Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Learning

I almost had a really bad night. A night to rival the one a week or so ago. A night where I get frustrated and angry and take it out on my horse.

Almost.

It started with Ashke not wanting to give to pressure. Any pressure tonight made him want to stop moving. At any gait. A firm outside rein made him bend to the outside. Asking him to soften to the inside made him turn in a tight circle. Asking him to trot in rhythm made him jig and try to pop up into a canter.

So very different from our ride on Saturday.

I was getting more and more frustrated when N entered the arena with Cali. She could tell I was having a hard time and asked me what was going on. It just made me more frustrated. I could tell I was going to lose it. I realized I needed to do something different. I got off and went to get the lunge line and side reins. I needed to get Ashke in the headset for what I wanted him to do.

The walk from the indoor arena to the grooming stall helped me calm down and refocus. Ashke is so sensitive to my mood and energy, that my being upset puts him on edge. It does not make things better. I got the reins and the lunge line and went back to the indoor arena. We worked on the side reins.

He did awesome. He even cantered to the left without cross cantering except for three strides and all I had to do was say, "No" and he broke for two steps to the trot and then picked up the correct lead again. After ten minutes of lunging I got back on.

He was much better. He gave me a great trot in both directions and we even managed to canter for several turns. I did realize that cantering when we are out on the trail hasn't done either of us any good. When I ask him for the canter we get really out of whack because he is anticipating that I am going to grab at his mouth and tell him to stop. I need to get him cantering and forward on a loose rein before asking him to canter with pressure.

N suggested doing a lunge line lesson, where I don't have to control him and can just figure out how to balance and ride. I talked to Cassandra about it before I left the barn. I think we are going to try one next Weds.

I was in tears. She was very supportive and encouraging and told me not to rush and not to give up. I asked her if I had to ride Ashke in a frame every time we rode, because I think tonight he was done. He just wanted to have a fun ride with me, with his head up and looking around. We didn't get out on the trail and he was missing it. Cassandra told me it was okay to let him have some time off - it wasn't going to ruin him and he might be even stronger the next time. That was good to hear.

Thursday night, my goal will be to get a decent canter/lope out of him without pulling on his mouth. I want him to know we can canter without him getting jammed or me getting scared. I want him to figure out he can canter without it being a dead run. We are going to work on the gait and then the collection.

His turn on the forehand and side pass was incredible. Turn on the haunches still needs a little work. He's getting there.


4 comments:

  1. YES! Way to take a moment to step back and "count to ten" for lack of a better term. I need to do that more, too. I get frustrated just like you with my guys. Agh. Just reading this post made those feelings of irritation and frustration well up inside me. I blame hormones for all of this. I wish we could just get to the barn and walk through some invisible fence that stripped us of our hormones/stresses/worries so that we could ALWAYS think clearly.

    I hope a little break helps Ashke clear his head so he can nail everything the next time out! You two will get it, I know it.

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  2. I agree on the hormone thing!! Ugh! Good job taking a break and getting yourself collected. :) I need to practice that.

    I just realized yesterday that Chrome cross canters sometimes. *pout* I hope it goes away as he builds strength. :)

    I don't blame Ashke for needing a break and wanting to be on the trail. I get that way too. Hopefully you guys can have a trail ride soon if the weather permits.

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  3. Good job fighting that frustration and getting the job done!

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  4. Great job on stepping back and giving both of you a break. I used to get this frustrated with my QH Cloud a lot. He was the first horse whom I decided to train for dressage, not knowing anything about the discipline myself. I took lessons but due to the setup at the barn at the time, had to take them at a dressage barn on "made" horses, so I didn't get to take lessons on him. He had amazing try, but he was an older gentleman and some things were very hard for him. I went through a lot of days where I got frustrated with him. He was a stoic boy, not like Lily who will tell me "You suck at communicating today! THIS is what you're telling me to do, THIS is what I'm gonna do!"

    He eventually got through to me though: they have bad days just like we do. And sometimes they need to do something else before they can do what we want. Sometimes their bodies just can't do it that day.

    My very last trail ride on Cloud happened because I let him choose. We had started our dressage exercises in the arena and I could tell he was just not feeling it. I stopped and dropped the reins. He looked over at the huge field next door (the barn adjoined a public field where we were allowed to ride). He walked over arena gate and I opened it for us. I left the reins on his neck and just sat there to see what he would do.

    He quite literally walked us over to the field next door. All on his own. We did a long warm-up where I asked him what gait I wanted but let him choose the frame he wanted to do it in (nose up and out, back hollowed. He was 18 and had arthritis in his hocks and one hip, too.) And then I knew when he said, "Ok, now I'm ready to do this your way." His head came down and he reached for the contact. And he gave me one of the best rides we ever had, in a correct frame, with no effort.

    Sometimes something has to change so that they can do what we want them to do, be it stopping and letting them warm up in a different way (not in a frame, on the lunge, on the trail) or just doing something entirely different this ride and revisiting your goals next ride. The lesson on the lunge is a great idea!! It will allow you to work on you without also having to simultaneously work on him. It's very hard trying to learn and teach your horse at the same time; sometimes we need to work on ourselves before we can continue making progress with our horse. You two will get it. Few things worth doing are ever easy. ;)

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