It couldn’t come soon enough, I tell you!
Ms. Willow had a couple weeks off over the holidays because we’ve been so busy or the weather has been so icky. I was finally able to get out and did so with the “I’m not puttin’ up with anymore of your crapola” mindset.
I’ve chatted a bit with the wonderful woman who owns the barn, and she passed on a suggestion to me about tying Willow (safely, obviously) to help with her patience issues. So I did. I went out and tied her to the wall (safely!) for a bit while I chatted. The idea is to ignore them, if they start to fidget, that’s fine. That’s the point. They only have themselves to fight against. Once they chill out, then you untie them with lots of pats. Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.
It worked. We chatted and I could see her fussing around, throwing her head, testing the tie. Then she chilled out. Good girl! I tacked her up and she was free of her usual wiggly-ness.
Since it’s been so cold, I always lunge her with a quarter sheet so she can get her muscles warmed up before I throw my leg over. I also take it as a chance to see what kind of horse I’m dealing with and get her working WITH me from the get go. It’s rare, now, that I use lunging just as a means of getting bucks out. Usually it just winds her up.
I put an emphasis on waiting for me to say she can walk off, trot, whatever. Before I started lunging her, I chatted some more with the barn owner and her daughter and Willow stood like a rock the whole time. Totally chill to wait for me to say that we could do something. Huh?
I spun her around for a few minutes then it was go time. I got on (she stood… whoop!) and off we went with the usual kicking at my leg, refusal to move BS. She was doing decent walk/trot transitions but would get to the part of the arena where her stall was and put on the breaks. I gave her some good Pony Club kicks, to nothing but pinned ears and a buck. It’s also, just for the record, realllllllly hard to get good momentum for a kick like that without leaning back to keep your seat for the killer buck to follow. Just sayin’.
She would shuffle forward then stop again. Snorting at the invisible monsters at the end of the arena. *sigh* Then she followed it up by dropping her shoulder and doing the cow pony spins down to the far end of the arena. For a big mare, she can spin like a top! We rinsed and reapeated a few times before I got sick of it. Finally when she pulled the brat halt and not move, move. I jumped off, grabbed my dressage whip.
We proceeded down to that end of the ring and she stopped again and ignored me. I whalloped her one. Right on the butt. Now, don’t get the impression that I beat the daylights out of her. I use a whip that makes a lot more noise than anything, and she had her quarter sheet one. It’s thick fleece. She was fine. But boy did that wake her up!
We did a couple of laps in hand around the arena, walk. halt.walk. If she didn’t step right up, she got a whallop. If she didn’t stop, she got a pop on the knee. Her eye actually RELAXED after the second lap. She started chewing. Her ear was stuck on me. HA!
I got back on and around we went. Deep into the scary corners. She thought about stopping a few times, but was motivated to keep going with a sharp “AH!” We got a few good laps each direction and called it good with lots of pats and a real pony party!
She was totally chill, ears up, relaxed, happy to stand while I untacked her and waited for her to cool out. Willow: 0 Mom: 1.
The next time I went up, I was greeted with a happy horse, one that didn’t try to kick me when I walked into the stall and was reaching for the bit instead of spinning away from me with her reins around her neck (eyeroll). Since it was bloody cold (I’m a damn wouss when it comes to being cold!) we just played in the arena and I harassed her with things like tarps and dancing on the super mounting block. She took it all in stride and was snorty, but didn’t once offer to buck, bolt, run away, or kick my brains in. She was curious, a bit snorty, but willing to put up with it. I have proof!
It’s going to be blistering cold again tonight, so I plan to just leave her be, but we’ll be back at it tomorrow! I’m actually excited!