Monday, May 9, 2011


I decided today to start a new routine--a schedule of sorts--to get my horses worked and hopefully make some much-needed progress. There is always so much going on and so much to do around the farm that I have done a lousy job prioritizing (is that a word?) training my horses. I tend to their needs--food, water, shelter, care, and comfort--but that's it. If I am able to ride Paula more than twice a month here lately I feel lucky.

But no more! Today we begin anew (and we'll then see how far I get...).

Just for kicks and giggles, I'll document the day's events backwards. This evening I rode Paula and tried out a new bridle as an experiment, and to my great surprise (and relief) it worked!

To make a long story short:
(1) Pre-#1 bridle break, Paula did great.
(2) 1st bridle broke the day I got laid off. I shouldn't have been riding, but in an attempt to get my mind off the situation, I saddled up, got on, then dropped the rein. Paula stepped on it, and the headstall snapped. I got off and put her up, then felt terrible the rest of the day.

Isn't that a lovely story?

(3) Tried cheapy second bridle the day before the clinic = disaster.
(3a) Clinic = disaster part two. And part three.
(4) Paula was not happy. I was not happy.
(5) I ordered a different bridle.
(6) Today, tried 3rd bridle that is better made and fits her face better.
(7) Paula returns to greatness.

I'm not saying it's totally the bridle, but I do think this has to be more than coincidence. Now that second bridle wasn't awful. It seemed to fit fine and there was never any indication, other than her actions, that it was uncomfortable in anyway. Perhaps it is psychological, but at this point I don't care. Save for some lost pride, I feel like we're finally back on track.

Earlier in the day I worked Fabian.

I decided to really move forward with Fabian and ask a lot more out of him than I usually do. Thankfully he was up to the challenge.

I started with fitting him with a bit and bridle, sans reins. I don't plan on hooking anything up to it yet, but I do want him to start learning how to carry it and the feel of it while I work him.

Then I decided to use a longeline while longing him in the roundpen. See, Fabian is a horse with a lot of go and not a lot of whoa, so our longeing usually consists of him running circles around me, in the figurative as well as literal sense. Our past lessons have consisted of strictly confidence-building, but now I'm going to change things up and ask him to do exactly (and only) what I ask. When he doesn't, he has to learn how to get into trouble, take it like a man, and then get back to work. Mr. Sensitive needs to toughen up a bit and I am happy to report he was ready for it. I used the longeline to get his attention more than once, to do only what I asked, when I asked for it. It only took a few minutes for him to get the idea and he was all business.

I love a horse with a great mind.

We did an exercise I learned at the clinic (although Mr Smarty Pants figured out a way around it that I would have never thought to ask at the clinic, so I will have to remember to bring it up at the next one) and then we drove. Again, I was more strict, asking him to stay stopped and be patient when I asked for the "whoa."

I didn't realize, until I went to put Fabian up, that I had never given him a bath, so after our cool-down I decided that on this nearly 100-degree day, after a tough workout, it would probably feel pretty good to get a bath. Fabian was startled at first but to his credit didn't move even one foot a single inch. Soon he was enjoying the nice cool water and of course had a good roll in the sand afterward.

I didn't get to Betty today as I forgot my sunscreen and now closely resemble a lobster. I have been doing very large, loud movements around her for the past few days, though, every chance I get. The girl is jumpy, and even if I look like a loon, I'm going to make she she gets over it.

Swallowing my pride hasn't given me (much) indigestion...yet,

1 comment:

Darlene said...

HA! Good for you! It has LONG been my contention and my experience that the crazier you act around a horse (or dog) the more quiet they become. Whether they get more broke or are just quiet because they need to protect that "crazy woman" they live with from more fits, I dont know!! LOL But who cares, it does work!