Whoa Means Whoa…

At least that’s the hard line I’ve been trying to take with Willow lately. If my feet aren’t moving, I expect that her’s stay still as well. If not, I’m on her like white on rice, no exceptions. It’s really helped her to re-focus on me, and even when she’s spooking at something I have her ear. When I’m leading her on the ground, she picked it up in a session, easy peasy.

We worked up and down the arena. Walk/halt. Walk/trot. Trot/halt. Turn away from me. Back up. I spent about twenty minutes on it, and she had it. Good girl! Lots of pats and I tucked her into bed for the night.

Last night, I stepped up our ground lessons to the lunge line. All I was asking her to do was be quiet and listen. I achieved it at the end after much ‘discussion’.  The first few times I asked her to walk off and she blew right through the aid. I tightened up the circle (we’re talking less than 5m here) and asked her to ‘whoa’ once. She totally ignored me. The sky opened up and mean mommy rained down on her little bay head. I gave the lunge line a good snap and did the big scary “WHOA” voice. I also stuck my whip in front of her. I didn’t hit her with it, just let her run into it.

Her eyes got huge, and she started backing up for all that she was worth. I didn’t chase her, just quietly followed her backwards until she decided that she was over herself. Then we went back to work. It happened a few more times, and she was finally doing walk/trot/walk/halt transistions with no fuss.

We had to rinse and repeat in the opposite direction, but she finally came to her senses about the whole thing. Whoa meant whoa last night, and I wasn’t going to negotiate about it.

I talked a little bit in an earlier post about how I was tiptoeing around her, because she’s the nicest horse I’ve ever worked with. I needed to get over that, and our come to Jesus last night was just that. She realized that Mommy isn’t just a carrot dispenser and she didn’t blow through me. By the end of the session, I had her brain, even though it was dark and Dixie was running around like a mad thing, and all her friends were inside. I’m going to apply myself to serious ground work for the rest of the week, and then it’s back in the saddle next week.

I’ve been debating back and forth about putting her somewhere with an indoor this winter. It’s going to cost us, and while we can afford it, I’d rather keep saving the funds for when we move. The downside to that is that my saddle time will be limited this winter.

I do love Frogs Leap though, and our arena footing is so awesome that I could ride in it as long as there isn’t a massive amount of snow on the ground. I can deal with the cold. My other problem is that Mike doesn’t get out of work until 5-530 or even later. The sun is down by then. We really can’t afford for me to be hiring a sitter 3-4 days a week.

What to do, what to do!

I also want to use this winter to really expand my Dressage education with books/videos and clinics. I have Dressage with Kyra on tap already, and I’m also taking advatange of Anne Gribbons and Michael Barisone clinics this November. Does anybody else have any good suggestions? Who are your rider idols? Mine are Kyra, Shannon Peters, Carl Hester, and Charlotte Dujardin, along with Becky, naturally. 😉

I’m planning on stocking up on the reads while I’m at Equine Affair in a few weeks and would love some suggestions!



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