Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And so it goes

Riding Aruba has gotten away from me. The last time I rode her, she was in heat and there were a lot of things going against us. Overall, it didn't go so well.

I hadn't been on her in a while so I lunged her first to get all of the 'bugs' out. At one point she ripped the rope out of my hands and trotted along the fenceline towards the back of the pasture with the cows.  I grumbled and swore under my breath at her and after catching her and bringing her back up front to try again- she was running around like a maniac. Fine. Do it now, not when I get on you...

We did a bit of work and all things considered- when it came time to get on, I left the spurs off. Knowing her attitude, knowing mine and knowing how things were going already, I didn't want to get into a battle of wills and ruin what we had so far. We went to work, bending, circles, relax and walk with your head down and so far so good. When we moved on to trot work, a few times she protested and almost bounced into a canter for a stride or two as she threw her head and acted pissy.

Fine, you want to canter? Why not? So I asked her several times to pick up a canter and got a really fast trot instead. Once in a while I got a stride of canter, then back to the trot. I tried the other direction, maybe it was easier for her. Same thing and no dice. A stride or two here and there, but not much canter and heaven forbid I say anything. That was grounds for stopping altogether.  We worked at it for a while and made very little progress. Apparently she isn't ready, wasn't in the mood or both, so after another attempt with several strides, I kept my mouth shut while she did it, let her stop and started cooling her out.

Suddenly she noticed the horse eating monster laying by the fence. Surely it was ready to pounce at any given moment. Those heavy chunks of powerpole are mighty agile that way you know, and she was not going near it.  And in my mind, there were three words to answer that. Yes You Are!  Ok so another three word phrase also went through my mind before that one, and those who know me well have probably heard it or said it themselves too...

It was at times, a serious battle of wills. Aruba was not going to stand still and face off with that big log and I was not going to let her turn away from it. She did not want to face it and in her mind, certainly wasn't getting any closer to it, let alone putting her nose down to sniff it. Every time she tried moving off one way or the other, I turned her right back around to face the log. I only let up and let her stand if she was facing the log. When I asked her to move forward towards it, she tried turning away and moving off quickly, but each time I used my reins, legs or both to divert the energy and put her right back in front of the damn log.

What was supposed to have been relaxing, cooling out work had gone out the window and here we were stuck in the middle of No I won't vs. Oh yes you will! Whenever Aruba stopped fussing and stood facing the log, I let her relax a few seconds and praised her. Each time I pushed her forward towards it and she tried turning away, the work and moving around and finally facing it to stop and stand had gotten us closer to the log than she had realized.

Curiosity was setting in and getting the best of her. Now that she was closer to the damn log, she wanted to know what it was. She still didn't want to go near it, but now it peaked her interest. I would ask for a step forward, closer to the log and she would take it, but then hesitated. She didn't know whether to stick around, try to get closer or get outta there. Since getting away from the log hadn't done her any good so far, she stayed put still looking at the log. I praised her for it. She was close and it wasn't hurting her, let alone torturing her like she may have thought. It hadn't even moved. You could almost see the wheels turning in her mind.

Slowly, one step at a time, we got closer to the log. She was glad when I asked her to move and she took one step, that I asked her to stop. Slowly we crept closer and closer to the log. She still didn't trust it, didn't like being that close to it, but was also curious about it and wanted to know what it was. Finally we were within range and she dropped her head, putting her nose close to the log. I praised her to let her know she was ok, but she was on alert. She sniffed it gingerly before raising her head and trying to move away from it. I held her in place and then when I asked her to turn away from it, I allowed her to move off. We circled around and came back at it from the other direction.

Aruba hesitated, but slowly crept towards the log, dropped her head to sniff it again and decided it was still scary, but ok for now. Now we could stop working. Now I could cool her out and put her away.  Now she was probably really, really glad to have me dismount and lead her in... lol


  1. SOunds like a lesson in one thing may not have gone well, but you accomplished a lot in the end. And you are right, the 3 words that popped into my mind were not what you typed! LOL but t here is nothing for it , you gotta get it sorted out once it starts

  2. Trax does that to me sometimes. I used to try to urge him one step at a time, but now I don't bother. I take him far away from it, letting him think he is getting his way. Then I work his butt off with his least favorite thing in the world, serpentine's. When he is ready for a break we go to the object and we rest without even paying any attention to it at all. Then we go back to work, for a while, and then go back to the object just a tad closer. Usually after 4 times or so, he can't wait to get close to that object.

    Not sure if that would work on Aruba, but it sure works on him.

    I agree with FV, it may not be what you planned on working on, but a good lesson was learned anyway and that is always good.