Monday, January 31, 2011

Field Trip!!!!

Yesterday was P's first real field trip.  Or at least, her first field trip that involved a ride and not a "spa treatment" at the vet clinic...

I wasn't too sure what to expect.  She hauls well, (though gets a little excited in new places) and I've certainly never attempted to "work" her any place new.  The closest I've gotten to "seeing P off property" is when we've switched barns... but she's always had a night to settle in and a chance to gallop around a new place before I've asked her to focus, or god forbid, work.

This made yesterday an experiment to the extreme.  The Boy and I got up early, hitched up and got to the barn.  I had mentally resolved to ace the princess just to take the edge off and give us a "positive experience."  I liked the logic, and frankly it seemed like a good way to dip our toe in the pool of off property experiences.

The mare was NOT interested in needles that early in the morning and managed a little mini rear (kudos to The Boy for hanging on to her) when I tried to stick her.  That was enough for me.  As someone who's shot giving skills rate somewhere between tentative and totally crappy, I decided that P seemed quiet enough to at least haul down easily and I'd bring the ace if we needed it for our ride... but that we'd risk it and start out without.

P seemed to agree with my decision to put the pokey-stick-thing away and was a quiet, lovely gem about walking slowly and calmly into the trailer.  I made her stand for a few minutes while I'll gathered the last few items I needed, all the while she quietly munched on hay, even with a few frantic whinnies coming from the barn (good mare).

We hauled great, unloaded quietly, walked around the property a bit and stayed very calm.  I was super impressed and dare I say surprised at the calm soft expression that P maintained the entire time.  She raised her head once at the tractor dragging the arena.  Though frankly, it looked like a monster even to me.  Roaring around the indoor, with it's bucket in the air clanking into walls and rocks and such on a sporadic basis... I would have given it the hairy eyeball too.

Long story short, we moved into the cross ties, tacked up and got right to work.  No ace needed.

No Ace Needed

Ta-Da!! Magic mare! She was distracted and very concerned about all the things lurking in the corners (balls, poles, cones...) but she kept all her toes on the ground where they belonged.    I hopped on and we had some issues working out to the rail, but Pia was calm and manageable.  Not once did she feel like she was going to explode and not once did she feel out of control.  She was stuck behind my leg, but not in a cranky "sticky" way.  More in a "uhhhhh, mom, I'm pretty sure you didn't mean to ask me to go into that corner... so I'm just gonna ignore that cue, thx." way.

Frankly, I'll accept that.  I'd much rather have her slow and cautious than crazed and bolty.  Our lesson went well... (I'll post some video later) and we actually got some decent work done.  For some reason the ring was significantly scarier when we tracked to the right (less scary to the left), but since P is about as flexible as a motorcycle to the right, we focused on that side in sprite of the increased spook factor.

Supermom was happy with how she behaved and also happy to see that P was moving a little freer (when not avoiding scary corners, or irregular grooves in the sand..) and helped us come up with a slightly longer-term-plan. (SLTP).

So far it looks like this:

Use February to solidify our longer/lower frame and build muscle.
Ride 70% on the right side to help increase strength and flexibility in that direction.
Limit lateral work, but focus on suppling. 
Educate the mare on the fact that her face can bend to the right...
Stay forward.

March we'll start to add in some lateral work again, bring her up a bit (if she's muscled) and hopefully work a bit more on quality of gaits rather than just obeying.

How'dya like them apples!?

She did throw in a couple little hops when we were really working on our right bend (and cantering), but I got after her.  Also, they seemed like genuine "ow this is hard" kicks, not "get off you flaming bitch" kicks.  I'm fine with things being hard.  I am not fine with her trying to murder me.  So that's an improvement too.

All in all, it was a great day.  P was quiet, soft and calm - even in a brand new situation with horsies she didn't know. She trailered like a champ, came off cool and dry both times and we both had happy rides. 

Can't ask for much more than that! 

Like I said, video, and more comments on the ride to come....

Center console of the truck - my favorite deli turkey wrap (fully used), and the syringe of ace (UNUSED!!!!).  YESSSSSSSSSSS


  1. Cheering WILDLY over here! What a good Pia! Just think how much better she'll be as she relaxes there:) So happy for you, and excited to see the video...awesome day for you guys.

  2. In some cases, Ace actually makes horses MORE skittish because they don't have their wits about them, much like being high makes some people paranoid. Here's hoping this is the start of a new chapter, Ace free. Kudos to both of you!

  3. Hurray!! So glad it went well for you guys.

  4. So exciting right!? Dom - yeah, I'm with you, I've also seen several instances where it doesn't have much of an effect on horses that are already anxious/nervous... P seems to stay pretty chill on it, but I'm glad our use is back down to zero...

  5. That is so fantastic!!! Maybe the Regumate is working? It definitely sounds like she's feeling calmer and more settled. :) Congrats on your hard work paying off and for making slightly longer term plans. :)

  6. Woohoo! That's wonderful!! I'm so glad things went well for you all! I hope things continue to work wonderfully!


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