Sunday, June 1, 2014

End of May Analysis; June Goals!

Holy crap it's June! Time to go over our May goals!


May Goals:
1) Mandatory week off! I've been working her hard and a recent really nasty heat cycle has left her crampy and stilted all over. She deserves some built-in downtime! 
Success! She had a week off, and then when we got back to flatwork we had some serious come to Jesus meetings.
2) Once vacation is over, trailer out once a week for exhibitions at local barrel races (we need some softer arena footing to do canterwork around the barrels - it's very hard to do that on our hard ground/slick grass)
We didn't do this once. Why? Because after our first come to Jesus meeting, I realized our issues revolve entirely around a training problem, and I needed to get back to the root of things in order to fix it!

3) Once a week long, slow, easy hacks/trail rides (possibly bareback/in a halter, or some combo of that)
Success! I did not do it this week just because I spent so much time working on flatwork instead, but I did hack her out in her rope halter. I actually don't think I'll do it again - just because I *can* do it doesn't mean I should. If something were to happen (a big spook or something), I'd have nothing.
4) Slow work on the barrels at home (barrel-ssage) - emphasis on flatwork and rideability, which is critical! 
Flatwork and rideability yes, barrels no! Just plain ol' flatwork, and lots of it. And it was good!
5) Continuing on with canterwork - relaxation and responsiveness!
This is our biggest success. I had to put a huge giant honking combo bit on her, and I had to lay down some law, but we have a canter now that isn't completely out of control. I think I will jump her either in the hackamore or the combo bit, and transition from the combo bit back to the snaffamore for flatwork - eventually I want her going back in just a mullen mouth snaffle as she historically has really liked that bit. I might play around with snaffles too, try my loose ring KK or my eggbutt Cyprium double jointed (which was Gogo's favorite, after the famous bloo bit.)


June Goals:
1) Continue to play with bitting options - which bits for which things?
2) Keep doing more flatwork! Flatwork flatwork flatwork!
3) XC schoolings - there are a few to choose from!
4) If we have time, start trailering over to the local jump arena and use their facilities for gridwork!
5) Did I mention flatwork? Do more flatwork!


 What a month! I really feel for the first time in a long time that I actually had a month where I actually *got somewhere* instead of floundering about. It is a LOOOOONG uphill climb from here, but now, I think we can actually make a real eventer out of her. Every step of the journey is going to be hard. This horse has - and uses - every evasion in the book, for everything. Now that I have her where she can't bolt, she is twisting her neck and going sideways to continue to evade. Once I straighten her, she slows down. Once I speed her up, she's off again, and so on and so forth. She is sound, fit, and stubborn as all get out. But, we can do this. If we work really, really hard, we can do this. 

I took some really terrible selfie video from our ride yesterday, and literally almost all of the video is completely unusable - I had it aimed away from where I actually ended up riding. However, I did manage to get a few stills that show some of the things we got to work on:

We do lots of walking with just the snaffle rein:

 And our trot and canterwork is still a bit tight in the neck, but when it all comes together it looks sort of halfway decent. You can see how floppy the curb rein is for the most part:

And here's a more accurate depiction of what's *really* happening. Being that she has every evasion in the book, now that I've taken away her bolt she has backed off the bit again. Before, she was taking a nice contact, and we do still get moments of that, but when she takes the contact strongly she uses that against me and pulls/runs. I suppose you have to go back a step in order to go forward again - at least now she's not bearing down on the bit and galloping away. She is a twisty little pretzel pony though - she likes to go slowly with her neck twisted and her shoulder popped out, and when you straighten her she tends to try and bolt again. In this picture you can see I'm giving her the option of going back to my contact (despite my puppy paws) - she is clearly not amused with the whole idea but at least she's not bolting. I also was riding her on an incline for this video, something I NEVER do. She was so out of control on the downhill before that I literally couldn't even ride her on an incline at all. Considering that, and considering the fact that I rode her back over to the flat area and had a really good ending to our ride, I'm pretty happy with how it went. She had a deserved day off today!

Poor abused pony, doing that terrible dressage thing!

And yes, that is a clean horse, in a clean pad, with clean polos, and clean tack... aaaaaaand I'm in dirty jeans. Oh well, at least I still always #mindmymelon! 


  1. I love how beefy she is! :D I'm glad you've finally had a breakthrough. You've done a great job with her and you will figure the rest of it out. Eventually she will run out of evasions and learn that it's so much easier to do it the right way. :)

  2. Terrible dressage, Misty would definitely agree with O on that!

  3. Lovely. I can't wait to see how this progresses!

  4. I can't run STRAIGHT where I want to go? Okay, I'll perform ABSURD sideways maneuvers instead!

    Oh, yes, I know that. HA.

    I love reading all of your posts and breakthroughs and puzzling through issues of late. The toolsets you're utilizing to solve them are very helpful to me with Q. I really admire the way you're able to document all of your trials and tribulations so well on this blog with O - great writing and thank you for continuing to share!

  5. It's so awesome to see you doing this with her. I also admire that you are doing what it takes to get to the root of some of her issues. I'm enjoying your successes with her :)