Monday, March 16, 2015

Four more days....

I really wanted to do a nice trot workout today, but everything is still very wet and slushy. Too wet to even walk around the paddocks :( 

The outdoor
 Charlie came out to aid in my inspection of the outdoor and offer some kisses:
Whatcha doin mom?

Achilles soon joined us, vying for my attention. Sorry boys, no treats here, but you sure are cute!
Baby Face and The Beggar
Since the driveway and woods were clearly the only areas that promised anything resembling solid ground, I decided to warm up with Charlie doing our driveway routine, and then do a little exploring in the woods. 

Charlie was a little more anxious today than he has been. No surprise there; we saw at least two different herds of 4-6 deer in the first ten minutes. I really focused on keeping my hands and body relaxed but being as physically (and mentally!) confident as possible whenever he'd get quick or try to resist my leg or hands. I found that using a slightly driving seat and a giving rein to encourage forward movement in these instances really worked well, even though it might sound counterproductive for a quick horse. This made it so speeding up was no longer fun for Charlie, because it was now my idea rather than his, and he soon realized that whenever he tried to stop, he ended up doing more work (working walk). Once we had controlled energy, I started directing it using a series of walk-halt-walk transitions, with some backing up and a few series of serpentines. I needed to get Charlie more focused and nicely listening, especially to "whoa," if we were going in the woods. 

At one point, it was going well enough that I decided to try a small trot, but that brought Charlie right to the edge of what he could handle. I almost lost him mentally, but I held my leg constant and asked him to please trust me and hold it together for just a little bit (I swear I heard Guy McLean in my head: "It's ok, mate, I know you're uncomfortable, but you're doing so well! Can I just ask you for a tiny bit more? I know you can do it and I'm so proud...that'sa good boy!"). What do you know, after a dozen or so strides Charlie stopped tensing and resisting, and I so stopped asking and let him walk. Time for a (literal) change of scenery and mental stimulation: off to the woods!

I've never been on the trails back there, and you can't see them anyway with the snow, so we just followed the deer tracks around the small wooded area bordering the back of the property. It was fun. Charlie was a little anxious, but in an excited way and he held it together well, even when we reached the open field at the opposite end and encountered another herd of deer. I'm excited to try it back there again once the snow melts. Four more days until spring.....!


  1. This is great. He really does have an amazing trust in you and your honesty. Confidence is key! Even if you have to fake it ^.^

    1. I've never had a confidence problem before, but (maybe because I'm getting older and more breakable?) I'm now finding I have to fake it sometimes and rev myself up. All of my greatest rides have been when I just have this feeling like everything is going to be ok (even if the idea is stupid, like hopping on bareback and bridleless...) so the confidence thing DEFINITELY works. I've begun to realize that whenever Charlie isn't feeling "right" it's usually because I'm not being the "right" kind of rider, usually because of something else on my mind. If I feel him acting up and then I get nervous, it makes it worse. But if I can realize it's related to me, talk myself out of it, and fake it enough to act bold again, it transitions directly back to him. Suddenly my real confidence comes back, and so does his, and we're doing awesome things :)

  2. Haha, Miles is such a beggar too! He makes the exact same face at me....

    1. Haha. Well as good a face Charlie has, Achilles takes the cake. The worst part is he has Cushings and can't have any of my normal treats. So he just gets lots of scratching :)