putting her back to where I left her. Because she has had so much time tied to the wall I expected her to give up and go to sleep but she didn't, she insisted on being right there in the middle our conversation. What can I say, she is social butterfly. She was all tacked up and I had my friends eyes there for safety so I had to get on if for only a minute. The rain was stinging cold, the wind was up and there was water all over the paddock. Not a recipe for success. I stepped on her and she stood but when I walked her out I could feel her back was tight and she was a little jazzed about walking through the puddle. I bent her off both ways and did a few loops but she was eye balling the puddles and I knew I was asking for trouble so I hopped off and set her to work. My saddle got soaking wet but she was trotting through the puddles when we were finished. I didn't get back on (didn't want a wet ass!) but I felt like we accomplished something for the day.
Yesterday, Wednesday, I ponied Hola off of Abby in the hay field rather than lunge her... or at least that was the plan. Apparently Hola has decided that her mom is a pushover. I, however, am not. Unfortunately, I didnt get her going as well as I would have liked on the pony line as I ran out of time, (I had my DB coming to barn to be my safety). I threw Abby in her stall and took Hola out to the paddock for a talk. Five minutes later she was in a much better frame of mind. I had her disengaging her hip for a one rein stop (on the ground) and then I got on her back in a rope halter and did the same thing. She went beautifully. A successful five minute ride.
Oh! I forgot to mention... During the week and half that Hola was not being ridden (due to an infection from a cut to her hind fetlock) I tried to set a high standard for her behavior during doctoring as to keep moving forward in our overall training. I expected her to stand quietly for a ten minute cold hose (twice a day for the first 4 days and then once day thereafter) and to stand parked (not eating or tied) while I cleaned and wrapped her leg. By the end of the week I was really happy with how patiently she stood and I felt good about not wasting our time "off".