Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ride 14- Pushing Past Comfort

Yesterday Hola and I had spent the afternoon hanging around the barn. Here in Southern BC a sunny winter day brings about this irresistible buzz of energy! Most of us head outside to garden, hike, ride or do chores but often, once one actually gets out in to the sun, a vitamin D coma of sorts sets in and suddenly all we want to do is stretch out like a lazy cat and bask in glow of that warm light. We have had a very mild winter here in the West Coast  (sorry my fellow Canadians to the East!) but a sunny day never goes unappreciated. And so it was that I found myself at the barn doing chores, rushing around doing errands, meeting the vet, brining in a load of hay and intermittently sitting in the middle arena with my eyes closed simply soaking up the rays.  Hola was not nearly as busy. She stood in the sun all day and barely moved. I kept thinking that I should get on her and do some of the softening exercises from the day before but my "to-do" list didn't end and it wasn't until the sun was just starting to set that I finally had time to ride. Laurie was home from work and we decided to head back in to the big field for a quick jaunt. It sounded like a good plan at the time...

But I failed to stop and think about what I was doing and whether I was setting Hola up for success. After a day of hard work I was just dying to get on and go for a quiet walk around the field. Had I paused for moment to think I would have realized this was a plan bound for failure. Most nights, right around dusk, the horses get this surge of energy. They start thinking about coming in for supper. They are the furthest from their last meal. They are tired of standing out in the rain or... after a warm day of sleeping in the sun the crisp evening air makes them come alllllive. Nothing makes our horses more jacked than that sharp drop in temperature at dusk. The sleepy, soft, relaxed pony I caught and saddled at 5:15 was a much different animal than the one I went to stop on at 5:30pm. Hola was ready to roll. She had been moving around me so nicely on the line and looked so damn pretty doing it that I really didn't notice, (until I was sitting on her that is) that she was so jacked. Right away my first thought was, "I need to get off." She was buzzy. I sucked it up and asked her to walk on which she did with a fair about of bounce in her step. We a few hundred meters down the length of the field before I circled out away from Ella and tried to get her to soften. Ella continued down the field a short distance and I could feel Hola's anxiety rise. Laurie realized I wasn't able to follow along and so looped back to me. I had to holler at Hola a few times when I felt her start to really brace up but she didn't actually try anything. We walked back towards the barn and started doing some circles. I could feel Hola come back to me but she was still buzzing. I asked Laurie if she could just stand and wait a minute while I waited for a good place to quit. It is SO hard to wait for a place to quit when ride is gong sideways. I went back to what she knows, some one rein stops to a whoa and while she was far from hog wild she was also far from being under control. I finally got her stand quietly for a minute and she gave her face softly both ways. I waited another minute as she stood and just prayed she wouldn't take a step. She didn't so I finally able to get off. As much as I regret not setting her up for success and while I admit that she probably went backwards in her training that ride, I cant regret the little bit of confidence I gained in being on her while she was so wired. I didn't get off. I didn't get off and waited for the right place to quit. I hope to get on Hola tomorrow when she is nice and relaxed and go back to softening and just riding around quietly. Hopefully that will undo last nights mistake easily enough without loosing what I gained.


  1. It's all a part of the journey. Some rides will always be better than some others, but you handled the situation (and her energy) well, and did not bail when that's exactly what you wanted to do. A lesson is a lesson, and the short and sweet ones, sometimes stick better than you'd think. Well done!!

  2. I agree that you handled that situation perfectly. Adding a little more "pressure" in your rides as you go will help both you and her find confidence in yourselves. Setting up for success is always a priority, but pushing past your comfort zone isn't always a bad idea either. You don't give yourself enough credit. You are doing amazing with her and going back to the things she knows in high-anxiety or pressure situations was perfect! Brantley approves <3

  3. Thanks to you both! On good days I feel like "Okay, I got this!" on bad days... not so much:) I always try to end on what she knows or what she got right and I really think that is paying off more than anything.

  4. I haven't read your blog since you started riding Hola, but I'm happy to see you still have her and you are riding her! What is fascinating to me is that we seem to be going through exactly the same things in training our horses. Except mine is 9 and has no excuse. It's been a very difficult 2 years and now I'm ready to give up. See, I don't have an arena to ride in, and I don't have anyone to ride with on trails to help my horse handle her fears. So it's pretty much futile now.

    I loved the yawning video!