Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Status Report

We're starting to find the rhythm of things.  I think that for now we're averaging about 2 or 3 good rides for each time I fall off which I'm OK with.  I've reached my 7 falls and am finding it harder to have a sense of humour about it, but hopefully my body's learning its lesson and at some point will get better at staying on.  The other day I fell a little harder than normal and really didn't want to get back on, luckily my fabulous instructor insisted that I climb back up there and handwalked us around for a few minutes until my legs stopped shaking.  But the other day we had another terrific lesson walking over cavaletti and threading in and out of jump standard poles at the trot.  So on the one hand I see all the bruises and back pain in my future and cringe and on the other hand, I enjoy riding Starbuck more and more every day.  I'm also feeling more confident about the scary side of the arena, we've been doing all our longeing there lately and she's starting to get much more blasé about it.  When I longe her in her halter I try to let her graze there for a few minutes at the end for a reward, so she'll see it's really a nice place if she'll give it half a chance.

I've also bumped up the amount of time at the trot I ask her for while longeing or roundpenning, making her stick it out for at least three and working up to five minutes at a time.  It's interesting for me to watch for her rebellious moments which almost always pop up when we're doing groundwork, mostly right when she starts to get a little tired or when I'm asking her to challenge herself mentally.  She does some serious teenager head tosses and speeds up and in the roundpen sometimes even gives a little kick or buck, but as long as I wait it out and ask her to change directions a few times she calms right down.

Also, giving her those massages with long heavy strokes along her spine that the vet recommended is definitely having a beneficial effect!  Where she used to move away from the saddleblanket when I would go to put it on her she now stands still and doesn't try to avoid it, and she also moves around a lot less when I cinch her up.  I think it improves our relationship too and am taking advantage of her being relaxed after her massage to really get her sacked out in the areas where she's always been a little more sensitive - udders, mouth and nose.

At any rate yesterday I dewormed her (I'm a little late this time but have decided to do it once every 4 months instead of every 3 months) - she behaved really well even though this time the worming paste was pretty nasty smelling.  And for a reward I broke out the new hay net I bought her and stuffed it with oat hay, wild fennel sprigs, freshly sickled grass (yes, we have sickles at my barn to take advantage of those hard-to-graze spots) and carob beans (there are a lot of carob trees around here and carob beans are a frequent horse treat).  She absolutely loved it and I think she had as much fun swinging the net around as she did trying to get at the yummy stuff hidden among the hay.

I have another lesson this afternoon, we'll see how it goes!

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