Thursday, January 7, 2016

When you get sucked into your horse's antics

I was quite excited yesterday to be able to make it out for a ride at a decent ride after work. Despite the cold weather, which literally happened overnight, I was ready to get into our training regime and work on some homework. Not to mention, I was eager to try the new footing for myself!

I dont have any new photos to share unfortunately, so Ill just share some old ones for fun! 
Tillie was fairly nice about getting tacked up...she hasnt been lately with her soreness and ulcer issues, but shockingly she wasnt really back sore at all! Still girthy but her ulcer meds should be here hopefully soon. We did some carrot stretches (with left over candy canes!) and got a few pops out from her neck. Today it was only stretching to the right we got them...most days its both sides.

Anyway, we marched down to the ring with purpose to join fellow blogger Emma and another barnmate on her greenie. Knowing Tillie hates the cold, I planned to let her walk and trot around for a bit on a looser rein until she settled in. I made a mental note to bring my quarter sheet and BOT back pad as well (I dont spoil her or anything).

This was my first ride on our new footing and couldnt wait to see if I felt a difference.

New footing!!! 
It was a bit crunchy and starting to want to freeze, but I was really impressed that it still felt nice and bouncy and forgiving...the sand would have been as a hard as a rock. There is some deeper areas that provided some challenges later in our ride, but Ill touch on that later.

Starting out in the walk, Tillie really wanted to be quick...I tried not to fuss at all too much and decided to let it happen with it being so cold and just use circles and changing direction to monitor that. Pushing into trot she felt a bit tense through her body and was hesitant to turn off my outside aids, but she eventually gave in and started maintaining a nice rhythm.

After working on both sides I started putting her together in walk and established inside bend off my inside leg aids and thought about "catching" her with the outside. I took the opportunity to try to work on my own evenness as well. She worked well at the walk and while she wasnt totally relaxed as I would like, decided it didnt want to dwell too much.

Is this relaxed enough for you?
Pushing into trot we worked through the normal conversations and did some random figures and changing rein so she couldnt anticipate and started working into the forward and slower trot homework from our last dressage lesson. This all went quite swimmingly and she began to relax and offer to stretch when I allowed.

I decided it was time to ask for canter. Knowing it was the first canter of the ride tried to keep my expectations light and my own riding out of her way to let her warm up here. I got in pseudo half seat so my bottom lightly touched the saddle, put my hands forward and let her right lead canter just happen. I kept her on the 20 M circle for this. She offered a trot transition and I allowed so we changed the rein to do left lead and it started off just as nicely.....

I swear there is a nice canter in there some days.
...Until she went into the deeper footing in the corner. Her response was to brace and race. I did my best not to grab and put her on a smaller circle and let that do the work of suppling for me but Tillie has caught on to this trick and decided steering wasnt for her.

After a good 2-3 circles of establishing that NO TILLIE you MUST steer when there are this many horses in the ring, we came to trot and I prepared to try again. Well coming down to trot she reverted back to her greener days of holding her head and neck in the "im pretty and doing this whole on the bit thing" that is fake and there is NO contact there at all...but it looks like Im pulling on her because im trying to find some resemblance of weight in my reins.

Once I had at least something to work with, I tried for canter again to work on getting one that was more level headed. Once again it all was fine...until she caught site of the straight away and decided why not brace and head that way and build into a hand gallop...that sounds fun. NOT.

I had to use a one rein stop and kick the snot out of her with my outside aids since that is what she chose to ignore and after some protesting she came down to a walk. Took a minute here to reestablish contact and had to go back into trot work for a while since she wanted to do this choppy jiggy trot behind the contact and be cheeky with me like "Ohhh see I can go slow"

She produced some lovely trot work here after a few laps and was quite supple either direction, even left bend!

I knew I had to canter again though and get a quiet, SOFT canter before I called it quits so I started randomly asking for trot, canter trot and canter on a circle for a bit and back to trot.

She shockingly didnt get too expectant to canter but I just felt like we were out of sync. We werent clicking and I felt like transitions were full on in the 2 score range complete with giraffe mode and inverting.

can we go back to this night when we could canter outside of a circle without losing our brain?!

A few times in the ride, my trainer D's voice came into my head probably because Tillie has acted this way more in his lessons then with anyone else...but all I could hear was "nothings changed in a while, you need to do something to get a bigger response here..."

When walking her out to cool down she was still quite speedy...but at that point I didnt want to mess at all anymore or have any more arguments. I realized I got sucked into her antics already this ride and I felt really disappointed with myself. I have been really good lately about not getting so rattled, but this is the first ride in a long time it got to me.

I dont want to lose this magic!
I guess these rides are bound to happen...but I instantly feel helpless and like I shouldnt be riding unless in a lesson setting. I crave a dressage lesson so bad it puts me off wanting to ride again until I get one which is ridiculous. It doesnt help my last ride in the smaller ring wasnt particularly splendid either...even though that one I didnt get rattled as much it sorta caught up to me here.

Logically I can talk myself off the ledge, but emotionally I succumb to all the negativity. I realized by the time I got home, I have only been in 1 actual P lesson in a month between holidays and Tillie's shoe...and realized SHE has been the reason Ive had confidence and the cool calm go with the flow mentality lately.

I was contemplating missing this weekend to attend a local show, but I think after this ride it is apparent I need to make a visit with DR. P as I am calling her now.


  1. Oh Tillie... Her antics... I'm terrible about getting sucked in to Stinker's antics. When I remember to shut them down early he is amazing if not it's giraffe/saddlebred mode, so I feel your pain. Hopefully the lesson will give you the boost you need :)

    1. The problem is I havent figured out how to shut them down...or when I do, she evolves a bit to allow to still do what she does. In the scheme of things, she really didnt do anything THAT bad compared to the past...I just had unrealistically high expectations which wasnt exactly fair.

    2. I only figured Stinker out because D figured him out and then told me. My only suggestion is if you can fix it on a circle do that then go straight and as soon as she loses it go back to the circle.

  2. What a cheeky mare!!

    I wonder if you were to implement some 15m-20m circles coming down the long sides if that would help? Like, come out of your corner and go into a 15m circle, go back onto the straight away and then go into another circle.

    1. She is quite cheeky! I fall for it too...then when I get off and mentally evaluate the ride, it is so clear and then I hate it isnt that way when I am on and riding.

      I do use circles a lot, but have been told I need to try her on more straighter lines to get out of that safety net. Shes great on the circle shes really not sure yet.

  3. ugh i know alllllll about getting baited into a fight that distracts from what i was actually trying to do in the first place.... so incredibly frustrating and then i always kinda hate myself. solidarity, girl. (and actually i'm working on a post on this exact subject for myself too)