My little chestnut mare. I love her, but oh my. Always an adventure with her. She’s still quite young and inexperienced and can still have her moments.
After these past two months of total isolation – and somewhat to my surprise and delight – we’ve been doing so well together.
I’ve been so proud of her as we’ve progressed with our groundwork as well as our work under saddle. She has been so responsive and accommodating. I couldn’t wait for our coach to see what we’ve accomplished. We’ve worked so hard.
Well – as all mothers know – the moment someone is looking is the moment they will act up. We had an opportunity to haul out for a ride with our coach last week. It was so nice to be with our group again after two months of solitude. My girl was a bit anxious as we loaded her in the trailer. It’s been a year since she’s travelled, and now we’ve had two months of complete isolation
When we arrived – she was a bit anxious – but we’ve been doing so well, I really wasn’t concerned and was sure she’d settle quickly enough, and admittedly I was a bit excited to ride at this lovely venue.
I walked her around inside the arena for a few minutes and then took her outside to brush her and tack her up. I tied her to the trailer and went to the other side to grab her brushes. I heard a noise and quickly went to check her. She had broken her halter and ran through the open door into the arena. Which by the way, was full of young riders. Good grief! I grabbed her lead rope that was still tied to the trailer and went in after her. One of the ladies already had her in hand by the time I got in there. I was horrified – my Spicy little mare roaming in there amongst the other riders. Thankfully she was quickly and easily haltered and no harm done.
Kids, dogs and apparently horses can always be counted on to pull the unexpected at the times when you’d really rather they would be on their usual good behaviour. No one would ever believe the progress we’ve made the past few months after that little stunt.
Needless to say – I decided to forgo our ride. I worked with her on the ground for an hour while the others rode, but she just couldn’t settle – she was a bit anxious with all the activity the duration of our time there. There’s no point pushing her when she’s like this. She’s of the nature that she needs to take it slow and get used to things at her own pace.
I learned this while getting her to the point where she was comfortable hacking out. We did a trail ride with the group in February- and she was pretty spicy. It wasn’t exactly a relaxing trail ride as she pranced around anxious and worried, clearly feeling distressed by the new experience.
Since then I started taking her off property while leading her on the ground. We’d go a bit further each time until she started to relax. After about a month of many walks off the property I finally felt she was ready and started to ride out with her. We’d go a little further each time until finally we were able to go for an hour long ride and she was totally relaxed. We trotted and cantered and she didn’t have a moment of anxious behaviour. It was wonderful!
My plan now is to approach her experience in new venues the same way. I’ll haul her out and spend time with her on the ground – getting her used to different venues until she is not so anxious about it. As she becomes more familiar with the process I’ll start asking more of her and getting her to work when we’re there. She’s really such a sweetheart if you just have the patience to understand her and work within her limits. Some might think I’m too easy on her – but it’s really not that – I just understand her. I don’t let her get away with anything when I know she knows better – but I know to be patient with her and let her adjust to new circumstances before I ask more of her than she can manage at the time.
When I arrived at her paddock today she was still annoyed as she didn’t nicker and come running when I arrived as usual – but snubbed me quite obviously as she put her nose in the air and walked away from me when I arrived. I chatted to her and took my time until she came around. She quietly and willingly came to me to let me halter her. We had a lovely day – and she was once again her sweet self.
While we still have our adventures – the good news is we’re learning. We’ve had some wonderful teaching from experienced horse people and continue to appreciate the support and knowledge they share. We’ve come so far in understanding what works for us and what doesn’t. We’re learning trust and strengthening our partnership. As with most relationships we’ll continue to learn and grow together and enjoy every moment of the journey.