Tuesday, December 23, 2014

TOABH: Shining Star

Shining Star

Let's talk about the biggest achievements your horse has accomplished.  I'm not talking about you as a rider - I want to know what your ponykins has done to make you proud.  Is there a glorious satin collection, did he/she figure out some dressage movement that took months to learn, or are is it just a great day when your butt stays in the saddle?  It's not all about shows or the things that people see.
Griffin - Consistency under saddle.

If you'd told me this time last year about how AWESOME this horse would become under saddle, I would have called you a liar. Griffin was so consistently inconsistent with his behavior under saddle until this year. Yes, he's a greenie baby, but boy oh boy does the kid have moods that are unpredictable!

And his hate of any pressure from the bit in the beginning? ACK. If you did something in the slightest that he didn't like, he was pitching a crow hopping and or bucking FIT. So we spent some time using various gadgets on the lunge so he could learn that pressure from something in his mouth wasn't going to be the end of the world. I presented him with several ways in which he might experience pressure and he worked through his issues with it without me on his back. Within a month's time, he was significantly better under saddle. No more frequent outbursts. Infrequent outbursts? Of course. Because Baby. (Example: In his worry over his new environment while riding downtown Saturday night, he jumped and spooked every time I'd use a leg aid. I wasn't using them often, as I was keeping him in the back of our small group, so with each reintroduction he'd startle and spook before realizing it was just me. Babies.)

Q - Trailering.

While loading the mare is still best done with 2 people (one to lead her on and step out the escape door and the other to immediately close the back door while this is happening), I'm so thrilled that getting this horse on a trailer is a non-issue in comparison to what it was for a time there. I can absolutely count on her getting on the trailer on the very first try these days.

I've loaded her once by myself and let her have a tug-o-war battle for a few seconds even. It was a bit scary, but she didn't struggle very hard in the grand scheme of things. Her general demeanor around the trailer these days is one of calm and not one of panic. She seems to recognize that the trailer is not a place of torture and that all trailer rides will end and she will not be trapped.

While I'd still love to revisit the whole self-loading thing with her, I'm really thrilled with where we are right now as she is experiencing significantly less stress than she used to which is HUGE for her. I'll take a calm mare over one that sees red any day!

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