Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clinic Outcome

So we had our clinic today. I didn't get there early enough to warm up, but I decided to brave riding over to the other farm. I turned down the driveway, took a breathe, and pushed with my leg. EVERYTHING was scary - the fallen tree, the marshy grass, the stones, but we made it... down the driveway. In the road, I hopped off after Spyder acted like he never saw a car before. Someone was headed to the barn to feed so she stopped and waited for me to pass her before going further since she saw him spool. Thank goodness! We went towards the barn, and OMG, there were horses in their stalls making noise! Spyder spazzed and jumped back a few times, great... this was going to go well! Then I had a sniffle which made him jump... and then we went to the mounting block.

In the ring, we did well. We walked each direction at the other farm while we waited for the instructor to finish his prior lesson. I had no idea I'd be hooking up to a microphone/speaker set to listen to Danny Warrington speak, but this is where the lesson started. I had to drop the reins while Danny held him to put on the headphones under my helmet. Man was I a nervous mess! I was already worried about how he was going to behave, and he wanted to circle and act like whatever was going on wasn't OK. Danny made note of me not trusting him when he was holding my horse with me on board, but I assured him that it was not a trust issue with him - it was with Spyder. I get nervous in situations that we've never experienced before which definitely doesn't help us out... AT ALL! We decided to head to the indoor since it's right by the ring where we started for the control factor, as we discussed that as something I need to work on.

In the indoor, the first question I had to answer was, "What is your job as the rider?" Ummm... telling your horse what to do? I had no idea. It's steering and speed... both we have NO control over, BUT I learned that I do actually have full control over it. It's my job to make sure we're doing what I want to do since Spyder has no clue, and his job is to listen. AWESOME, now what? We played a little red light, green light to prove that control is little to none. I also got asked, "Would you drive a car without brakes on the NJ turnpike doing 90 mph?" OK, I get it. We don't stop well either! Stop, back, trot, halt, trot on... all at "not fast enough" speed. AHH! I thought we knew more, but I was wrong, and we got a GREAT clinic session under our belts. So what was going to help the speed and steering? Well, LOTS of circles, LOTS of pulling back... do what I say now INSTEAD of.. oh, it's OK... you can move forward and do what you want to do. Aww, you don't want to stand? We can walk around. The key to all of this was keep him moving. He DID pull his buck/kicking out thing, and we worked through it. You want to act up, Spyder, you can turn into the wall... then you can CANTER the other way. You want to kick out that way? AWESOME, turn into the wall and canter the OTHER way. Danny kicked our butts. Within 5 minutes Spyder was listening better than he ever had before, and we had a brake. It was so fun because I didn't think I could ride like that!

After our turn, turn turn, stop, trot, stop, back, trot, canter, turn into wall, canter (aka pace), turn into wall again, he was LISTENING. Instead of running off and doing what he wanted to do, he stopped, stood, and his ears were back to listen for the next cue. WHOO! I had no idea he wasn't listening all along, but I am happy I learned how to enforce the "let's do this". We worked on serpentines at the walk to get the soft steering and neck movements which kicked our butt... so then we had to work at the trot, of course. Wow, that was a workout. I was glad that we were able to take a few breathers and leave it on a short but good note. Totally worth the experience and the sweat! I rode my horse like a cowgirl, and I'm happy that 1) I didn't fall off and 2) we did it. We'll have to practice that exercise on our own and see how that confidence changes! On the way back to the other barn, we got a nice spook so I kept with with the turn, turn turn, go, go, go, stop, turn, turn, ... OK, you get it.

This was all still without a nose band, but the cut is starting to look better and the halter is staying off in the field! Our bridle looked a bit western which is why the cowgirl came out I guess! :)
An oldie, but a goodie - June 2012 right before his 5th bday!