For the first time since last fall, I took Faxx for a lesson. He’s still a bit out of shape, but you have to start somewhere. It was very windy, and there was heavy construction equipment working on the property behind Marie’s arena. Faxx was very looky, but one advantage of riding him in the field is I have gotten a lot more confident about saying “cut it out” and kicking him forward. His major problem is that he is falling right both directions. It takes an amazing amount of right rein going to the outside to keep him from ‘falling out’ and a lot of leg going to the right. I can feel the falling out the shoulder going to the left, but not so much the leaning on the leg going right. To me it just feels like he does not want to bend right – but I could not accurately diagnose the reason.
We did some lateral work, which is the main thing I wanted help with. To my surprise, he CAN do haunches in, even though at home I didn’t think we were doing very good ones. Shoulder in to the right was not bad. Shoulder in to the left? That’s where Faxx hit the brakes. When he does not want to do something – he quits going forward. Majorly. As in, the next step would be backing up, or a rear. I need to nip that in the bud now. Interestingly enough, when Faeryn ‘hit the wall’ during travers, her reaction was to canter forward to get out of the work. Interesting to see the different methods that horses display evasions. Several times, in the middle of asking him to do something – I had to abandon ship and just aggressively send him forward. As Marie said, he is in his ‘adolescent’ years now. It probably does not help that he’s been mostly lazing around doing nothiing more strenuous than eating the past few months. He’s gotten used to that cushy lifestyle and isn’t really sure he wants to rejoin the ‘working class.’ Plus, even when he was being ridden, he was not being asked to do anything that was especially hard for him. Since we were showing, and in the ‘hunt’ for national awards, I did not want to ‘rock the boat.’ This year, all bets are off. The # priority is not showing – but moving up. I’m not even convinced I will go to Arab Regionals this year. I am definitely not showing him Training level for the third year in a row. And if he is not super competitive at First, I’m not going to spend the $1500 (and 3 days of vacation)or so it will cost to go. Faxx is basically a good-natured, obedient guy, so I am sure he will get ‘used’ to the idea of the increased expectations and get with the program.
Faeryn is a bit like the girl in this old nursery rhyme. (Although in this instance, it’s a forelock.)
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.
Interestingly, my own mother used to describe me in the above manner.
99% of Faeryn’s “horrid” behavior is on the ground.
Her latest transgression involved pulling away from me while I was trying to load her in the trailer Sunday at 6:45 a.m. to go to a scholing show. Her issue here is not really trailer loading. It’s leaving her buddies. She is incredibly herd-bound.
There is nothing quite so loud as the sound of shod hooves on an asphalt road in the very quiet, still early morning. She went flying down the driveway, and hooked a right toward the major road. Then Faxx whinned. I thought she would fly back into the driveway, but no. She slammed on the brakes, but then took off the opposite direction, down toward the dead end, lead rope flying behind her. I was really hoping she would not run to the very end of the road, since it’s probably a mile, and I was counting down the minutes until we would be dangerously ‘behind schedule’ for the show over an hour away.
Thankfully, she turned into my next door neighbor’s driveway and I was hoping she would run back to the barn to be near the horses – but no, she proceeded to sashay hither and yon all around the large front yard. Fortunately it’s very dry, so I doubt she left any divots. We played a merry game of chase for another minute or two until her stomach won over her newfound freedom and she stopped to graze. I marched her home, dared her to not get in the trailer (and, in fact, she launched herself into it) and I went to let the other horses out. I was very glad they had not been in the pasture when she made her escape – that would have been mass chaos. Nevertheless, it was evident from the state of Fling – and her stall – that she’d spent the 10 minutes or so it took me to capture Faeryn spinning in her stall. She was sweaty and the stall was a mess. I got her and Faxx out with no further excitement, and since I’d actually been running a little early (a very rare happenstance!) I was actually still ‘on time.’ NOTE to self: Put chain on Faeryn for trailer loading in future. It’s something I had been doing – she had developed this nasty little trick of whipping her head around to the right – completely throwing me off balance and taking away any leverage I might have to control her. But I was in a hurry and just forgot that little trick of hers. It’s the first time she’s been successful in actually getting away from me though. So knowing Faeryn, that increases the liklihood that she will try it again. 😉
Once we got to the show, she was good as gold. Stood calmly tied to the trailer and only got mildly agitated when the horse parked next to her left. She warmed up well, despite getting a mild case of the horrors at several large packs of bike riders who zoomed by. Our first test was a bit ragged. Perhaps the long- term effects of having no proper arena to school in – with letters marked at correct distances, etc. is starting to catch up to us. She also wanted to ‘die’ during the test. That’s something I have no experienced before. I like my horses very forward and ‘self-propelled.’ I HATE to have to ‘kick’ a horse to make it go forward. But that’s what I had to do in part of the trot work. Actually, instead of kick, I tapped her with the whip. There is no worse feeling in the world ( to me anyway) than feeling you have ‘no horse’ under you. Sometimes it’s because they get behind the leg – sometimes it’s just because they’re lazy. I was fairly concerned about this because the medium/extended gaits call for a tremendous amount of energy and I hate the thought Faeryn does not have that energy on her own and that I will have to work at ‘creating’ it. In that regard, Fling has really spoiled me.
I had about 40 minutes between rides and didn’t even try to check for results in between. I took her back to the trailer, loosened the girth and tried (unsuccessfully) to get her to drink.
I thought our second ride was better, even though it was the more difficult test. She felt more ‘together’ and more forward.
This is our area’s highest scoring judge – and when I checked the results, we’d won both our classes, with scores very close together – 74.838 and 75.172. We need to polish our test-riding skills a bit before she’s ready for recognized shows – and the number one thing to work on is our trot and canter lengthenings.