It's all ups and downs, isn't it?
Well, aside from our serious marewolf moment on Monday, Miss Pia has been a (relative) angel. Our lesson Tuesday was (comparatively) great and my hacks with her Wednesday and Thursday were each productive and rewarding.
Wednesday the barn was bustling and the sun was shining. I tried to turn P out to the grass for a few minutes, but she was too busy being a nitwit, so I put her halter on and hand grazed for a bit before we got to work. She was still displaying her nice attitude from Tuesday, which made me optimistic about our ride. By the time we got to the ring, the only other horse working was just walking out, so we had the place to ourselves. I geared her up for a quick lunge and got to work.
P started nice and loose. Relaxed, opened her stride and really showed some nice stretches... Until a mare out on the grass flipped her lid. This particular mare is a screamer. She is outright the noisiest horse I have ever met, and apparently when she's convinced that she's alone and everyone else is eating dinner, she flips the eff out.
Of course that was all it took to rocket P into marewolf mode and she instantly stiffened, reared, bucked, kicked and proceeded to ignore me. Usually her antics don't offend me on a personal level, but at that point I was SO PISSED that she had started nicely and now was on an escalating path toward doom.
Screamer Mare finally got taken inside, but P's PTSD remained fully intact. We spent another 20 minutes on the lunge with me literally biting my tongue and trying to muster any bit of patience I could imagine...
Once I legged up it was a different story. P finally calmed down and my visions of a long lazy hack seemed obtainable once again. We walked for about 15 minutes before picking up the trot which was easy and fairly relaxed by Miss Pia's standards. I worked our canter transitions early, then went right back to focusing on our long & low trot, which was ridiculously successful. I actually got the mare working ON THE BUCKLE with her nose in front of the vertical. Can you imagine!? I certainly couldn't...
Another mare joined us, and P didn't even bat an eye. Calm, stretchy, focused. I was thrilled. Our lateral work was easy and forward, but I didn't push for anything too hard, just some easy leg yields, and a few good shoulder in's off the rail...
I finished with another 10 min on the buckle and called it a day. I really couldn't have been more proud of her, or surprised to see a big foamy mouth when I popped off. (P foams nicely on the lunge, but rarely under saddle... I think she usually stays so tense it's not an option..)
Thursday I canceled my lesson since I was stuck east of the mountains in a meeting for longer than I anticipated, but I still got to the barn to ride on my own. I really didn't know what to expect from the mare, since she had such a great hack on Wednesday, but Thursday would be her fourth day working hard in a row which typically has been about her mental limit.
We had the place to ourselves, so I (gasp) remembered to grab my video camera and was excited to possibly capture some of Wednesday's magic on the camera. I'm not sure if she was just fatigued from the week, or if she knew I was filming, but there was no sign of the super-stretchy-relaxed-mare I had on wednesday. She wasn't bad, or even naughty, but she was much, much tighter than she's been recently. We ended up working for over an hour (lots of long walk breaks to help combat our bad habit of getting grumpy when returning to work), but even at the end of our session she was still tight and choppy.
Our lateral work was sticky, her suppleness was minimal and our lengthenings were non existent, but still Pia tried, and she seemed to be giving me most of her attention.
I worked our "stretchy" trot - though she barely even stretched down, did lots of figure eights at the trot and canter, some leg yields, lots of halt transitions and lots of increase/decrease in an attempt to ask her to loosen up.
I got a little frustrated with our ride, but given Monday's theatrics, I still felt like we ended the week in a much better place than we started it. Here are a few highlights from last night. My apologies for the crapy video, apparently my camera had a hard time picking up the light and focusing waaaaaay down at one end of the arena. I think I'll have to play with camera placement for future recordings...
First up? a snippet of our warmup. I forgot what's included, but you can see us trotting around :)
Next up? Canter figure eights. The cadence of our canter leaves something to be desired, but try to remember that two months ago we couldn't pick up the canter without some form of a bucking fit. Just getting this many transitions is a big win for us. :) ps - note the crappy hand grab at the end... P was turning into a freight train, but dear lord, let GOOOOOO. oh, and add more leg (mental smack).
All in all? a great week. P has earned a Friday night off for her good behavior. She's been spending her nights outside again, which I think is helping her mental space. Even if it's not, I just like knowing that she gets to stand and listen to the night without the click of the automatic bug sprays or automatic waterers going off every few minutes. Not that I don't ADORE those features, but sometimes I think she likes to be a real horse. :)
This weekend we get one lesson and one hack, and MAYBE if she's good we'll ride off property. The trees are all such pretty colors right now, a short hack down the road would be just gorgeous.
Happy Friday everyone!