Friday, July 18, 2014

High-energy, full of spook

Blurry.  They don't pose well at speed.  ZOOM!  Sister in front, Confetti behind.
Confetti got Tuesday off of any real work after Fireworks.  I did have the presence of mind to turn her out in the arena with her sister.  She feels GOOD, y'all.

I took a friend's horse out on a trail ride instead and was reminded just how accustomed I am to the solid little Haflingers.  The lovely TWH has a ridiculous amount of neck and requires a completely different ride than the ponies.  He's not bad - he's just not one of the Haflinger herd.  Bigger horses used to be totally normal for me.  Now?  Anything 15 hands and up is 'big'.

A post-run, post-Fireworks 'how she looks' photo. No complaints here.

Thursday, I decided it was a great idea for our first Real Ride to also be my second time ever ponying her sister on the trail, without another rider and horse coming along!

Confetti is a very tolerant horse, you guys.  I haven't completely figured out this whole ponying thing yet.  My leg cues are off, my rein cues are confused, and I was mostly riding her with one hand versus my normal two.  Add to that a very forwards horse (Fetti) who hadn't been worked in a few days, thus also very reactive..

..and on our way towards a campground, Confetti flat-out refused to go forwards.  We've had problems in this particular spot before.  The campground is off to the left of the trail, with some brush in the way, but it's still plenty visible.  There are frequently tents, children, barbeques, you name it.  It can be busy over there.  Probably more importantly, we've had encounters here with dogs charging out of the campground through the brush towards the horses.  Confetti quit near here a few months back and threatened to spin and run even before we got right by the campground, and she has wary eyes and ears on it every time we go past it now.

With another rider, this isn't so bad.  It still really, really sucks, but the other horse can go in front, we can follow, her brain stays somewhat intact.  When I'm ponying another horse?  It really, really, really sucks.  She refused to move forwards on the trail.  I waited.  She still refused, and in fact kept giving the 'backwards' answer.  I hate that.  I am also not capable of efficiently schooling my horse through problems when there is another horse on the end of a line, and pushing the issue was likely to result in 'Fetti spinning and running.. which would almost certainly cause the second horse to follow.. which was a situation to be avoided at any cost.

I got off and walked, and swore, and walked, and smacked the stupid horse when she went for grass. If you're really stressed, just walk damnit. Walking two horses on a not-quite-singletrack sand trail is especially challenging when the line on the second horse barely reaches to the first horse's nose, and the first horse has no particular interest in moving forwards more than two steps at a time.  We did make it past the campground, and I did eventually get back on the horse and reorganized, but argh

It was actually quite uneventful after that.  The girls get along well enough that it was just me figuring things out and keeping noses in appropriate places.  Again: second time ever ponying off 'Fetti on the trail!  We trotted most of our usual trotting-sections, walked all the downhills, slowed down on and off for me to get my act together.  Overall, quite pleasant, and a reasonable pace all things considered.

Still.  If this becomes a consistent issue and I can reliably replicate it?  I am going to have a trainer out.  This is the same behavior that came up with the downed tree where we spent 20 minutes sidepassing and backing up and going forwards and backing up.  It's not okay, and it's not something I'm having much success fixing on my own.

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