Sunday, June 6, 2010

Kiss that frog...

The garden toad is back.... Toe (who is fine from his mushroom ordeal) wants to kiss that frog....
Itty Bitty Opal Kitty thinks that is absolutely disgusting and must look away.

Speaking of frogs... my lesson with Rosso today was interesting. I asked Rex last time if she'd ride him so I could see what he looks like, get her impression etc.
I did NOT have to read any of my rider psychology books at breakfast this morning.... I did NOT have to go running down the driveway to exert the swirly twirly fear inside of me to get on him today...
I took Rosso up to Rex's, lunged him and got on. I walked all around and when I asked for a trot, he was being a big ol' butthead. Maybe he doesn't like working in the heat? Too bad, so sad.
Tho his butthole antics were making my legs a bit jello-y. I still stayed on and dealt...
Rex came out ready to hop on... I gladly let her drive...
At a walk he was fine. Well not "fine". But he wasn't being a big butthead. He was very against the aids and grabbing the left rein and being very stiff and very resistant.

Rex kept him at a walk for a while - working thru the resistance.
Then up to trot... where he wasn't "bad" but he wasn't even in the contact and not exactly bending or supple either. She kept him at the trot until he began trying.

I couldn't figure out the "action" setting on the camera so most pix were bad and blurry. Sorry~!
Anyway - when Rosso was being bad... she kept him forward... she was overbending him to the left since that is the rein he kept grabbing and trying to run thru.
Once he gave, she gave. If he tried to suck back, she gave him a big kick and his reaction was great - to go forward. He danced around - jigging. threatening, trying to suck back to get his way - she kept him forward, between her hands and her legs...
We had a discussion after he gave in and submitted. If your horse isn't on the aids at a walk... and you punch the gas... things are only going to escalate out of control.
This was my mistake when I brought Rosso home from The Cowboy trainer. He told me sometimes Rosso was like a pop bottle with too much fizz and I needed to let him go to get the energy out... when I tried this, I got dumped.
I'm not saying The Cowboy was wrong --- but he could recognize those times better than I could because he had more experience training young horses. So this is my mistake for not thinking things thru and blindly thinking that when Rosso was being bad, he needed to go, go, go and get some energy out.
When in fact... he needed more time on the aids until he was listening... then I could let him out more.
There was a really really great article in Dressage Today by Jennifer Baumbert who I clinic with when she comes out this way. Her article was about treating the symptom vs. the underlying issue.... like when a horse is overly spooky because his buddies are in the pasture screaming to him... or there is a scary bush... or the million other reasons horses spook.
She said the issue wasn't really the horse spooking but that your horse isn't really ON YOUR AIDS. You can't punish a horse for being a horse. They're gonna spook.... but if they are on the aids, they can be ridden more effectively.
I think this is what I learned today with Rosso. It was great watching Rex deal with him because truly, he was not dangerous. He did not buck. He did not bolt. He was having a tantrum and once she said, "No. We are doing it this way." He backed down. I saw it and know I could learn to deal with what he throws my way.... there wasn't anything awful about him.
No, I'm not taking him down the road anytime soon on a trail ride... but I am looking forward to learning. I'm looking forward to overcoming this and learning more about HOW to ride this young horse.... and that is good.
Rex and I also discussed how we don't think Rosso is truly spooking but that he simply doesn't want to do it and is using excuses... by acting afraid and acting spooky... he is trying to intimidate and bully to get out of his work. If he acts big and scary, maybe the work will stop.
Rex said he probably tried that with The Cowboy for about 3 seconds before he got his ass kicked... and I am not The Cowboy. It's o.k. - we'll get it figured out - the good thing is that the Shanster brain is returning!
(and now if I could just grow a pair... it's always been my issue... not being aggressive enough - and I don't mean over the top - but there are times you need to make something happen. I'll work on channelling that determination/aggression. Wish me luck! I'll keep you all posted ....)


Heather said...

Good for you and good for Rex! I loved reading this post! It is so, so incredibly hard to know what the right thing to do is in the right moment. I would love to read the article you talked about in DT! Sounds right up my alley! Congrats on starting to 'get it' with the stinker! Maybe you just needed to see the kinks worked out by someone else. I know it helps me to have someone on the ground to tell me exactly what to do while I am waiting out a tantrum. When to hold, when to push, when to take more, when to give...
Good for you!

Cheryl said...

What a challenge!!! Too bad there wasn't a horse language translating collar like the one that dog had in UP. Though even if there was sounds like Rosso wouldn't tell you directly what's really going on. But it does sound like you're getting closer and closer to figuring out the mystery of Rosso. Just think how you'll feel one day when all this is behind you...

Shanster said...

Heather - that and I needed to understand what was going on... I think now I know why I kept getting dumped... and that makes me feel better. shrug. funny brains. Yeah - Rex and I had a talk about how her experiences with a LOT of young horses lets her know what to do, when and recognize what is going on. I'm so glad I have her to help me thru it all!

Cheryl - challenge is right! That would be GREAT to have a collar like that for the red-headed boy! Yes, I hope to feel about him the same way I feel about Sera now! I did go thru a fear phase with Sera... it wasn't as strong as with Rosso but I remember dreading having to go to lessons with her and now I just love her to pieces and we have a great teamwork relationship.

Anonymous said...

Hey Shanster: I'm glad I came to your blog and read this post, because your Rosso sounds a lot like my Diego (10 year old Arabian/QH gelding).

He was very against the aids and grabbing the left rein and being very stiff and very resistant.If he tried to suck back, she gave him a big kick and his reaction was great - to go forward. He danced around - jigging. threatening, trying to suck back to get his way - she kept him forward, between her hands and her legs...

That is almost verbatim what my young trainer (God has a special place for these young ladies!!) works with him. Of course he does it WAY worse with me, but them I'm scared and she isn't.

How do you work through being scared on your horse? I love my horses but they are turning into very expensive pasture ornaments. Martha my trainer comes twice a week to ride Diego and he is lovely for her, well, after a brief I don't want to work, he's usually fine.

I recently moved to Ontario Canada and purchased both my horses last fall. I thought I was getting too very reliable good trail horses. And now the nightmare just seems to go on and on. My "bombproof, traffic safe, been there done that" 19 year old QH mare has also had a personality change. She is grumpy, nippy, herd bound, won't leave the property without having a meltdown.

Sorry I'm dumping, but I guess it's just been very frustrating. I haven't been this wrong after purchasing a horse ever. My horses have never turned out this way. Sigh. I am thrilled though for my young trainer and all the help she gives me. Do you think she would move in??? :-)

Thanks for letting me whine for a bit. Lynn

Shanster said...

Mommyrides - hello and please whine as much as you want! It is SO incredibly frustrating and demoralizing. I am NOT over my fear... yet. So far, I won't ride him without my trainer near and in her indoor. It's been a long long process ... or it sure feels that way. It was last summer he dumped me a couple times and I became afraid. I wasn't hurt, me coming off him was not super tragic or scary ... but it really rattled me that he could dump me THAT easily.

I have yet to really deal with him when he pulls his crapola and I know my legs will be jellyfish when that time comes...

yes, they ARE super expensive pasture pets and when you aren't really having much fun RIDING them but you are feeding them, doctoring them and paying for farrier... it does get a little... I don't know... not so much fun watching all your money fly out the door...

I'm so sorry... I think I know what you are feeling and it really isn't fun. I know you love them as I do mine... but it gets old real quick. I'm glad you have Martha - I would be lost without Rex...

The fear thing? I bought a rider psychology book to read and have all the passages about fear dog eared... I read that physical activity can help so one time I got him all tacked up and litterally ran around until I was tired (ha! doesn't take much!) and out of breath... I try singing under my breath to keep my brain busy on something else... I try being right here and right now... I try the "just do it and have faith"... seems like a combo or one thing - could be different each time - works as my fear is a different animal depending on the day...

I think the more rides I have on him that I "succeed" my confidence will grow. I also don't try to rush it... I'm not going anywhere, I'm not on a timeline and this is a process... I also don't bully myself, I acknowledge that I am fearful and tell myself it's o.k. to be afraid but it's what I do with the fear... I tell myself don't get immobilized, do something with your fear... I try to envision my legs and hands as cattle panels to keep him between them... I try to channel thoughts of long strong legs and "be one with the horse" so I can stick if he should become naughty...

Hang in there. Keep me posted... you can always e-mail me. I don't think I really have any answers but I'm sure happy to support and listen and I understand what you are going thru. It sucks.

I don't know why all these "growth" moments in our lives have to always be so damn hard!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments and support Shanster. It's so nice to talk to someone who knows how it feels!! I did ride him tonight and although I was somewhat shaky I did try talking to him like he was me. And I brought my son out who likes to talk so he keeps me in tune with a running commentary on everything Diego is doing under me. Plus I figure if I do go flying, it's good to have someone who can dial 911 on his cell phone!!
And Diego was very good. He was a bit naughty but nothing that would have even registered with Martha!! Isn't it interesting how every motion, sound, ear twitch they make becomes magnified!! I haven't cantered yet (nightmares over that one!) but we did some slow trotting and he is just like butter. So tonight was good, not a long ride but positive. And that's when I get off. It's been good, nothing bad happened, end positive for me.
I really love this guy and I hope it works out. He has a very sweet personality despite his under saddle antics. And we did work through a lot of ground manner issues, so in some things we have already come a long way.
Again thank you so much for your encouragement. Some days it's just so nice to know I'm not the only one.

Shanster said...

HOORAY for you! Any small victory is just that - a VICTORY! You rode, your boy was good, everything was positive.

I'm the same... need to have someone around just in case I need to be transported or 911 dialed! I think that is very smart actually.

Yes - Rosso is the same - sweet and he's come a long way. I really want to have a good relationship and trust but it's gonna be a while before I really feel comfortable with him and know I can rely on him. I think just like you... the more positive experiences... the more I ride him... the better it will be.

It took me up to now with Sera to get to the point where I know that she knows her job and isn't going to be naughty. I've had her for 6 or 7 years now? It is definately a "journey" and not one for the faint of heart.

You are doing a GREAT job. I figure since I'm not so aggressive and fearless... my strength is being persistant and not giving up. Probably takes me much longer but every person is different and should respect their needs and processes you know? We can't all be fearless! There are many ways to cook a goose... or *ahem* ride a horse! grin. Keep me posted! I'm cheering for you! Go Mommyrides!