Saturday, January 5, 2013

More blanket, less grump and new horse!

Well, I'm not %100 sure that moving Annie into a midweight blanket did the trick (I also added a few days of work on the lunge in sidereins) but I have a newer and improved Annie.  Or at least an Annie somewhat more like the Annie I had before it started to get cold.  I theorize that the more intense work on contact into the canter wasn't explained right to her, causing her to start to be grumpy, then we added cold temps and not enough blanketing causing her to be tense AND Grumpy. 

With the addition of the midweight blanket I no longer feel like I'm riding a hairy ball of anger.  Yes, she still takes about 10 minutes to warm up and stop snorting, and yes the far end of the arena is still awfully spooky, but after I get it sorted out she's working long in the contact and swinging with her back. I have the left lead canter back, and I sort of have the right lead.  I'm still getting lots of grump, so I think we really did take a step backward there as it's almost like it was when I was first working on getting a right lead at all.  I hope that by the end of next week we're back to normal.

On another note I took a spin on Cathy's new horse Penny.  This was the horse I found for Cathy and then took a test spin on.  She's back from the trainer and it's time to get her working.  She seems to be quite a fidgity horse and is quite upset about being worked.  Not "AHHH" someone's going to kill me upset, but not really looking forward to the work upset.  I got on her to feel what Cathy was feeling and to see if I could get her to chill out a bit. 

It's my working theory that you have to ride down a tense and upset horse for a few days.  If you ride a horse like that for 10 minutes or 40 minutes it just remembers being tense and upset, not how long you stayed on.  If it's head is up in the air and its back is dropped and it is braced in the bridle rushing around it remembers that.  If you get on and stay on for as long as it takes for the horse to slow down a bit and lower its head a bit because it is tired then you have a start.  The horse remembers that it ended the ride with its head lowered and that it was relaxed (through being to tired to not relax!) Then the next day you get back on, you have an advantage because the horse is probably a bit tired and sore from the day before and doesn't really feel like running like a fool so it doesn't take as long, and you get off as soon as the horse is relaxed.  After the third or fourth ride you establish a pattern of ending each ride sooner while being relaxed and you break the cycle of nerves.  Then you give the horse a few days off and hopefully it sticks.   It doesn't make the horse fit because you don't keep it up, and although it might make both of you a bit tired for a few days it does no damage. 

In this video Penny has started to get tired.  She's not tired enough to slow down her mile a minute trot or to really process everything but she's tired enough that she's exploring putting her head down at the trot and the walk.  This she will remember.  She isn't doing anything on the dressage table but I can see and feel glimmers of what she will be like once she relaxes.  The next day Cathy got on and she was much quieter to ride and less tense. 

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