On Thursday night L and I hauled all the horses to ride at a local indoor arena... and when I say "all the horses" that includes Hola! While I've hauled Hola out quite a bit it has been a while and I knew she would be jazzed. The idea of getting on Hola in a big arena and in a new place scared the living bageezus out of me so I lied to myself, (a really helpful tool that is- being able to lie to yourself). I told my cowardly chicken shit brain that I was just going to pony her off of Abby and that way she would be familiar with the arena the next time I hauled out. Ha! I'm so gullible.
There is a big tie rail inside the cover-all (but just outside the arena) so, as it was raining, we hauled our tack inside and tied the horses to the rail. Hola was JACKED. It is so nice to have a steady-eddie horse to bring along, Abby just cocked a hip and ignored her daughter's bug eyed pacing. I figured that was a good approach so I did the same, just tacked her up like it was no biggie. L then took Abby and Ella in to the arena (which is behind a tall wall). Well, Hola went from restless and worried to full panicked. So I just stood in one spot and moved her feet around every time she tried to look over the wall. After five minutes she was a bit more settled but still far from relaxed however, I needed to get in and take Abby from L so that she could get riding so I had didn't get her as settled as I would have liked. Ideally I would have been able to just leave her tied while I rode but this place had no ties inside the arena (only outside the wall where I couldn't see her). I tried not to let Hola rest too long beside Abby when we went in (less relief at being with the other horses). I quickly got up and started trotting circles. Hola didn't like it much when I put her on the outside of the circle and long trotted Abs. LOL. Working that hard was not in her repertoire. So being the evil woman that I am we kept at it until she looked too tired to be pissy.
After our good work I spent quite a while standing and walking around (on Abs, ponying Hola) talking to L. When L was done riding I lunged Hola for a minute to get her mind on me and off of being stuck like glue to her mom. On the lunge Hola went sooooo soft and light. I just love watching that horse move. The upside was that the time ponying had made her much more confident and relaxed, the bad side was that she had aired up and found a second wind, so she wasn't not tuckered out at all. Oh boy. I walked her around and checked her cinch. I went to mount. Just then, somewhere nearby, firecrackers went off. Awesome. She raised her head and went bug-eyed but stood solid. I waited a few minutes till her eye went back in to her head and then got on. She stood. And didn't so much as turn a hair at the idea that I was on her. We stood for a few minutes, I bent her around left and right and then I asked her to walk off.. and found that while she didn't much care that I was on her but she did very much care about walking away from the other horses. I had to really think then about what I wanted to achieve. My goal was to get her to move out on good footing in a new place and to stay relaxed. So, I asked L to get on Abby and walk up beside me. Rather than have her pony me I just asked L to walk ahead of us. Sure enough Hola followed. She really stretched out and within a minute I was able to ask her to walk up and past Abby. So long as Abby stayed within fifteen feet or so she guided and moved out beautifully. No matter how far i got from Abby I was able to bend her to a stop and have her stand. On one hand this felt like a cop out as didnt have complete control. I wasn't comfortable with the idea that half of her mind was still stuck to Abby.... however, when I looked at the picture as a whole I realized that I had set us up to have her glued to the other horses the entire time and that asking her to move away was far beyond where we were at in her training. I had my horse moving out, guiding, stopping and standing still. I didn't have 100 percent of her mind. But she was confident, relaxed and pretty soft. In that respect I couldnt say the night was a complete failure... but it reminded that I need really think and plan ahead. I was so stuck on whether or not I had the nuts to get on Hola, that I didn't stop to think about whether I should have gotten on Hola. If I had stopped to think I would have easily been able to predict what would happen, (that she would be unhappy about leaving the other horses).
I knew going in that I was not going to be perfect... or anywhere close to it. Hola could do much better. Because I'm a total amateur, I cant afford to make the mistakes that are so foreseeable. I am going to be making enough mistakes that I cant see or avoid. I am going to have to be better next time.