Sunday, April 5, 2009

More on the transition.

My last post ended up focusing on the Western/English transition so I left out the rest of my long Saturday at the barn. It was Spring Clean-up Day and some of the lesson kids were there to help. I like to help so I showed up, too...armed with coffee and OJ. The kids were set the task of cleaning the lesson tack and I volunteered myself to help KAT clip all the lesson horses. Most of the horses just stayed gound tied and I was not really necessary but it gave me a chance to ask lots of questions. A few of the horses were mostly good and just required a little reminder to stand or to stop leaning away from the clippers. And then there was Scooter. Scooter is new and this was the first time he'd been clipped at this barn. He'd certainly been clipped in the past since KAT knows his pre-barn history, or at least most of it. The minute she started to clip him he went ape shit and pulled me across the barn. I brought him back and he went nuts again, knocking over a tack box (and my OJ :( and most of our tools) so KAT took him from me and reminded him how a gentleman behaves. He was clearly not afraid of the clippers he was just being a jerk and not having any manners. KAT ended up having to twitch him. I've never seen it done before and I had to ask what the desired outcome is supposed to be, which when put nicely is that it releases endorphines which calms the horse. Put it a not-so-nice way is that the twitch causes intense pain and the intense pain is what releases the endorpines. He was no worse for wear by the end of it and it seemed he just needed a reminder that he is not allowed to drag people around. It was very interesting to see how KAT handled each horse. She knew exactly how to deal with each lesson horse. Some she just dropped the rope and went to work, some got a chain over their nose, and two of the mares received private sessions in their stalls. I was told one of them, Lori, would have to "have a conversation" about the clippers which amounted to KAT spending 15-20 minutes convincing Lori that the clippers was not going to eat her and when I walked by again (went off to check on my own horse) Lori was standing ground-tied in her stall with her head relaxed and having her ears clipped, clearly no longer worried. That conversation has to happen each time it's clipping time, but it was relatively untraumatic. The biggest thing I got out of this day was added experience and another blessing to count. I don't think I could cope with a horse that needed to be twitched to clip, or twitched to do anything. Talk about a way to set my anxiety off! I am once again very thankful that Junior is not that poorly behaved.

It was still too wet to let Jr. out which I know is tough for him. I spent some extra time grooming him and I experimented with some mane pulling. It was much easier than I thought it would be, the hair came right out! I took out a ton of hair but it hardly made a difference. He did not mind the procedure at all and stood really well. I will keep doing bits at a time until it starts laying flatter. He's just got so much hair that it will help to get rid of some.

The ride was so-so. Started well again and then went to hell. He actually bucked. He wasn't completely serious about it, but it was a real buck. He was not taking the lope-off well from halt, walk, or trot. He did all kinds of evasive maneuvers including spinning, side passing, rushing, and of course the one buck. It took ages to get him to calmly lope off and when he started doing it correctly and loping slowly and evenly I praised him and moved on to something easier. He's still sticking his nose out at the halt but the back on the rail was better than Friday. I guess I would call him fussy. Didn't want to do some stuff even though I know he knows how. I don't know what to think of all of that. I feel like he got worse when I started doing the transition. Or I suppose I should say "I" got worse. I'll be the first to admit it's probably something I did/am doing that makes him act like this. I just don't know what that is.

I'm about "this close" to saying Western Only at this May show. There are more shows to test our English skills. I feel like I'm asking too much of him (and especially ME) for our first show only 8 months into our training. 8 months would be a long time if I were a pro, but I'm not. He's had maybe about 15-20 rides on him by KAT in that time and I find that we digress quickly after she's been riding him so I'm sure I've un-did a lot that was done in those rides.

On a happier note I played around with my sewing room today starting to make room to work on my show blouse. I did some stitching tests and laundered the fabric samples together and it came out great. I hope to cut it out next weekend and assemble it the next week. I need to design the yoke before I cut, though. THIS is the kind of stuff I'm good at.

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