Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's Not You, It's Me.

I really like this pic with the reflection.. Pia x 2!

I've had the pleasure of uttering the fateful phrase "it's not you it's me" to more than a couple of boys in my time (who hasn't).  I think I usually worded it slightly better.. or at least masked it a bit to save some dignity and pride, but the message was the same.... a relationship wasn't working, and in my effort to take some of the blame/own up to my disinterest, I usually went the "it's not you, it's me" route.  In reality I knew that it was definitely also "them."  I mean, if they were magically different, maybe my interest would have changed too, but I digress....

After watching Supermom with the P monster last night, it's very, very clear to me that:
It's not Pia, it's me.

Long story short, Supermom got a great ride out of her.  Not picture perfect by any means, but the goal was "forward" and to maintain the appropriate number of hooves on the ground. Both of which were accomplished with flying colors.  Incidentally, these are both goals that I've failed pretty hard at in recent weeks...  Which makes a couple of things very clear:

1) This is almost ALL attitude
2) Pia totally has my number
3) I've allowed the amplification of her outbursts.

On one hand it's a relief to know that the mare isn't totally batshit crazy.  If she had been up in the air and all around town with Supermom, I'd be worrying that I had a totally insane, dangerous, wild animal on my hands.  As it stands, I apparently have a very pretty, extremely clever, somewhat bitchy animal on my hands... which is better.... (I think)....

On the other hand, it is somewhat demoralizing to realize that I'm pretty much to blame.  Yes, the mare is very smart.  She is more clever than anything I've had the pleasure of working with, and I still think that the comparison to a velociraptor is totally valid.  She's smart enough that I should cut myself some slack, but it still doesn't make me feel great.  The mare is also sassy.  I think this goes hand in hand with smart, and hand in hand with velociraptor... but it's a bit different.  She tests, and tests... and tests... and its frustrating that while I feel I have drawn hard lines with her, apparently they haven't been hard enough, or drawn fast enough.

(In related news... I think that this sign will be going on Pia's paddock in the near future.. so we can track our "progress")
So... what's next?

Well, I think (aside from getting the Regumate if my vet EVER returns me phone calls..) I do my best to emulate Supermom's ride last night.  I'll recount her ride in more detail tomorrow (when all my video is up and online so you can see for yourself that the mare does indeed go forward and keep the appropriate hooves on the ground.

Basically my gameplan can be reduced to a few simple steps.

1) Back to basics.  We're going return to the mindset of "one month under saddle" and take away all the potential battles of the movements and work that I've been asking Pia to perform.  I need to re-establish my authority and that needs to start at the beginning.

2) Specifically... GO FORWARD.  Lunge forward, ride forward, start in the canter, GO FORWARD.  Eliminate the stick, and be done with it.  We aren't going to be able to do anything if we are constantly getting stuck every time we try something new.

3) Stick with it.  I know my resolve has been wavering a bit day to day, but seeing P work like a real horse tells me that its an obtainable goal, and I owe it to myself (and P) to keep hacking away at it.  I do need to figure out at what point (should I still not see supermom results) I call a spade a spade, but I haven't thought about that yet.

So, video tomorrow (I promise). in the meantime, here's some more stills from the ride.  You can clearly see that P is moving and that the hooves are where they should be.  Fun FUN
CAAANTER! This is how Supermom started out...
This is the trot we ended with.  Still a bit tense, but FORWARD and reaching (kinda)


  1. Aw, she looks so GOOD! Please don't be too hard on's frigging mares, I tell ya! I think a lot of people wouldn't still be with her and trying at this point (I don't know if I have the confidence to ride a horse that bucks/rears, no matter what the reason!).

    If you stick it out I think you will have the kind of partnership people will be envious of...not everyone can say they've tamed a velociraptor, after all:) That sign totally made me lol:)

  2. I was smiling to myself while I read your post. Pia sounds so much like my previous horse. He so had my number. I couldn't get him to do anything. He would buck, or amble along, or just flat out ignore me. My trainer, supermom also, got the most beautiful rides out of him. They cleaned up at shows. I got piaffe and passage but not when I asked for it. After five years, I threw in the towel. You have a connection with your mare. I think that means you will have better success than I did. I don't think my horse liked or respected me. I wish you luck and perseverance!

  3. I agree with Sarah... it's a mare thing!! My mare is the same way, although she doesn't go to the lenths P does to get her point across, but mares are definitely a challenge. The best part is, though, once you get past this I think she'll be a phenomenal horse and a phenomenal partnership. :)

  4. I hope that this is the case. I feel that I am at the same place with D as you are with P. Denali has my number (and she often gives it to other horses.) I hope to get past that battle and have that partnership that I hear so many people have.

  5. Ohh a smart Mare is a tricky combo. I prefer my "DUUUUH" geldings ;)
    In any case, when they test, test, test it's tough BUT you are realizing somethings and YES it's better to have a smart mare vs the wild beast that is sour. You will get seems right around the corner for you two! :)

  6. A little food for thought for you... my trainer often says that horses act "crazy" because people treat them like they're crazy. She has an amazing gift for turning fire-breathing dragons into sweet, willing little puppy dogs, and I've often tried to pick her brain as to how she does it. She says that it's more about treating them like they're going to be good than anything else, which I think must translate to them because she rides them confidently and stays relaxed. She doesn't let them get away with anything, but she also doesn't anticipate bad behavior or escalate a naughty moment. Maybe that's part of Supermom's great ride? I know you must be frustrated because I've been where you are -- when a horse gets your number -- and it's totally defeating and demoralizing. But, I do think this is good news. She's capable of being the horse you want, now you just have to figure out how to get the same ride out of her. You're a good rider, so I have no doubt you can do it. Maybe it will help if you keep that mindset my trainer talks about in mind: expect Pia to be good. Maybe it will help you to ride her more confidently, or more relaxed? Very interested to see the video!

  7. Love that first photo. Very cool. Back to basics and forward, forward, forward are AWESOME steps.

  8. Good luck. I hope this inspires you and doesnt bring you down. I know you can conquer the issues. Just take baby steps :) And "just keep swimming".

  9. I think this is good news! It's a lot easier to improve yourself than to improve a crazy velociraptor . . . err horse. :) Sorry I couldn't resist.

    I was reading a book recently that was VERY interesting. She said that anytime you have "sticky" problems under saddle you need to go back to your leading basics. Make sure your horse has a consistent, relaxed, obedient walk on, back up, yield fore and hind quarters and halt on the lead (and I think sidepass might have been included in this). Once she is listening to you on the lead it should translate to under saddle. She could not stress enough how important it was to have good leading skills (in fact she described leading as riding from the ground). It made a lot of sense. If you have any questions email me and I can try to explain it better or maybe type out some of what is in the book.

    Good luck!

  10. The smart ones are always the tricky ones, eh? On the plus side, think of how much this will improve your riding. I remember being little, and riding a horse that (similarly to Pia) wouldn't listen to a thing I said. She would take off whenever I asked her to do anything, and she bolted over a jump a couple times too; It was beyond frustrating. However, I remember falling off at one point in that ride, and my coach coming over and handing me the horses reins and telling me
    "you learn twice as much from the tough rides as you do from the easy ones."

  11. What achieve1dream said!

    If they're not respecting you on the ground, they won't under saddle either. Groundwork is good, for your bond and for confidence.

    You know that feeling that you and your horse are one, that all you have to do is think and your horse responds (this has happened to me briefly, exactly once lol)? It's the same if you're thinking negatively... it's a self fulfilling prophecy.

    My trainer always points out that each ride is a fresh start. In fact each minute can be a fresh start if you hold nothing. Horses don't hold grudges, or live in the past. It's one of the beautiful lessons they can teach us.

    I know you can work this out with Pia. Open your heart - sounds new agey but I have really seen this in action.

    Thinking of you :)

  12. Hey Guys! Thanks! I am optimistic, and it is encouraging to know that I just need to be working on myself/attitude/approach.

    Re: groundwork, I am in complete agreement. The frustrating part is that she is a GEM on the ground. I can lead her halterless in the ring and she glues her shoulder to mine. step toward her, she yields, step away, she comes close.. we can even halt trot without a lead. She's a rockstar. That respect extends to her lunge work as well. She's very capable of tuning in, which is what makes the under saddle objections that much more frustrating... it "feels" like we have a crazy good foundation... its just not translating to anything else. (yet) :)

  13. Well, that is interesting. Was Supermom using your saddle and bridle? If she was it can't be a tack issue either. That is really strange that she listens so well on the ground, but doesn't under saddle. The only thing I can think of is the fact that Supermom's ride wasn't the same day of the accident . . . if it is hormones so much could have changes in those few days between . . . Have you had someone else ride her immediately after you've had a bad ride (bucking, rearing, unplanned dismounts)? I'm stumped . . .

  14. Huh. Well, glad you've sort of figured it out and GOOD LUCK with the implementation. (I emphasize because if I were you, I'd need extra big luck). Forward is so important. Keep us posted.

  15. I love the sign!!! That is just too cool!

    I'm glad you've got an idea of what to do and what's going on. Good luck with all of that!


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