Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fear and training gaps

Things have been quiet around here lately.  I came off Confetti, I rode her 35 miles the following week and a half, and then I left the state for a week on a previously planned trip.  Luckily, a teen at the barn likes my horse and is competent enough to not only ride her while I was gone, but enjoy it!  I do think a week of doing (quite literally) nothing but a flight or two of stairs a day was probably good for my shoulder.  It was awful for my mental state and I'm glad to be home where the weather is above freezing.

This is the weather we've been having, while the rest of the US is getting snowstorms.

Shoulder likely has a mild separation.  Two and a half weeks post-fall, it's settled into mildly annoying.  I can't do all the things I normally would.  I'm not working through the pain; I'm backing off when it hurts.  This was without a doubt the worst fall I've had (and it really wasn't all that bad!) and the only one to really remind me that I cannot stick everything.

Confetti scares me a bit in the arena.  I know she's reactive and I know I cannot predict which way she'll spook.  I don't ride with enough consistency or purpose within the arbitrary figures of an arena to give her enough confidence and guidance when she loses it.  Until a few weeks ago, she had never scared me on the trail.  Sure, I've ridden a few bolts.  I won't let her trot down the biggest hill after I came off there, but that one is very location-specific and rooted in reality: it IS a big, steep hill.

I don't like fear.  It's no fun to deal with.  My usual reaction is to simply not deal with it.  Arena rides are few and far between.  Partly it's that we both find them boring; partly it's that I've come off several times in the arena and I don't trust her to keep her brain together.  I love our trail rides, though!  So I'm going to have to get over and and deal with the fear that she'll do this again.

Fetti bucked me off because she didn't want to rate politely.  I've spent so much time asking for forwards, and not enough asking her to slow down.  By ourselves, I don't ask as hard.  With a horse behind us, she feels their energy and wants to move more, and I feel the combined energy and want her moving less.  If we're behind another horse, she'll rate at their speed, occasionally a bit less but rarely for long.

I do not know how to teach that.  How do I take that energetic forwards and explain, politely, that I'd like a little less when I ask for it?  How do I balance the need for that forwards (which is not nearly the speed she gives me at rides) and conditioning with the ability to rate?

The pony and I get along in part because I can read her so clearly and because I am willing to compromise on my requests and not pick fights.  This is one we need to have.  She didn't rate well at Quicksilver.  If she doesn't rate well at home, it's not fair to expect that at rides.

I'm not sure how we'll manage it yet, but as soon as my shoulder heals enough I'm willing to take another fall, I anticipate a major pony-battle.  I have a note in to my trainer in hopes that she can come out and give me some ideas to work with (or better yet, hope on the pony herself). 

1 comment:

  1. Does it make any sense if I say that there’s no contradiction between your desire for forward and your desire for brakes? Balking and running off are both the same problem; the issue is rideability. And it is, unfortunately, true that being willing to negotiate with the horse – or worse, pony! – does tend to inspire the horse to think all cues are negotiable. Constant compromise isn’t a relationship; it’s a hostage situation.

    I’m a huge fan of horses that think for themselves and I’m even a fan of intelligent disobedience. But I figure the horse earns that privilege by demonstrating good judgment as well as an understanding of the aids and a willingness to play on my team. I am less of a fan of freelancing. *g*

    I know where I’d start, but mileage varies. Dropping your trainer a line sounds like a good first step. Good luck with it!