So this is just a bit late which means it will be long. If you finish it I’ll send you a cupcake ;-)
My life has been so busy lately that I just don’t have time to do the things I want to be doing and after feeling like I was having a panic attack yesterday I’ve decided that needs to change. I’m not exactly sure how I am going to eke out more time with a full time job, long distance relationship, pony, applying for new jobs, running, etc. but I need to find some answer to the problem. Until I do these posts are going to be less frequent but I do want to make sure I am at least journaling my lessons.
Two Sunday’s ago my lesson turned out to be a bit rough. Katai’s whole world had been changed around since she was moved out to pasture and so that whole week she had been emotional and tougher to handle than normal. For the most part it was affecting her ground manners but she was leaving it at the door of the arena for rides, however, the pony that I started warming up on Sunday was an emotional wreck. Thanks to my recent change in thinking I was actually excited for the opportunity to show L what Katai is like at her worst because I knew that L could give me some great tools to use when this happens.
Again L was just so wonderful and started off by telling me not to antagonize her, start anything new, push her over the edge, or let her pick a fight with me. I really needed to hear the last since between having previous instructors try to get me to “make her do it right” “push her until she gives in” etc I have escalated the arguments that Katai starts. As I told L, she gets emotional and then I get emotional and we pick at each other until we both fall apart. Instead L just had me go back to basics, in this case a reasonable trot with Katai bent in the correct direction, and just expect her to do what I was asking but not punish her for not. As she said “It’s uncomfortable having your human posting at a different speed than you are trotting.” and every time that I focused on just riding properly while allowing Katai to do things right she would come around without too much of a blowup.
I did specifically ask for help with my canter transitions where Katai has been throwing her head in the air and L identified that I’ve been blocking her with my hands. She asked me to think of pushing the reins forward, she doesn’t want me to really do it but just to think it, as I’m asking for the transition so that she doesn’t feel blocked. This did immediately make things much better and although she did still throw her head we think that it’s more of a habit at this point and it was much less than before.
Then, at my lesson last week Katai was totally amazing!! She was really following the contact down, working through her back, trying to find her balance etc. Where we weren’t pushing her two weeks ago because she was too emotional this past week we didn’t push because she was being sooooo good! L complemented her several times and was saying how nice she looked and she certainly felt amazing, like she went from green pony to dressage pony overnight. I was grinning ear to ear for pretty much the whole ride :-) Of course L also gave us more great stuff to work on and helped me identify that I’ve been dropping the outside rein which is letting her fall out. She also wants me to keep more of a dialogue going both verbally and through my contact. She said that “green horses need a constant conversation about what they are doing correctly and what they need to change.” and of course as soon as I did that correctly she relaxed even more and seemed to LOVE the bit. She encouraged me to talk more and reward Katai verbally because she pointed out how much Katai feeds off that praise and how much more relaxed she is when I’m talking to her.
That same day that I had the incredible lesson I picked up a new addition to my little family! His name is Wedge Antilles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_Antilles for none Star Wars Fans) and he is a 1 year old Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua cross. I got him from a friend of a friend who can’t care for him anymore and I’m amazed at how the stars aligned on this. I had DREAMED of getting an Italian Greyhound when I was growing up and even spent time with some people who owned them to see if I really did want that breed. I loved everything about them from their cat-like-ness, to their size, to their short coat, and most of all how much they love their people. I am just as totally in love with him as I would have hoped :-) It helps that he is just a REALLY good boy. He hasn’t had a single accident, comes when he’s called, sits when he’s told, and listens to the word no. This is especially amazing for a little dog so I’m very impressed.