Friday I had a lesson late in the afternoon and as I mentioned, S had set a full course outside and we were going to school it (come hell or high water). Which, actually came in the form of unrelenting rainstorms and an immensely soggy ring (high water). The showers lightened to a polite mist by the time I was legging up so we braved the weather and headed outside.
Prairie was a tweedle-monster from the get go. She was spooking at birds, at wind, at rain, at... whatever.
Of course this tantrum ramped up just as the seriously heavy rain returned which meant that there was no escaping to the shelter of the indoor without first resolving Prairie's antics. I also simultaneously realized that my beloved raincoat is no longer waterproof. Oh, and those nice big vents on my GPA are less than ideal in a monsoon situation (soggy head).
But the mare.
The mare was doing her best impression of "freak out at everything on show day" but at home. Aside from the rain I was moderately intrigued by the "opportunity" for me to stay on and attempt to work through this little episode without completely relying on S (who was also braving the rain outside with us).
So, on I stayed - and did my best to start diffusing the powder keg that I was riding. Between pathetic whimpers that were meant to garner sympathy from S, I focused on keeping Prairie super busy and working hard and also not just clamping down on the reins in an attempt to contain her.
I stayed on a very small circle at the "safe" end of the arena doing small figure-eights, shoulders-in/haunches-out and transitions. Keeping her busy kept her brain moderately focused and also really helped prevent me from tensing up and wrangling her into relaxation.
Slowly S asked us to broaden our circle and creep toward the scary end as we worked. I felt Prair "pop" a few times attempting to scoot but I caught her shoulder, set her straight and focused on immediately releasing. It was nice to have S there to tell me to soften because she was yelling "SOFTEN!" about 10 strides before my brain would have considered it safe to actually soften.
The result however, was that I avoided a tug-o-war and I think that we prevented the mare from escalating further. Eventually I worked a small crossrail into our ever-growing-circle and managed to get some nice circles at the trot and canter over it. Then we worked a line going toward the scary end, and eventually continuing to canter through and past the scary-horse-eating-end of the arena.
About an hour later I had a mostly soft (if not totally relaxed) horse who was cantering full courses and getting her changes.
I did keep her canter very tiny and we were adding two strides in ever related distance, but I think it's what we needed to stay in control and not scooting about like a drama llama.
By the end of the ride I was exhausted, but really proud that I was able to work through the tantrum and get to some nice, productive work.
Saturday was a day off for everyone, but Sunday I headed out to watch S's ride. In theory we were going to repeat the coursework outside, but the continuing monsoons pushed us inside for some low cavaletti/crossrail work.
|Prair with S on Sunday|
But I totally get it now. Not only do I still take pride in my horses when they are under someone else, I find it just as educational and entertaining to watch a work session with S up in the irons. I also find shows just as nerve-wracking and stressful when I'm on the ground.
It's weird. But I enjoy it and its been a fun addition to my horsey experience.
This week I'm hoping the good trend continues. I'm hauling out Wednesday for our offsite lesson and Sunday we have a fun little schooling show back at our favorite local park. It will be a good one-day warm up for a super fun C show back at the same facility May 3rd-5th.