I rode her again, twice

And she is doing beautifully. The second, most recent time I rode her (as of last week), I decided to try my new Wintec 500 CC. It fit her so well and my balance was so much better than in the Collegiate! She is developing a very smooth, soft trot, and her canter is starting to come along, too. She is a bit weaker to the right than to the left. Or maybe it was the other way around. I don’t remember. Either way, we have been making a LOT of progress!

And I have pictures!

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She had a scratch. I applied some wound spray and Wonder Dust, just to protect from an infection.  IMG_6018[1]IMG_5791[1]IMG_5805[1]IMG_5798[1]IMG_5897[1]IMG_5942[1]

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No means NO!

The farrier was late. Like, and hour late. But that was okay. I decided that he wasn’t coming, so tacked up Winchester to go on a trail ride. Right as I was preparing to mount up, Randy arrived. He trimmed Winchester, and when I asked him about Chic, he told me to go ahead and ride since he had three other horses of Sherwin’s to trim and shoe. I took full advantage of the extra time, yet Randy hadn’t finished the first horse by the time I got back. Oh well. I spent time with Winny while I waited.

Eventually, Randy was ready for Chic. I brought her in from her paddock and held her for him. Within the first few minutes, she began to act up, resisting his grasp and threatening to kick. Now, when she does this, I hold the leg until she stops, and when she does, I stroke her leg and tell her “Good girl.”

I think what happened next is because of how I would usually handle her in that kind of situation.

Randy went out the window, and a drill sergeant arrived to take his place. New Randy yelled, growled, shouted, nudged her (HARD) in the side with his nippers, smacked her with the lead rope, and basically went bat-crap crazy. Chic went bat-crap crazy. My two dogs, Oreo and Remy, went bat-crap crazy. I just kind of stood there. I knew that Randy wasn’t abusing Chic. He was disciplining her for being stupid, and that I would be next. I quietly restrained Oreo, a Chowbrador, as he was the most distressed of the dogs. He was trying to protect Chic. Once Oreo was restrained, Remy calmed down. Eventually so did Chic, and as soon as she stopped freaking out, regular Randy came back. His demeanor was perfectly calm, and he explained to me that Chic had never been told no.

Wait a second. She has too been told no! I tell her no all the time!

But do I mean it?

Randy meant it. When he told her no, he meant N O. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31g0YE61PLQ Like this. Only without the “please”.

He went on to explain to me that because this was the first time she had ever been told no, she freaked out. She didn’t understand. It’s like a child getting spanked. They cry because they don’t know better. When the child grows older, a verbal warning is enough (usually) to keep them in line, because they know better. They learned. The child was, effectively, trained.

I listened intently and was not faking my enthusiasm at what he was saying. Yes, it made sense. It didn’t look pretty, but afterwards, I noticed that Chic had completely changed. She was calm, quiet, and submissive. Not because she was intimidated. Randy stopped as soon as she did, so she knew that he could be trusted to be gentle with her. It was because she had found a leader.

Randy finished the trim and continued to talk to me for another hour. Chic was by his side the whole time. He wasn’t holding her there. To prove it to me, he dropped the lead rope. She stayed. I was transfixed. Not at the “awww, this is magical and he is a horse-whisperer”-type moment, but at my own passiveness in training Chic. How could I let that kind of disrespect go on for so long and not realise just how bad it was? Randy told me how. I didn’t understand. I was Oreo, letting my emotions get in the way. He said that I have to push them away and approach the situation using my reactions. I cannot be proactive because I don’t know what she will do. I have to react in the moment. If she shows disrespect, I discipline. If she shows respect, I reward her by being quiet and calm, or letting her go to her food, or letting her put her foot down, or letting her have a treat.

God gave man dominion over animals. We all have the ability to train. We have to set aside our emotions and our predispositions and react.

Randy also disciplined Oreo a few times for getting too close to Chic. She was not happy about him that close, and he could have gotten seriously hurt had Randy not stepped in. I was way too passive about it. Oreo was distressed at first, much like Chic had been, but as soon as he understood, he laid down for Randy. Completely submissive and calm.

 

Tonight, I tried what Randy did. Chic is pushy whenever I take off her halter in the presence of her food. So, I went bat-crap crazy. She went almost bat-crap crazy. This pattern continued for the next ten or so minutes: I raise my hand. Chic freaks. I keep my hand up. She calms down. I move my hand. She freaks again. Then she calms down. I get to where I am playing with the halter near her ears. She starts pressing on me. I smack her for it. She freaks again. I raise my hand, etc. With a few variations of this, I get to the point where she is stretching her neck towards me, ears pricked, and sniffing me. I raise my hand. She flinches a little, then comes close again. I pet her. She shirks a little but comes back to me. Soon, I can take her halter up over her ears (one at a time), and I lead her to her food.

I think I could have handled it a lot better. I’ll do some research.

“We have dominion over animals. USE IT.” – Randy

 

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FINALLY getting somewhere with Chic!

I had a lesson with Sherwin today, or rather yesterday, since it is midnight now. The Collegiate saddle is definitely making a difference with Chic, and with my balance. I do not feel tipped forward anymore, or like I am being pulled forward out of my position whenever she resists my hands. Speaking of which, she barely did that today in the lesson, compared to how bad she was two weeks ago.

The only major problem was getting Chic to the arena. I was riding her there instead of leading her. I feel like it is good to do both, but particularly good to ride her there, because she needs to be taught not to run off with me. Which is exactly what she tried to do, and succeeded in a few times. However, she was only able to run off with me because I allowed her to. Allow my to explain. We have one of these: http://www.abiequine.com/_assets/equine_images/product_photos/products/walkers/lead_walker2_672px.jpg I have to ride past this to get to the arena. This is when Chic likes to throw a hissy fit, because her pasture is just beyond the hot walker. Yes, she is buddy sour. She was throwing MASSIVE bucks and more substantial rears than usual, and when she starts doing that close to the hot walker, I worry that my back will get slammed by one of the metal bars. I am shocked that she isn’t spooked by the contraption. But she is clever, she knows that I will have minimal contact when she is underneath the walker, so she will get as close to it as possible. It’s a war of attrition, really. I don’t give up. She has to give up. That’s how it is, I will not let her boss me around like that. Still, it is scary when she gets too close for comfort to the walker. I wear a helmet, yes, but I can get my head lower than my back if bad comes to worse, however, that means that if she bucks high enough, I could still get seriously injured. Not to mention she could end up hurting or traumatising herself.

It’s funny really. The second we got into the arena, she was perfect. I mean she was a real dream. She was a little resistant bending to the left, but every horse has a weak side, and that is perfectly okay.

The lesson basically consisted of the sitting trot and riding in a large circle around Sherwin. We focused on slowing her cadence and teaching her that she doesn’t have to rush past my hands. I warmed her up for a few minutes at the walk,  and then Sherwin had me start the circle around the outside of four cones that we used as markers. After going a few laps in both directions, keeping her steady and consistent, he had me trot two circles around each cone when I came to it. After a few laps of this, in each direction, he had me do the same exercise, but stop halfway in between the cones and back her a few steps. She is very soft in the mouth when I am riding her correctly. All I had to do was squeeze my hands gently and she would happily back for me. And she no longer thrusts her head sharply into the air when I ask her to trot. She also doe not resist my hands, as I said earlier. Probably because I am not riding like a cocky wanna-be cowboy anymore. 😉 I am using primarily open reins when I steer her. Anyways, after doing the basic circle, stop, back, and circle drills, Sherwin asked me to try to ask Chic to counter-bend. After a little resistance, simply because she had never done this before, she was counter-bending quite nicely and being generally accepting of what I was asking her to do. HOW I ask her to do it makes such a difference. She responds better to soft, gentle, reassuring reinforcement. Winchester responds better to me getting firmer and more assertive with him. He is not nearly as sensitive as Chic is, partly because he is older, and partly because he has a (usually) mellow temperament. But with Chic, I really need to pay closer attention to how I interact with her. The slightest thing can and will set her off, especially if I do not “explain”, if you will, to her what it means and that it will not hurt her, be it slowing down and relaxing or not running off with me. After the counter-bending, Sherwin asked a lot of us. He asked us to canter a circle around him. Now, the last time I had cantered Chic did not go so well. She was rushing, would not relax, and would NOT go in any kind of comprehensible direction. Today, however, she did VERY well. Sherwin and I were both impressed with how well she did. She still rushed a little, but her pace was slightly more relaxed, and she produced a few heavenly strides that felt like I was riding a rocking horse. Nice, long, easy strides that covered a lot of ground. 🙂 Like her daddy, Gucci. She also went very well in a circle pattern. She did not try to deviate or escape my hands, and I did not have to fight for control. I think it helps that I have so much more security in this new (new-to-me) saddle. My position still needs works, everyone’s does, but I can feel myself listening more to Chic and less to my anxieties over her going too fast.

 

And yes, I will have pictures soon. I need a new cord to plug my phone into the computer. The one I had been using is broken. Like all the others. Ugh.

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Saddle concerns

So the saddle that I had been riding Chic with does not fit her. The more research I do, the more enlightened I become. Basically, the cantle to too high and the channel is too wide. I found an old Collegiate in the big barn, cleaned it up, and it fits Chic almost perfectly. I am worried that it might put a little pressure on her spine, but while I am sitting in it, I can still fit two fingers underneath the pommel easily.

 

How did I come to suspect that the saddle I rode in was a bad fit? (I don’t know the brand, but it has a wide channel, knee blocks, a cushy seat, and pretty big gussets.) For starters, she hates it when I tighten the girth. She hates it when the saddle is on her, period. She threatens to bite me, lays her ears back, and tonight she actually tried to reach forward and kick me while I was checking the fit of the new saddle. I had put on both saddles multiple times to compare how they fit, and each time I placed a saddle on her back, she got angrier. I think she is sore somewhere. I will check tomorrow. She had a little swelling a few days ago behind her right shoulder, but it went down. I think one of her pasture “buddies” bit her there. She is the “bottom rung”, after all.

 

I decided to go with the Collegiate because it had the most even pressure distribution along her back, and plenty of clearance. The other saddle would put a lot of pressure on her withers, and I didn’t realise it for a while because of how it looked alright when I wasn’t mounted. Also, it would slide up her back quite a lot. The Collegiate slides up a little, but not nearly as drastically, and it is a lot more comfy for the both of us. 🙂 I felt tipped forward on her back with the other one, like I was too far forward and leaning towards her. This one puts me in a great position (now if only I could hold it during her crazy trot), and I feel balanced and secure. The ONLY problem is: The Collegiate is for free. It’s Sherwin’s. I can use it whenever I want. Strange problem, I know. I guess I should re-word this: The other saddle belongs to my friend, and I told her that I would buy it from her, and she needs the money. So I am basically buying a saddle that I can’t use because it doesn’t fit either of my horses. Arrrrg. It’s cheap though, only $180. I’ll list it on ebay, along with the other two saddles that don’t fit either horse, once I get the chance. I have a John Leckie that I bought for $400, and a Stubben Cavalleria II that is worth about $600. I am buying a new saddle for Winchester. FINGERS CROSSED THAT IT FITS!

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Today has been good

I didn’t ride Chic today, but I was able to be reassured by Sherwin that I can, in fact, improve Chic fundamentally by April 11th, which is when the project is due.

Chic is going to be outside now for as often as possible. I think it’ll be good for her. I’m actually with her right now, watching her finish eating while I have the clippers running. I actually clipped some off of her chest and she was perfect for that. It’s just her head that she is anxious about.

And I have pictures this time! 🙂 She is extremely fluffy.
I’ll add the pictures as soon as I figure out how to on a phone.

She is getting bigger too. A lot healthier. 🙂 I’ve added a weight booster to her feed so that she doesn’t have to eat so much Purina Impact. Too much grain, waaaay too much. Especially for a single feeding. I know that she isn’t getting feed in the mornings anymore though, so I am doing the best that I can.

Taking Friday off to work on my portfolio. I am creaking out over it. :/

I want to do a low trace clip, but not yet. I can’t afford a blanket so I want to do it when the weather gets warmer.

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She got a bath today!

And she HATES the water coming anywhere near her face! She will toss her head, shake it, roll her eyes, the whole nine yards. She is genuinely afraid of the water. I made a tiny bit of progress with her, but not as much as I would like to. However, I think I was pushing her too hard. After all, this is only the second bath she has ever had. It went much better than the first. Still, I narrowly escaped having my head smashed in by her big nose.

The rest of her body, she was fine with. But her head and anywhere near her ears? No, no, NO.

I cleaned her up, though, and I will clip her a little more tomorrow since she is sweating even when she is standing there, doing nothing. I will also get a salt block for her, since she is losing so much from the constant sweat.

Oh! And she and Winchester have both been pooping out some of their grain. :/ Could be an impaction from having to eat so much once a day in order to maintain their weight, so I am gradually taking it out of their diet some. No one feeds Chic in the mornings anymore as far as I know, and I had to move the feed barrels to the main tack room, where all of my stuff is, because the guy who had been feeding her was also stealing my feed and using it to feed his two underfed, unhealthy horses. 😡 So I can’t trust him, or Robin. Grrr. I am adding a weight builder by Dumor into their feed, though, so that they are still getting the fat and calories that they need, without the bulk of grain.

I banged her tail to make her look sharper. I like it. 🙂 I can’t wait for her mane and forelock to grow out more. I use M-T-G Plus as a conditioner. I know a lot of people don’t like the smell, but the “plus” version does smell quite agreeable, and once you get past the greasy feeling, it really does work wonders when applied weekly. Some horses do not react well to it, so always test it on a small area first, just to make sure. Luckily, both Winny and Chic are not sensitive to it. 🙂 It goes in very well with clean, wet hair. The hair feels greasy if you use it on a mane or tail that is dry, but if their are wet. it absorbs, shines, and conditions very nicely and adds a glimmer to the fibers without making the hair feel gross or prone to picking up dirt. I sound like a commercial. 🙂

 

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A Lesson Learned

So this is my make-up post, and I will post another tomorrow.

I had a lesson yesterday, well, two days ago, since today is technically Friday. I am posting this at 12:30, because two hour delays are freaking amazing.

A lesson, meaning Sherwin trying to keep calm while he realises just how clueless I really am about this whole horse-training thing. Typically, I have my lessons with Winchester. But Robin and anyone else who has handled Chic apparently complained to Sherwin about how poorly mannered she is. (She really isn’t that bad with me–wait, nevermind. She really is awful.) So, Sherwin decides to have my lesson with Chic instead, working on ground manners and slightly above basic riding cues. This actually works out, since I don’t have an English saddle that fits Winny, and I have wanted to do a lesson with Chic for a while. (Killing four birds with one stone: Blog update, journal entry, mentor contact, and annotated bibliography WOOT!)

I start off with lunging Chic with my arm driving her and the lead rope dictating the circumference of the circle, which is quite small. Sherwin is on the phone, so I have her trot, just to warm her up. She’s such a nervous little brat. Tried to switch directions on me a few times, but I am zippy and correct her. Sherwin gets off the phone (he actually gets about three phone calls during this lesson, but it was still totally worth it) and gets a longer line to lunge her on. He ties it to her halter and takes her to a corner of the arena to work with her and asses how much she knows. Nothing. She was walking all over him. Naturally, he wasn’t having any of it, but still. She is a very smart horse, so obviously she has a bad attitude and way too much energy (although I can’t use that as an excuse for her behaviour). Sherwin works with her for several minutes, explaining to me what he is doing, which is teaching her to engage and disengage her hips. Basically, turning her in a circle around him, and then pulling her in so that she turns on the forehand. Horses are prey animals, so they do not like exposing their flanks. This is playing on that instinct, and using it to teach a horse to respect a human’s space. The goal of disengaging is to have the horse stop directly in front of the person from a respectful distance. This means that Chic is not all up in Sherwin’s grill. Well, ideally. Really, she was all over him for the good first five to ten minutes of this exercise.

Then Sherwin had another phone call. He hands the lead line to me.

Heck yes, I can do this.

I had been watching his every move, charting it in my mind and practically worshiping his skill. (Because he is a freaking magician with horses. As difficult as Chic was, he still made a lot of progress in those first few minutes of working with her.)

I start trying to do the same thing while he is on the phone. Holy crap, why is she trying to push me over? Wait a second, oh, I got it. I just put pressure here and she’ll move this way. Wait, no, not right! Stop moving! Hold on a sec. Okay, okay, this is working, Crap, no it isn’t.

The wizard gets off the phone, and I imagine that he is inwardly shaking his head as he approaches and takes the line from me. He shows me how to back her up and then draw her in. He says to build up energy in my torso and my hands, and to try to move her backwards just from that energy. This is witchcraft. He effortlessly asks her to back up, and she does. He closes his body, makes it smaller and she come close. My turn. I end up having to wave the line back and forth, smack her a few times, and jerk the line backwards on her halter to get her to back. Sherwin said that I shouldn’t have smacked her, she was already backing up. Grr, he’s right. He smacked her a few good times, too, but those instances were properly executed corrections, not needless reinforcements to a request that Chic was already meeting.

She has no respect for anyone’s space. It’s my fault, I didn’t do a good enough job of teaching that to her.

On to the mounted portion of the lesson. That was rough. Sherwin has me trot her in circles, trying to get her to slow down her pace and relax. This is very difficult to do. Luckily, I have worked with two other horses much like Chic. One wasn’t quite as bad, and the other was much, much worse, and I was able to make significant progress with both. (The worst one was a Missouri Fox Trotter with an owner who had absolutely no clue what she was doing. The horse’s name was Dessi, and she had a SERIOUS rearing problem. I thought that she would flip over on the both of us several times. I switched her into a simple O-ring snaffle, from her previous weymouth-type bit with five inch shanks. We rode together a lot, and I was patient with her. In three months, she went from rearing at her own shadow to having days where she wouldn’t rear at all. I even took her on a trail ride with my boyfriend. I was riding Dess, and he was on Winchester, which was a lot of fun. 🙂 This is so off-topic, I don’t even. But my point is, I have dealt with worse. I guess I am trying to reassure myself that I got this. Three months to turn this train-wreck of a filly into something that somebody would be willing to buy for $5000 to $6000. Yikes, I am freaking out.) Anyways, I guess I really need to go back to the basics with Chic, and I need to try to ride her/work with her every day for the next three months. She isn’t skin and bones anymore, so I don’t have an excuse to wait on her.

She needs work. I need work. I love this little brat to death, but she is a PITA pony, as my farrier says.

Ugh. This senior project will literally kill me. (Knocks on wood.)

I have learned a lot. Now I get to learn how to apply it. YAY!

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Late, again. This is really bad, isn’t it?

Basically, I have been one post behind for the past few months. GAH!

And a lot has been going on, but not necessarily good things. I haven’t been able to ride nearly as much as I want to because of the incompetence that has been happening for the past three years at the farm. Everything is coming to a head, and of course it happens to be when the stress of senior project is catching up to me.

Here’s the situation in a nutshell:

There is the barn manager, Robin. Then there is Mike. He does the weekends for Robin. Neither of them take care of their horses, so I have no idea why Sherwin trusts them with HIS horses and his boarders’ horses. For example, Mike will leave his little gelding and mare in stalls all day. And in the evenings when I am there, they either have less than half a bucket of water or none whatsoever. Their stalls are filthy. I mean, they have to stand in their own piss and poop all day, all night. Nobody ever cleans their stalls. (They were actually stripped today, but still. Disgusting. No horse should have to live in those conditions. Luckily, they were turned out with other horses, too, today. So they get some kind of stimulation.) And nobody comes to feed them. I remember when both of those horses were fat, and now they look like they could be rescue cases, especially the gelding. Mike pretends to know a lot about horses, but he had never handled them before he came to work for Sherwin. Still, he ought to know better. Robin says that she grew up around horses. Her dad apparently had this huge stables and she used to help out every day. She DEFINITELY should know better. Yet she has a five year old miniature stud that she has NO use for. He doesn’t have a job. He just stands in his dirty stall 24/7/365. I have never seen him in a paddock, never seen her walking him for exercise. ONCE he was in the round pen, but that was just so that Robin could clean his stall. And that was a year ago. And I give him water and the occasional half scoop of grain because she doesn’t even bother to take care of him. He has terrible club feet on all fours, and desperately needs to be groomed. But he won’t let anyone touch him because Robin never interacts with him except to switch his stall every few months. Why the heck does she have a mini stud if a) she won’t breed him, b) she won’t feed/water him, c) she won’t even let him out to stretch his legs. It really, really pisses me off.

UPDATE: (It’s April now, and Robin and I are on good terms again. As you can imagine, I was very cross when I wrote this and posted it.)

Neither of them turn out horses when they should. Neither of them clean stalls. Neither of them show up consistently or on time. I’ve been there countless times when no one comes to feed the horses. Robin is always treating me like I am stupid, and like I don’t know what I am doing. She passed me and Winchester when he was eating his grain. “That’s a lot of food in there, HorseGirl.” Seriously? Have you seen him lately? “Yeah, but he only gets fed once a day and I work him a lot, and he is really ribby.” My God, she can just get off my back. She has no business telling me what to do with MY horse. SHE is supposed to feed in the AM, but she doesn’t. And she lives thirty seconds down the road. So I have to give Winny one big meal in the evenings if I want him to be semi-healthy looking, even though a horse should have at least two meals per day. But nobody will feed in the mornings, because they are morons. Robin also rubs me the wrong way about shavings. I have to put Chic in a stall when it gets too cold out, and Robin freaks if I use more than one wheelbarrow of shavings. I typically use three. Otherwise Chic ends up swimming in piss and poop. Shavings are meant to insulate and absorb, not sit there and look pretty. And each stall should be stripped once a month. It doesn’t sound logical, but that actually saves shavings. It’s better to be on a mucking schedule like that than to wait for the stalls to get so bad that they have to be stripped, and dried out from all of the crap that was sitting there for several months. Oh, and Robin “forgot” to turn Chic out with the rest of the mares. Yeah, sure you forgot. There is no way she forgot. If that happens again, she is getting more than a polite “reminder”. She also didn’t bring Will, a gelding that is on stall board, in from his paddock and left the farm. There is NO WAY she forgot, because he shares a paddock with another gelding who gets put in at night in the same barn. Will would have been out all night, in 12 degree weather had I not noticed and brought him in. His food was in his stall, so his owners meant for him to be brought in. Absolutely unacceptable.

Ugh. I really, really needed to say all that. I end up getting stuck doing a bunch of barn chores that I am PAYING to have done by the “staff”. But no, those two hooligans are too busy painting their nails and playing patty-cake to do any real work. They come, scrape by with barely doing anything, and then leave. WHILE I am there, doing a stall for Chic, feeding both Chic and Winchester, feeding the geldings, getting water, hay, and other things that they are BEING PAYED to do. I don’t have time for that, I am a student and I have a life outside of the barn. A barn manager should, ideally, live ON THE FARM, and be available at all hours in case his/her services should be needed. It is a full-time job if the farm is going to look anything like a professional, pleasant environment for the average horse and for the top-quality show horse.

Instead, Sherwin lets these two clowns run the show and take advantage of ALL OF US. Where is our money going?

Yeah, so this is what’s been happening lately, and why my entries have been late for such a long time.

Oh, and I tried clipping Chic’s ears. I got her bridle path, but her ear is a real hack-job. I need to work with her on that. She also hates the cross-ties.Image

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This is one wheelbarrow:

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Late again–imagine that today is January 9th

So, um. Today marks the first day that I fell off of Chic.

I was trying to teach her to slow down her canter on the right lead, because it isn’t a canter, it’s pretty much a hand gallop/gallop. It’s extremely difficult for me to sit, probably because my legs are so long and the easiest thiNg to do is to grip with my knees, which I absolutely REFUSE to get into the habit of doing. On Winchester, he has enough of a barrel so that I can easily grip with my calves, and really sink into my butt and my heels. With Chic, it’s like riding a hyper sawhorse. She is pretty much vertical, while Winchester is more rounded. So, as a consequence, I am either rocking back and forth like a drunken cowboy, or flopping around like an ape. To be honest, it’s probably a combination of the two.

Chic is filling out super well, but she still doesn’t had much in the way of her girth area. She’s even grown almost a hand since I’ve started her. But it seems she is hell bent on keeping her “girlish figure”. I’ll have to have Sherwin help me learn how to sit her canter. It’s just so weird. Like I said earlier, two of her feet hit the ground at the same time. She’s not gaited or anything. Both of her parents are Quarter Horses. I think it’s just one of her quirks that I am going to have to deal with.

Anyway, so I am pretty sure I went overkill while I was working her tonight. Both of us were thoroughly pissed off at each other. I did a much better job at keeping my cool, but I felt like I had to wrench on her mouth the whole time to get to realize that she needs to CHILL AND SLOW DOWN. She was trying to canter the whole time. I got her to trot nicely first, as a warm up, and as soon as I asked her to canter….PEW! She was like a freaking bullet. I was able to get her to go nice and relaxed on the left lead, so I ended that side on a good note, and was determined to get the same results on the other side. Chic, however, was determined not to. We probably spent twenty minutes total, just cantering around the arena, or attempting to canter, rather. She was getting hot, and so was I, but I didn’t want to break until she did at least five decent strides. It got to the point where she was actively trying to catch me off guard and throw me off. But she wasn’t bucking. Oh no, she is much smarter than that. I can sit a buck six ways to Sunday. No, she could feel that, when she did certain things, I would get thrown off balance a little bit. She spent the duration of me trying to get her to slow down attempting to catch me when I was wobbly. The first few times were a failure. Then, she almost got me. She went to the left, I started going to the right, but RAILING TO THE RESCUE! I grabbed onto the rail and pushed myself back into position before she could take off and leave me hanging, literally. A few minutes later, she does it again. And this time, she hits the sweet spot. She waited for the perfect moment, when my body was partially in the air from trying to sit her awkward canter. She spun to the left, and this time, she was quick about it, and far enough from the railing that I had no chance of using it a second time. I was flung to the right, and I landed pretty hard on my right hip. Of course, I didn’t let go of the reins, which is an awful habit because it can screw with your horse’s mouth. But it’s also not very fun to practice, given the circumstances leading up to that moment. I did let go once I realized what just happened, and I stood up, brushed myself off, and got back on. No big deal, you know?

The second time, it was different. She didn’t mean for me to come flying over her side. I was walking her outside of the arena to cool her down, and I spotted a jump with both rails on the ground. I thought it would be nice to have her walk over them. I walked her up, and she stopped. Obviously, these poles were too high. A whopping five centimeters! Also, they were about two feet apart from each other. There was plenty of room for her to place her feet in between, by Chic didn’t seem to agree. So, before I could collect myself and get into two point (because come on, who would expect a horse to jump THAT), she leapt into the air, and I with her. The only problem: I didn’t land back into the saddle. I landed on the ground. On the same hip I landed on earlier, in fact. I was completely winded. I could breathe in or out for a good ten seconds or so, but of course it felt like ten minutes. I then was able to exhale, but only by yelling. It was the only way. So I just sat there on my hands and knees, yelling. Not because of the pain. I’ve had worse falls as far as pain goes. But just so that I could begin the breathing process again. I probably sounded like I was rehearsing for a song-off against Idena Menzel. Head voice aside, I was able to breathe normally again after a minute of yelling, and I, being the bullheaded rider that I am, mounted Chic once more and rode her all the way to the barn. No WAY am I not getting back on after a fall, unless I physically can’t.

So yeah. Um. Ouch.

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Chic’s new tattoo.

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