By Patty Wilber
On ride 14, after super-great –ok so super-great is sort of redundant — progress in rides 1-13, my round pen was flooded and Effie was “forced” (her words, not mine) to work in the arena.
She balked, she sulked and then she got a little light on the front end. More than once.
She said, “u never told me i had to do anything out HERE!”*
I was frankly astonished and a little stumped. Her demeanor was never marching brave in the round pen, but she was always cooperative, not especially fussy and her front end had never offered to defy gravity.
Front feet off the ground, even a little, does not make me a happy rider. On her next attempt at that, I chose to get off and make her back back back, while chiding her.
Result: she didn’t change the rearing trick, but now she was afraid to let me get off! I failed to establish the correct link. *sigh*
Decided she wasn’t being bad, she was lacking confidence. A horse trainer friend who has also ridden some of this line suggested that she could get stuck in a mental loop and I needed to help her reroute. (Like the GPS in the car–recalculating!)
Spent the next three days
- Getting on and off and scratching her belly (she likes that) to fix her fear of me dismounting.
- Doing basic ground work, that she already knew, in all four corners of the arena to help increase her feeling of safety.
- Reviewing lateral flexion and yes, backing, on the ground with no drama.
- Lateral flexing from the saddle when she got all high-headed and stiff-necked in response to fears of her own. devising. If she started circling like an unbalanced drunk, with her nose on my foot I’d get off and scratch her belly. Inhale. Exhale.
- Hitting the re-set button when I could not find her brain and connect it to her body by lunging (two loops at a walk each way, maybe) or some other ground work exercise that that she found easy
After those three days, she was riding as well in the arena as she had been in the round pen.
Eight days later she was beautifully packing around the two riders (one at a time) who will be taking her over when she goes home.
Ride 26 was a LONG trail ride with another steady horse as her mentor.
All of a sudden she is coming together!
* Thanks Carolyn for letting me use your horse language translation!