Monday, October 3, 2016

What plan?

Lately I have been guilty of way overestimating my abilities to execute to a plan and getting increasingly frustrated when I fail.

Actually it is partly that my plan was just poor.  I keep thinking I can somehow stay riding fit and ride 4-5 times a week when I have business trips and work obligations and that is just.  Not.  Reality.

My happy little denial train derailed after we got back from Iceland.  I had a week in town, then a 2 night business trip.  I was prepared to get a bunch of successful riding in.  Except I have been traveling nearly non stop and my riding has suffered accordingly, especially my base fitness and ability to have stamina at Denver's elevation.  

As another memo to future me, when you are away frequently, real life adult things back up in the queue and you spend a good portion of your free time catching up on those, and not playing at the barn like you want to.  

So I have been working on being grateful for the time I do have, EXTRA grateful my horse was in training through the end of September (past me knew this shit would all melt down spectacularly, it appears), and trying to be kind to myself when I can't perform to the level I think I should be at.

Luckily, Odin is a wonderful creature who besides his continuing propensity for self destruction - most recently removing most of the fur and skin from his inner right hind while I was in Iceland - is totally amenable to a changing plan and is happy to work at whatever pace I can manage.  

The trainers have been working on next level basics - getting some lift through the withers, stretching over/using his back, not leaning or bracing, lateral movements.  And we are finally getting a canter to work with too.

Since the horse show, we appeared to have some regression on lead swapping.  He was getting incredibly swap happy  - sometimes just in back, sometimes a full, but could barely canter a circle without one or the other or both.  R2 has been putting a lot of time and effort into this.

It was frustrating for me to watch her canter him around and have him hold a lead and then hop on and get 20 feet with a swap.  The main problem is outside aids.  When I go to use the outside rein to straighten him or balance him - swap.  Every time.  R2 has had trouble explaining everything she does, but it amounts to using more inside rein than outside rein and holding outside leg.  If any other bloggers have tips on helping a horse hold a lead, feel free to throw them my way, sometimes hearing things multiple different ways is very useful.

But what we mostly do is circle, and after a few laps of holding the lead on a 20m circle, let it gradually get bigger.  That is hard as hell, horse still needs a lot of help to maintain a good canter and I have to not fuck it up so he doesn't swap, and this requires plenty of muscle control.  I am usually dying quickly.  Improvement has been hugely noticeable but I wouldn't call it solved and some days are better than others.

Side note-  he has been evaluated by the vet and there are no signs of this being anything beyond balance/strength/baby horse stuff.  

On the happiest note of all, we have been doing little grids and I love feeling him problem solve them.  He is still figuring out how to get through them, but he attacks it every time and continues to build confidence and ability.  It is even more great since it doesn't rely over much on me, I just get to sit chilly and let him figure it out.

It might be a weird decision, but I pulled him from most training for the time being.  This has been planned for awhile and it is probably not the best timing but I think it needed to happen.  Both to give myself a financial break (I need it) and to push myself to ride more and get stronger.  I expect to put him back in training this winter for at least a bit more (or sooner if I panic), but after starting to feel a little better the last few weeks, I think it is time for the human in this duo to step up more.  


  1. I'm far from an expert so I take this with a boulder of salt. It sounds like you really need to keep him bent to prevent the swap. If he gets straight he he has the opportunity swap, so I would really focus on my inside leg and keeping that active when you go to half halt. And maybe ask him to flex to the inside as you ask for the half halt.

    It is so hard to travel and maintain your riding fitness.

  2. Ugh I feel ya on the work thing interfering with pony time. I managed to squeeze the new horse into a relatively quiet work period (intentionally) so we could do a little teamwork building at the outset... But a busier season looms! Anyway tho good for you for just being happy to get out there and work on the horse that presents itself!

    1. Work travel, everyone thinks it's glamorous but really it just messes with my schedule :P

  3. That's the thing with young/unfit horses, is they just need a lot of time to build strength and it takes a long ass time, much longer usually than our brains can think.

    1. This is so true. It just takes much longer than you want to think it will!