Monday, March 21, 2011

Trending.... Down?

I feel like a lot has happened since I posted, but I guess really I've only missed a couple of rides.  I'd love to say that Wednesday was the "blip" on our otherwise sunny forecast, but apparently we're trending away from the magical loose fun rides of last Monday.

Wednesday's video showed a much more tense and less tuned in Pia than I had my legs around Monday, and Friday's ride continued that downward trend a little farther..

What plots are you plotting in there tricky mare......
Friday brought a MONSOON of a rainstorm right about the time I was walking the mare to the ring.  Which is fine (objectively), but Pia has recently decided that the clogged drain spout and ensuring waterfall coming of the roof over the "P" is terrifying and unacceptable. 

Oh, and also, so is the northeast corner of the arena.

Oh, and so is the mounting block.

Mind you the terrifying waterfall is still outside the ring (aside from some splashed wet spots on the wall), the northeast corner hasn't changed a bit... and neither has the mounting block.  She's just being a brat.

P was actually a little twitty on the lunge and threw in more head tossing/squeals than I'm used to these days, but I figured that she was just feeling good after a day off...  I kept waiting for to relax under saddle, but she was tense, spooky, and I spent the entire ride trying to overcome her rather impressive half-pass/panicked bounces away from the scary spots of the ring...which she's cleverly created in a pattern that leaves only one 20 meter circle that isn't impacted.  After about half an hour we got some remotely decent figure eights in, so I called it good and got off. 

Saturday was some gift from god in terms of weather, so I opted for a big long walk (with a stop for nachos) with The Boy, and never made it to the barn.  The Boy and I did manage to meet up with Supermom and her husband for a fantastic dinner.  Somehow we've managed to never get the four of us in the same place at the same time so this was a first.  Both Supermom and I figured the guys would get along just fine and as I was finishing my third (brilliant) whiskey and the bar was turning on the lights, we finally called it a night... super good times. :)

Sunday I was back out to the barn early, hoping the sunshine would stick around long enough to warrant a bath for the mare to remove the layer of winter dust and mud and grossness.

As I drove out of the city I watched the temperature on my car (or rather.. the rental) slowly tick down from a "balmy" 49 at home in Seattle  to a 38 at the barn.  I'll bathe at 49... with warm water and sunshine to dry in... but not at 38 with wind and clouds.

So that was a sad realization, but I still tacked up the mare and got ready to ride.  Her growing topline and neck prompted me to check my saddle fit to make sure that my shimmed half pad isn't getting too tight on Pia's increasingly muscled shoulder.  I dropped the Prestige on her bare back and was shocked to see that the tree is no longer "wide" up front on the mare.

I ran my hands every which way, and decided that it was time to downgrade from the "big" shims to the "thin" shims in the saddle fitter pad, but to still use it.  The thought of P continuing to fill out and gain muscle is lovely.  I think all of our long and low work is paying off and its amazing to see her gaining "good" muscles from our exercises.

The smile disappeared rather quickly when P made a point of showing that whatever brattiness she had been displaying earlier in the week was just a warm-up for this ride.  On the lunge she was bucking, head tossing, cutting in on the circle.. everything.

 Bucking for fun, bucking randomly, pulling.. all sorts of nonsense that she usually doesn't do, and certainly hasn't done in a few months.

We spent longer than normal getting settled and when I finally went to leg up she was fussy at the mounting block.  After two aborted attempts to get on, I backed her up hard on the ground and threw her on the lunge again.  Galloping, bucking, ignoring me, jacking around and awful.  We spent another 10 minutes getting her to focus, then I attempted to mount again.

This time she was an angel, but it didn't last long.  She walked off with the frenzied anxiety that she hasn't shown a hint of since November 2010.  I walked a few laps, then bounced into the trot.  The transition was good, but that was it.  She stopped on the open side of the circle refused to move forward.  I turned her hard, whacked her a good one and gave her an opportunity to move forward.

She declined to take it.

Circled again, whacked her again, and let her move forward.

She decided not to budge.

So I flew off backed her up hard, made her move off from me and put her back on the line.

We cantered more until she was all but too willing to listen to me for transitions, then I tried again.

She "behaved," but she never relaxed and she continued to spook at light spots from the skylights, corners and horses walking around the property.  I called it quits after about 20 min under saddle since the beast was lathered, dripping and still gunning for more.

It felt like a huge failure, but realistically, she didn't buck under saddle and all of our transitions (after the first issue) happened without incident... Our canter was tense but uneventful, and the trot was "forward" but felt more rushed and jammed up than it has since Supermom reprogrammed her :)

Since P was already soaked and the sun was making attempts to shine through, I figured that I might as well just hose her off and at least get the mare clean.  She stood like a gem during her bath (in spite of a pressure washing going crazy behind a trailer and a few other understandable distractions) so that was her minor redemption.  While I was washing her tail I considered the possibility that maybe her change in pads contributed (she's notoriously AWFUL with anything remotely not perfect on her back), but that didn't explain the other increasingly tense rides earlier in the week..

My primary thought is that I've been maybe a little too accepting of her small objections under saddle.  In my head I've been trying to preserve relaxation and just going f-o-r-w-a-r-d.  but maybe I've been giving her just enough leeway that she's totally ignoring the boundaries that I think I'm setting.

My plan is to change back to the bigger shims (why not) in case the pad change instigated this and ride extra firmly, in case this is a boundary issue.  I'll just have to do my best to fake a Supermom ride and see what happens :)

In good news, the mare is clean, and she got a Rolf session on Sunday which showed that her right hind is maintaining the adjustments that were made on it's own so we just worked on some stiffness in her lower back (maybe that was causing the bucks?).

Oh mare... it's a constant struggle... at least you're cute you adorable thing!


  1. We had a ride last week where (at first) one third of the arena was unacceptable to work in... I feel your pain lol.

    Good luck with the Supermom imitation ;)

  2. She's trying to tell you something, take a breather and try to figure out what that is or you're just going to keep fighting- and fights are no fun :(

  3. I don't know what people with ugly horses do. Even when Izzy is a total pill, at least she's cute and has decent ground manners.

    It doesn't sound like the pad is the issue--if it was getting too tight and bothering her, then changing it should have fixed it. Not disagreeing about changing it back, but just confirming your opinion.

  4. Can you ride her bareback to see if she is relaxed and loose without the saddle? I think that's the easiest way to check for saddle issues, but considering your bucking experiences with her I don't know if you'd be comfortable doing it. Also how long has it been since she went on the Regumate? Could she be in heat? I hope you can figure out what the problem is.


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