Thursday 14 March 2019

Role Reversals

I think someone has switched my horses. The white-gray one has been the crazy one, and the gray-gray one has been steady and reliable.

My work schedule usually has me off on Wednesday and Sunday. I actually like this schedule, as I like having a weekday free. On days when I don't have to get up early the next day (generally Tuesday's and Saturday's) I try to ride both horses after work. Since I usually don't get out to the barn in the evening until close to 7pm, that means that I don't leave the barn until somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00 pm on those nights.

This Tuesday was one of those nights. Which also means I slept in later than I usually do and didn't get out to the barn as early as I wanted to on Wednesday.

I didn't start my ride on Phantom on Tuesday night until about 9:30 and finished at 10:15. She was pretty good - forward, but not ridiculous. Wednesday afternoon's ride, however, was ridiculous.

She decided that she had two speeds - fast and faster. And I couldn't convince her otherwise. Part of the reason was that the big overhead door was open for the first time this year. I think that the main reason though was because it was approaching dinnertime, and for a horse who is perpetually starving to death because she is in the diet pen, dinner is a big deal.
Phantom already has her sunglasses on. The sun has been very bright this week!
After we zoomed around the arena I tried to take her for a walk down the driveway to cool out. We made it about halfway down - at which point she stopped and stared at someone walking dogs across the field. I turned her back to the barn, and she shortened her neck and jogged the rest of the way. Ugh.

She's usually the reliable one, who is in no rush on a long rein when we go for a walk. I think that her stomach was making the decisions on this day.

I had a pretty good ride on Cisco on Tuesday. I rode during a beginner jump lesson, so I couldn't really school as much as I would have liked. But there were some good things that he did - the pre-ride groundwork seemed to relax him, he wasn't spooky at the scary end, he stood wonderfully at the mounting block, and we got the right lead two out of three times.

And we jumped this.

Yeah, it's tiny. But it had the flower boxes under it, and he was super about going over it.
And then we soared over this one.
On Wednesday, I also got stuck riding during a jump lesson. This time I was stuck with staying on the track due to the pattern that the group was riding that took up most of the center of the arena, and then someone was lunging in the free end.

Again, the scary end wasn't scary. So I decided to see if I could school the corners.

We did the very simple (but very effective) exercise of trotting straight into the corner and halting, waiting for a couple of seconds, then put on the correct turning aids and turn out the corner, pick up the trot again, and repeat in every corner. Works great for horses who want to drop the inside shoulder and think that they get to decide where to make the turn.

I've done this exercise before in the easy corners, but I don't know that I've ever been able to reliably get into the scary end corners to school down there. We tend to go around that short end of the arena with his nose to the outside as he ignores my inside leg and bulges the shoulder to the inside. I want to fix this, and figure this exercise will be the fastest way to fix it.

It totally did.

He was super about going into the corners - no hesitation, and was able to relax at the halt. When I could ride a deep corner, we stayed right out on the track with the correct inside bend, and this set us up for being straight(ish) down the long side.

He's also been a bit behind my leg as of late, so next we worked on just big trots down the long side. Halt in the corner, an attempt at a rollback turn, and trot forward to the next corner. I wanted to feel him taking me down the long side, instead of me pushing him down the long side. It wasn't necessarily a pretty trot, but I started to get that feeling.

Throughout this, we were getting a bit of a warm-up ring feel in the arena. The lesson riders were riding a diamond shape, all three of them at the same time. There were moments as I was trotting down the long side that a row of horses were cantering diagonally towards us and bouncing off the track just in front of us. I could feel some hesitation from Cisco, but he kept going forward.  This was a good experience for him, as I'm pretty sure his first warm-up ring will be a little overwhelming.

It was not going to work out for me to canter, so I figured I would also take him out for a walk outside. Somewhat surprisingly, he was super chill about it. I thought that he would do a bunch of stopping and staring, but he walked out on a loose rein, happily looking around. He didn't even spook at the signs at the end of the driveway that he spooked at every time we passed them last year.

I was so confident in how relaxed he was that I even brought out my phone for a between the ears video.

A total role reversal from my horses today. Phantom is generally the steady, reliable one, and Cisco is the anxious fretter. It's kind of nice that they changed, but I sure hope Phantom changes back quickly! Cisco can stay this way forever please and thank you!


  1. Phantom will settle down to her quiet self I’m sure. That was great work with Cisco.

    1. She will eventually. Super happy with Cisco this week!