Not only was it hot out yesterday but the big mare must have been IN heat as well. She was an absolute monster when I went out to get her. I have never seen her like that. She was waiting at the gate and nickered to me but it was about the time that the normal grooms would have taken her inside for some hay so I figured she was just excited. She was fine when I came in the gate and snapped my lead rope to her halter and then I opened the door and she swung her bum around like normal as I slowly shut the gate. Then all hell broke loose. She started dancing on the lead rope backing up, spooking, and running around me as I stood calmly asking her to whoa and stand. She dodged left and then right and I ran out of lead rope. I remembered sometimes it is just safer to let go… at the exact moment the rope grazed my palm leaving a small burn. I saw a huge flying insect- looked like a large bee near her rump and I thought that might have been the cause for all the chaos but as soon as I let go of the rope she stood still in the corner. I collected the rope and she started to dance around again. I felt unprepared for what seemed to be an escalating issue so I brought her around and opened the gate to her pasture, let her back in and unclipped. She kinda just stood there and about that time one of the other ladies at the barn came down asking if I needed a chain for her, probably because of all the commotion. I told her I’d never used one before and hadn’t seen her like this. I hungout for a second because Kate was being quiet and then decided to try again and so I clipped back on and led her through the gate, she didn’t spook anymore but she definitely wasn’t listening to me and was trying to bully her way up to the barn. I stopped her a few times and gave her a yank on the line every time she got fast but all in all she practically carried me back to the barn hanging on the lead rope. Completely unacceptable. Sigh… this is another one of those moments where no one really lets you know the appropriate way to discourage bad behaviour. In the moment it isnt really intuitive and even though I think I did a few very smart things in the thick of it, including staying calm as a 1600lb helicopter was dancing around me on a 4ft long string, I still wonder what I should have done.
I know that, like with children, you are supposed to be swift and calm with your corrections and then let it go. But my heart was pounding, my hand hurt, and I was already exhausted. Shame on me I suppose- I ought to have worked her hard and not let her touch her hay until I was done but I wasn’t feeling it anymore. I made her stand in cross-ties and groomed her slowly and thoroughly and then I just left her in her stall and didn’t ride. Oh well, I admit my horse ownership abilities are a work in progress. I guess I’ll never really know what made the Belgian go batsh*t crazy today but I might have to have the grooms teach me how to use that chain just for future reference.
Just tryin’ to stay cool in the heat.
Great lesson today on my favorite Belgiansaurus! She was right in my hands and I got to feel what nice and round feels like. Now to build some muscle memory around that image for both of us! Great walk-trot transitions and pretty good bending. We even had a lovely leg yield at the trot with perfect tempo and balance…well, until she tripped 🙂 but it was pretty while it lasted. I am getting better with the double bridle even though I have to be reminded to take up some more rein and maintain contact. We are both improving rapidly and consistently and it feels great. It’s gonna be a great summer.
Gosh has it really been so long since I have written?? My apologies indeed.
I certainly have a lot to update you on–horse related and otherwise!
The biggest reason for my writing absence is that I recently moved, and any of you who have ever moved know how daunting it can be. The funny, somewhat horse-related, part of that story is that I moved in with the owner of the horse I lease! Who would have guessed that when I got curious one evening and decided to take my first ever peek at craigslist on a whim that it would eventually result in me leasing my very first horse and finding a new friend (and roommate!) in the process.
Speaking of Kate, the big-hearted Belgian we all love, she is doing quite well in her training proving to be a lovely dressage prospect and an excellent longeing lesson horse as well. I couldn’t be happier with the progress I am making in my riding through my lessons. I’ll bring you back to a few months ago and a post I wrote about…dun dun duuuun the double bridle. Well guess what, I am in the process now of learning to use the double bridle with Kate thanks to the help of my instructor. I won’t deny that I am still learning to manage all those reins in my hands but Kate does so so well with it and it is helping me learn to just breathe and give with my fingers without having to worry about Kate all of a sudden remembering that she is a draft horse and could just yank me right out of the saddle if she felt like it. She seems very comfortable with it, so light and attentive.
My lessons are great because they help me learn how to do this stuff under the watchful eye of someone who knows and who can see things I can’t see when I’m working alone. Last night I rode Kate for a non-lesson ride but it was my first time dealing with the double myself. I did pretty well although it took me twice as long to bridle her than it normally does because I am still not used to dealing with all of the hardware. Once I got in the arena things started pretty well, the only hitch was that Bill was in giving back to back lessons and I already feel a little guilty for busting in on lessons because when I am having a lesson I know I’d rather have the arena to myself too. So I tried to be polite and stay mostly out of the way and go about our business. We did some bending and circles while warming up and Kate relaxed and became nice a round for those and then we did some walk-trot transitions which went pretty well, Kate gave me a nice trot and came back to me easily. I did a bit more trot work but it wasnt going quite as well, she wasn’t rounding up for me and in the one direction her shoulder kept squirting out around the turns. I think my reins were a little too loose but it seems harder to feel with the double so hopefully I will get better at that. We ended early because I was feeling a little bit of performance anxiety…with Bill there teaching and three other barn people watching the lessons I was feeling pretty exposed since this is only my second time riding with the double bridle. I know they are all very nice people and their comments would only be trying to help me but I’ll admit it- I hate looking like a novice while I’m learning something brand new. That sounds kind of counter intuitive but what I mean is that I would have liked a few more times riding with the double by myself and with my trainer before becoming a public spectacle for a bunch of experienced horse people. Sigh… working with horses is a consistently humbling experience. You have to start somewhere!
So nice to spend the morning with you. ❤