Faeryn is most definitely the ‘wild child’ of my three. She is the ‘hottest’– meaning most reactive to external stimuli — on top her natural ‘drama queen’ tendencies. 😉 And I say that very fondly. This is the horse that, as a 2 year old (probably the age most equivalent to that package of raging hormones known as a teenage girl) laid on the ground MOANING out loud when she had a mild illness. You really would have thought (and I did, having little experience yet with her histrionics) that she was dying. And when I called my vet (who she had JUST visited fo meds for her mild virus) that is what I said to him – “Is she DYING? Do I need to take her someplace else to see if there’s something else seriously wrong with her?” He was as baffled as I was, since, when he examined her, her bodily parameters – temp, respiration, heartbeat, etc. – showed NO indication of severe pain, serious illness, etc. Yet there she laid, flat out on the ground, audibly moaning and groaning as in some sort of death throes. So we did, indeed, take her to a second vet – who, with the help of an endoscope, diagnosed an ulcer, brought on from her not eating for 24 hours – albeit an ulcer so small it was almost undetectable. And that is how we learned to take Faeryn’s dramatic performances with a big dose of salt. 😉 She is sort of the same way under saddle. A loose dog, other horses running, loud music – any of these are enough to turn Faeryn into a whirling blur of equine insecurity. It’s just my job to stay on top of her long enough for her to ‘get over it’ — which she does, usually very quickly, and then she goes about her business like nothing untoward had ever happened.
And such was the case yesterday when I rode her in the field. This was her most dramatic performance to date – first, two loose dogs appeared from behind us, and although I hollered at them and they turned around and left before they even broached our property, that was enough to send Faeryn into a tailspin – literally. Then, when the other horses got excited and started running around at the sound of my hollering at the dogs, it was katy bar the door. The good thing is, nothing Faeryn does really ever scares me. If it had been Faxx spinning in circles, backing up, leaping around, etc., I would have had been petrified. I think it’s something to do with owning and riding Faeryn’s mother for 18 years, and riding big sis Fling for 7 years now. Neither of them either dumped me. Faeryn has dumped me twice! Neither unplanned dismount happened in a dramatic fashion – she got me launched each time while we were just doodling around at a walk when something spooked her and she jumped. So, yesterday, I just took the inside rein short to turn her in a circle with one hand, and grabbed the outside rein and the bucking strap in the other and just sat up an rode it out. She was very mad that she could not bolt in a straight line toward her buddies at the far side of the ten acres. And there is a part of me that always marvels at how animated and wonderful her gaits get when she is in full-blown panic mode. 😉
When she calmed down yesterday I got wonderful canter – very balanced and in super self carriage. The key to her canter is to keep her bent around my inside leg and keeping her inside hind leg active. If I let up with my inside leg aids pushing her to outside rein, her natural reaction is to throw her shoulder to the inside and her haunches out, which makes her canter almost unrideable – it feels like trying to ride a jackhammer. Her lateral work is naturally quite good – I ride her in shoulder fore almost all of the time, but she can also do a proper shoulder-in quite well – and her leg yields are quite good. Still working on lengthening the stride at the canter. She does that much better out in the field than in the arena.