While I plan to slowly re-introduce trail work to Q through many experiences with ground driving (and then slow work alone on trail coupled with faster work on trail when she has a confident trail buddy), cross training through jumping and dressage rides in the back field are still on my radar. They're great opportunities to keep her fitness up without putting her in situations that stress her spooky side so much. Additionally, these kinds of cross training rides build a great foundation for things on trail later (lateral work, collection, impulsion, etc.)!
Griffin was closer to the gate when I arrived yesterday, so I haltered him and turned him loose in the barnyard to eat grass before grabbing Q. Q became very concerned when I didn't get her first, however, and marched herself over to me immediately and did all but put the halter on herself. How dare I let Griffin have grass and not her! (I have no false perceptions that this horse cares about me as more than a provider of delicious things at this point in time, haha.)
I brought both horses to the barn to scrape off all the mud while they indulged in grain and their first candy cane. (Griffin didn't take to it any more or less than any other treat. Q decided it must clearly be horse-crack that I've been hiding from her all these years and begged for more).
I tacked Q up in her S-hack and set Griffin up with a flake of alfalfa to munch, and then took Q to the far field to play around with the cavaletti and ground poles that would later be jumps.
Things went far better than I expected in regards to Q's behavior. She exhibited ZERO spooky behaviors. She was alert to things happening in the surrounding environment and keyed in on the fact that her herd was across the creek, but she wasn't upset or scared about anything. It was AWESOME. She was also focused on the grid work I had set up and her only refusal to a jump the whole time was 110% my fault because I was staring HARD at the jump instead of beyond it - she always refuses a jump if I'm doing that.
Not so awesome things about the ride though? She exhibited some freight train tendencies once again. Not nearly as awful as they'd been in May, but still present in some fashion. I attribute half of it to the hackamore. While she definitely enjoys it and will listen to it, it just isn't going to be great for the jumping work for a time. From the moment we crossed the creek into the back field last night she was UP. She did NOT want to walk. I had to laugh at her exuberance. It was really good to witness that she can be so forward without being spooky. This gives me hope for future trail pursuits.
However, an already peppy horse who also becomes VERY "up" about jumping has helped me to reach the decision that I would prefer to have a bit to bring her down from that excitement easier. If I had a nickel for every time I told her "easy" or "steady" or "whoa" last night I would be considerably richer. She listened to the hackamore better than I thought she would for the amount of energy she exhibited, but I know that I would be able to be even lighter with my aids if she had the kimberwicke. I do hope that I will one day be able to return to using the hackamore jumping as she was working so beautifully in it last night even when she was charging around! It may very well be that she was just super peppy yesterday and would have acted the same no matter the type of bridle though.
I attribute the other half of her fright train tendencies to her breed. Unless I was putting her through lots of transitions, circles, serpentines, the grid of cavaletti/ground poles/jumps, or other fast-paced changes, she was looking off into the distance at various things or gazing longingly at her herd across the field. This gaze was also coupled with a magnetic draw that lent itself to many attempts to try to motivate in those directions despite what I desired. I've heard many folks note that Arabians have very active minds that are best occupied by many changes in speed or direction with flat work. This little mare fits the bill 110%. She's an athletic little thing, but that athleticism is easily channeled to other motives if it is not harnessed properly!
I'd give the whole session an A-. It fulfilled my jumping bug for the day and the mare was great, despite a few bumps. I'm very, very pleased with the level of confidence she exhibited; any day without spooking is a Very Good Day. Her tendency to barrel around if not provided enough complicated maneuvers to work through and think about definitely will be a challenge for me though! I'm a quick-thinking, multitasking individual most of the time, but this horse has me beat right now, haha. I do think I am up for the challenge, it will just take some time and studying of different options so that I'm able to guide her through exercises without having to think up which exercises I want to flow through. (Sort of like a vinyasa flow yoga routine!)
Overall, a positive session in my opinion. It was great to witness that the mare can be sane and I know what I need to work on to help keep her mind focused!
|My phone camcorder didn't focus on the moving subject as well as the stationary grass, but I think it is a cool shot all the same! That jump seemed so much bigger IRL than it appears on camera, too, lol. The standards max out at 4'|