Honestly, if Pia was my romantic life partner, I'm fairly certain that I would have numerous friends lining up to tell me that I was trapped in an abusive relationship...
It seems that every time I'm at my wits end and feel emotionally battered by the mare, she turns it around and reminds me that I could never, ever love another. (clever witch).
Yesterday's ride was ying to Monday's yang. It was the high to the frustrating low, the calm to the storm.
To sum up - she was a gem. A sparkly, sparkly diamond of a gem, and a sweet, sweet mare.
I spent a good portion of my day at work yesterday researching hormone treatment options (more on that in a future post), but I was reading every experience/thought/critique/accolade I could find on everything from regumate to the "marble" to depo, to crazy hippy herbal mixes. :)
Out of sheer frustration I did order a new supplement to try. More to feel like I was making progress somehow, than because I think a new supplement will magically solve our issue, but still... It was therapeutic.
By the time I made it to the barn after work I was feeling more confident about my theory that Miss Pia is having raging hormone cycles that turn her into the horsey equivalent of a warewolf (I'm calling it a marewolf). The pieces just seem to fit. I even printed out a blank calendar and filled in the days that were heinous rides (starting back with our July saddle fitting). It's not a perfect 21 day cycle, but it sure as heck seems to follow a hazy pattern...
What isn't clear from my highly scientific calendar plotting is how long the marewolf phase lasts every cycle. Sometimes we have two bad rides, sometimes it's 5... so that remains to be determined. Regardless, since Pia was marewolf on Saturday for the BO, had Sunday off and was MAJOR marewolf on Monday, I was mentally prepared for continued nastiness when I got to the barn.
What I found was this:
sleeping dragon. Somewhere a small voice in my head shouted "let it lie! let it lie!!!!". But obviously I ignored it. I did laugh, and mentally started preparing the post where I got pitched around like a sack of flour for the second time in a row after rousing the beast from her slumber..
But, I was excited to ride and test the marewolf, so rouse her I did, and we tacked up uneventfully.
Still a few squeals, still some ears pinned, but she was much more agreeable than Monday. I figured that even with her gallop-gallop-gallop session, lunging was a good idea to see if she was tight anywhere or hurting, oh and also to test the level of wikedness.
I sent her out at the trot, and she moved out nicely. Calm, no head waggling, no bouncing, just a trot. Stiff? sure, but at least calm and forward. We did lots of transitions, lots of halts, lots of canter, and the miracle?? Not a single kick or buck.
Not one. I got one head waggle when I asked her to move out at the canter, but that's ok. Otherwise, she was foot perfect and steady and even. No marewolf in sight!
I legged up and we walked off without issue. No sticky, stopping mare, no pinned ears. We even walked the ring on the buckle (!??!?) in both directions. Our trot was tight and stiff, but pleasant.
Mostly I was shocked. By no means was she a total angel, but she was sensitive, responsive and accepting my leg (for the most part). We did our usual warmup, squiggles, loops, serpentines... a few leg yields, and some canter work. Big bonus surprise? no kicks or bucks in our canter departs!!! I did ask very softly for them, and was a little bit chicken about really keeping my leg on, but I'll take it! After our canter work we tried a new exercise.. which I loved, and really seemed to soften her up.
Up centerline, leg yield out to quarterline, reverse bend for shoulder in, reverse bend and continue leg yield to rail.
The first two runs were sticky and a little ugly, but Pia honestly tried. That was a lot to ask of her, and in all fairness she tried mightly to guess what direction and where her various legs were supposed to be going.. We got a few great rounds in on either side. Played with some shoulder-in/haunches-in off the rail, then had a big walk break.
She was such a star we finished the ride with some stretchy-trot practice on a circle and had a mild breakthrough. Pia is exceptionally reluctant to push her nose out when I ask her to stretch, instead she typically just drops her neck and "stretches" without really poking her nose out. Obviously this isn't ideal, but I finally got a few good steps with her nose in front of the vertical (yay!). I think the key here is that I don't just put her on a circle and keep working the stretch, but instead ride the movement like a test and to multiple "one circle" rides of letting her down and picking her up.
Like everything, sustained requests seem to frustrate her, where as multiple transitions seem to allow her to push herself and understand the question better.
By the time I hopped off to cool her out, I was practically beaming. Honestly, I'm just so happy to catch a glimpse of the loving, determined, intelligent mare that I enjoy so much. I always "know" she's in there, but sometimes after several marewolf days in a row I get discouraged. I really do appreciate the days when your rides surprise you and you feel that connection start to spark.
Also, I love the days when Pia is well behved enough that I get to spend some of my focus on me and my riding. Lord knows I need it, and ultimately it will benefit her in the end...
Today I'm riding on my own, but I'm going to try and set up my video camera to catch a glimpse of where we are at... Happy Wednesday!