Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chutes & Ladders (and those pesky Pyramids)

While I understand that the basic philosophy of the Training Pyramid is to steadily climb up it - often my progression feels a bit more akin to a (crappy) game of Chutes & Ladders than a slow march up a mountain.

I have several instances to reference here, but I'll stick with the most recent incident:

Following our totally bad-ass work with some increased collection and really pushing into our transitions.  Prairie apparently rolled a 3 with her dice and promptly landed on a giant Chute that sent us back to square one.
See that big long slide from square 87 down to 24.  Yeah.  We landed on that.
 Frankly I feel like the good 'ol training pyramid infographic could use an update with some Chutes added on.  I mean, ok, Rhythm and Relaxation, check.  Then, you ask for some connection and uh oh! you lose it all and slide back to the bottom. 
The *new* pyramid
I mean, I know this happens.  Two steps forward, one (two? 5?) steps back... extinction bursts, testing, fatigue.  Whatever you want to call it, I'm pretty used to making progress than being handed a giant piece of humble pie and starting over.

Where we lost it this week was really Relaxation.  Prairie started getting all chompy and antsy and trying to "bust out" of my aids.  Which led to a lack of balance which in turn led to a reappearance of the dreaded scoot.

But this time, instead of just hscooting when all hell breaks loose, she's using it as a semi-regular response to a normal half halt.  Let me paint you a picture:

We're trotting, nicely might I add, but I feel our tempo speed up and the weight shift to the forehand.  So I rebalance with a little half halt, leg-seat-close-the-outside-rein and BLAMO!

Inverted, blastoff!  we race! we scurry! we gallop around the arena.

A'hem.  mare?  Is your brain is still attached. and I just asked for a half halt.

Thinking I must have missed something, I didn't make a big deal and returned to our normal trot.  So we trot, until things start to loose ideal balance and I throw in a half halt

BLAMO! inverted blastoff!  we run, we scoot. I pulley rein, she flies sideways. I run her into a corner, she sidepasses out of it, we gallop in a very terrible circle

Irritating is an understatement. 

Then, on another ride, S sets up two cavaletti at the center of a figure eight so we can criss cross back and forth.  We start by walking over it, which should be cake, but every time we approach the 6" cavaletti, we leap and jump and BLASTOFF!!!!!!

Yeah I dunno.

So we walked over them for a good 20 minutes until we could walk over them without cause for alarm.  Then we trotted, which took another 20 minutes to settle into an easy, even trot without drama at every pole. 

Weird much?  Pretty sure we're at the bottom of the Pyramid as we definitely don't have a Rhythm, and I'm quite certain Relaxation was not a part of the picture... 

Oh mare.

We've had a few schools since then with slightly less drama and more responsiveness to a simple half halt, but WOW.  Talk about square one.

Part of me feels like there must be big chunks of her foundation that are totally missing and every once in a while a giant sink hole opens up and we literally chute back to the bottom.  Hence the freakouts over cavaletti (but 3'6" courses are not cause for alarm) and her ability to sit and her ass and pushing nicely in a walk/canter, but still totally blow through a baby half halt when she tips onto her forehand in the trot..


  1. Is she sore anywhere? Muscles? had a similar thing happen with my young guy recently, he was sore from his new found self carriage work...

  2. Huh - chutes and ladders makes more sense than the Aussie version of snakes and ladders.

    Also, gah! What the hell is that all about Prairie?!

  3. Are you using the new saddle or the old? Have you tried using a different saddle? Maybe the new one isn't working for her? Good luck, how frustrating.

  4. Yay training!! The good news with horses vs chutes and ladders is that even if you have to retrain them every single time, eventually it gets faster. ;-) P2 is sensitive and you're an overachiever. You'll get it worked out.

    In the meantime, I'm almost wanting to play a round of C&L. I hadn't even thought of it in years.

  5. I was going to mention soreness too. Has she developed new muscles that could be throwing her saddle out of whack and causing soreness? Has she had a day or two off to rest her muscles? I've often found that when they backslide really bad that they need some time off. What about her teeth? If a half halt is bothering her could it be an issue with her mouth? It's always a mystery with horses huh? I wish they could talk! Don't worry though, you'll get it all back. :D


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