Princess Mode

((Sorry for the lack of media this week. I will attempt to remedy this in my next post.))

This week has been one steaming pile of crap (save for Wednesday when I got to meet Scarlet from thehorsedream). I didn’t really want to write about this because it really got me down yesterday but I think it’s good to ‘vent’. I’ve really been dragging ass all week. It’s not normal for me to have zero energy day after day but this week really sucked it out of me. Which is why I almost cancelled my lesson yesterday and I probably should have. I really didn’t have the energy to sit in 2 hours of traffic for a 6:30pm lesson but I did it because I’m supposed to be bringing Aria home on Sunday and I want to get in as much supervised riding time as possible with her.

She came out of her stall happy to see me and suffered her grooming good-naturedly (I don’t think she really likes being groomed). I tacked her up as usual. P and I agreed she was going to give us a good ride. We always discuss with Aria if she’s going to be a baby or a grown up for us that day. She’s an open book, so it’s very easy to tell. Definitively we knew she was going to put on her Pull-ups for this lesson.

She started off on the lunge beautifully. She was light in my hand and working at a nice slow rhythm. I was excited to get another good ride in. Then R came out of the house and headed towards the arena. This made Aria lose it. She started bolting around and bucking. I got her to settle a bit and then continued to lunge her but she was really tearing around and finding any excuse to not settle back into that nice relaxed movement we had earlier. R was advising me on how to handle her and started ‘back seat’ lunging, which I absolutely don’t mind. I’m very used to a trainer that reinforces cues I’m giving with their own vocal aids. Especially in this case where R has done all of Aria’s training.

We spent several minutes working together, R giving vocal cues and me backing them up with a physical cue if Aria chose to ignore. At this point Aria had decided that any sweet demeanor she had coming into this lesson was long gone. She was all piss and vinegar and made sure we knew it. But I wasn’t concerned. She has shown over the last two months that her attitude is manageable and her brain stays on. R told me to lunge her until she was tired and after I hopped on without any concern.

She was all hot and bothered, taking forever to flex properly. I spent time walking her and it didn’t take long for her to get that relaxed swinging walk. Then I asked for a trot and it started okay, you know, for a horse that is really full of themselves. I worked on getting her to slow down and bend around my leg for a nice 20 meter circle. It went okay for a while and then she started blowing through my aid and doing her normal evading trick. Easy to manage right? Wrong. She took serious offense to my outside leg correction and the ride started falling apart. She started spooking and scooting around, blowing through my aids and my corrections, tossing her head. I think she popped up for a rear at one point. I’m only guessing because P immediately asked me if I was okay and I was but my confidence energy was wearing thin.

P told me to put Aria’s nose on the fence for our 20 meter circle and switch the bend to the inside when our circle arched towards the center line. This worked for a few circles and I thought we were coming back to a good place by keeping Aria too busy to throw a tantrum but really I think she was just taking her time to find another reason to act up. I swear she planned this next part beautifully. We were tracking left and coming off F toward the centerline and she blew through my outside rein. I crossed my outside rein over her neck and she ignored it. I applied my outside leg and she had exactly what she was waiting for. She leaped forward (while still evading) and then fussed like crazy because ‘mooooom you gave me the canter cue—no I didn’t—and now you’re not letting me canter’.

I tried to keep riding with purpose and confidence but after 40 minutes of princess mode I was hard lining on E. I didn’t have the energy to stick it through and my form was unraveling as quickly as my confidence (but my seat was like freaking Velcro). I think P picked up on this because she offered to ride and I graciously accepted. Aria needed to end on a good note and I wasn’t going to be able to give it to her. Although that meant that P spent an hour riding the snot out of Aria until she finally gave something nice to end the lesson with. And wouldn’t you know, Aria wasn’t sweating or breathing hard at all? I think we’ve gotten to a point where her endurance can outlast us both.

I guess as I write this I can say it wasn’t a bad ride even though it was a terrible awful shitty what am I doing with my life bad ride. This ‘bad’ ride was still miles better than my worst rides. I am disappointed that I got scared and wasn’t able to push through to properly support Aria because I was tired and that fear took over but I also think I handled it far better than I normally would have. A year ago I wouldn’t have broken out of the walk if a horse was acting up like Aria was. Even though P says I could manage well if I took Aria home on Sunday, I’m not sure I like how ‘managing’ feels just yet. I fully acknowledge that R’s backseat cueing probably played a large factor into Aria’s change of heart during this lesson. I think she got very confused and was mad that R didn’t stick around to work with her because she favors R’s masculine charm over P and I (lol…fucking mares). I cannot blame anyone for Aria missing R’s attention. She spent 6 months with him 5 days a week and that suddenly stopped. The princess demand attention.

I have the weekend and another lesson tomorrow to decide if I’m going to bring Aria home but right now I’m just going to let everything percolate. Anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? I’m all ears and very hard to offend.

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6 thoughts on “Princess Mode

  1. Ah- green horse blues. It’s what they do – at some point they test to see what the boundaries are. It sounds like you guys reinforced some boundaries so it’s fine. Confidence with young horses is hard- until you have a good understanding of what they will do it makes it harder to ride with confidence (at least as an AA). There’s no magic formula- it’s just time and hard work.

    The truth is that with young horses you are going to have bad days. And in the end it’s okay because there will be more good ones. I spent a long time with Carmen having far more bad rides then good and Aria is no where as messed up as she was when I started. It’s good to know your own energy and not beat yourself up when you don’t have the reserves you need.

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    • I can imagine what you went through with Carmen. The breed tends to come with baggage when you can’t pick them up as weanlings and train them yourself!
      This is my first young horse and I’m not used to having more ‘bad’ rides than good. I think another month with the trainers to let the scales tip in the other direction might be a good idea for someone like me. 🙂

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  2. Ugh sounds really challenging but like you knew how to handle it and how to best leverage the resources you have available in P and R. Maybe not the most fun but at least educational in figuring out how the horse operates under less than ideal circumstances….

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    • It’s true. The learning experience was worth the bad ride and the more I reflect on it the more I realize that it wasn’t unmanageable. Maybe if I had been willing to stick with it I could have turned the ride around. I probably need to be a stronger rider in reality though, which will only come with time. Until then I can at least turn to my trainers for support. 🙂

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