Monday, March 23, 2009

Remembering to Breathe

Junior is enjoying his turn-out so much that he has what feel like callouses on both sides of his upper lip. But he's much less likely to bite me while rubbing me with the callouses so that's a good trade as far as I'm concerned.

He was good for the ride. I loped him more than I have in a while and though he was too fast for WP he was pretty well balanced and took his leads well. I needed to move him out to the wall at one point and he changed leads instead of leg yielding so that was a way. The change was very smooth so maybe when I change his leads I just need to trust that he'll take the flying change instead of pulling him back before asking. I caught myself being more comfortable at the lope than I had felt in a while. Even though he was going faster than I wanted him to go, he was smooth and I didn't have to do a ton of managing his balance. I don't know how his headset is doing. He's improving more and more at the walk and jog but his head comes up a lot at the lope. Now I will NEVER sacrifice a smooth forward-going three-beat lope just to have a trendy flat neck at the lope, but he does need to keep his back round to lope slowly and keeping his neck flatter helps with the back. I'm just not sure if he should be encouraged to go lower.

After the ride I did a hack around the farm with two of the lesson girls and their horses. They showed me a longer route around the farm so Junior got to see some stuff he'd never seen before. As soon as we went straight instead of turning to go into the outdoor arena he got a little wound up but he didn't spook or do anything stupid. He was certainly alert and not totally relaxed but he was good. It was funny because from the moment we were at a place he'd never been to the moment we stepped back onto the familiar path he was wound up but as soon as we stepped back onto the part he'd been on before he dropped his head and sighed. This was the first time we'd gone out in a group, too so it was interesting to see how that was for him. He was a faster walker than the other two, but he kept looking back at them and then when I stopped correcting him forward and allowed him to follow his nose he turned around to greet the other two. So he didn't mind being in front he just wanted the others closer. Though he was more wound up than he had been in ages I never felt like he was going to spook or bolt. I did notice that when we were walking between the far barn and a fence line he was the worst and I was expecting to come around the corner of the barn and have him spook, I realized how nervous I was and decided to take a deep breath and shake out my non-rein arm and he was immediately better. We came around the corner and there was nothing there to spook at. About 20 yards after that we were on the familiar track. Of course, when I'm expecting a spook my body tries to get ready to survive it, but the act of me tensing up makes him even more nervous. I KNOW this, I just sometimes need a reminder that he is NOT a spooky horse. But it's all relative. Max is a complete angel. His girls react any time he moves a muscle when standing ground tied. Compared to Junior, Max is a marble statue. Compared to other horses I've worked with, Junior is a marble statue. Because of how long it took him to acclimate to the farm I worry about taking him to shows. Will he freak out at a show grounds? I think the moment today that I took a breath and he followed suit was a good indication of how he'll be on a grounds. BUT, I am the Overanxious Horse Owner after all. What would this blog be about if I took everything in stride?


  1. Well done! You must have been very proud of your self and your brave boy. Maybe you could keep trying to go for those walks after your ride so you relax more and so does he. It would be a lovely way to cool him down! I am sure you will both be fine at your first show. Are you able to take him to one where you don't compete? Just let him take everything in and maybe ride him in the warm up area?

  2. "I caught myself being more comfortable at the lope than I had felt in a while"

    What a great feeling - sounds like you had a great ride! Must be nice to get outside the arena for a little hack. I'm hoping to start doing that soon.

    The whole breathing thing is hard for me - I catch myself being all uptight and such - need to remember to breathe!

  3. The first show we are going to is right in the same town. We'll haul in on Friday night, all day Saturday is a youth clinic so we can spend the day exploring and getting used to the grounds. Sunday is the actual show so he gets two nights there on the show grounds. We're hoping that'll be enough to get him to relax and go to work. He's been hauled to a show before and I was told he was fine. He's also been hauled to trail rides before. If he's not "ready" for the ring we will scratch but they also have adult walk-trot classes and I'm fairly confident we'll at least be able to do that.

    I WILL be using that trail more now that I know it's there!