Friday, January 15, 2016

Doing It My Way, Part I

I started the New Year determined to make headway with Skeeter. That sounds weird, because she's green broke, but she's still got so much to learn (as do I).

We had a break in the weather on January 2nd and we got to work. It was awful. Not a damn thing went correctly. There are two things I despise in horses: pushiness and being food driven. Skeeter was both on the 2nd.

I tried to work through her pushiness and keep her head out of the dead grass. For God's sake, she has a 1,200# round bale all to herself, she does not need to graze. I tried to stay calm, keep my cues clear and work through it, all the while seething. Eventually, through a lot of ground work, I got her paying attention to me and decided to bridle her and go for a ride.

On New Year's Eve I had changed out her bit and bridle to Estes' old bridle and Skeeter's new Myler combo bit. She had done beautifully with it - I worked her over the withers and she gave to pressure beautifully. The bit sat nicely in her mouth and she was much quieter with it than she was with the snaffle.

She doesn't look so thrilled, but she's a mare.
Since she had handled her new bridle so well, I didn't anticipate the fit she threw about having it put back on. It's not like she threw a huge fit, but Jessica has her so well trained that I was surprised she tried to toss her head up. She thought she might get away with it, but her mommy has bridled some of the worst horses around, so she lost and had to wear her pretty bridle.

I worked a bit more on ground work and then decided to mount up. I still can't find my damn stump so off to the trailer we went. And then her brain fell out her butt again and she forgot how to line up at the trailer. I continued to try to channel Jessica and stay calm with clear cues. Didn't work. I got frustrated because I figured I was doing something wrong and decided to walk her over to a pile of pallets, intending to use them as my mounting block.

Skeeter lined up beautifully, so I shortened her left rein a bit to tip her head toward me as I mounted. Just as I put my left foot in the stirrup, she decided that by tipping her nose to the left I must have wanted her up on the pallets with me, so up she came.

I'm not even kidding. I went from, "I'm really trying hard not to be pissed as hell at you" to laughing my ass off in about half a second. I backed her down from the pallets and lined her up again, chastising her to behave herself so I could mount up. Again, just as I got my foot in the stirrup, she stepped up on the pallets. It was not so funny the second time and my frustration meter skyrocketed.

I decided someone was trying to tell me that riding wasn't going to happen, so I backed her back down off of the pallets and we did more groundwork until I could find a decent stopping point.

When I turned her back out into her pen, she seemed as frustrated and relieved as I was that we were done.

I stomped into the house, absolutely livid with both of us. It took a while for me to calm down, but once I did, I realized I was trying to be someone I wasn't.

Skeeter knows what to do - she's fully trained. Green, but trained.

I mulled it over throughout the day and realized that I'm not Jessica, I can't be her and the harder I tried the more frustrated I got.

Eventually it dawned on me that I just have to do me. Me is a bit more abrasive than Jessica, a bit more impatient, but I like to think I'm still fair. I never get after a horse just because - I ask them once, give them a chance to respond, and then tell them.

By the time I went to bed, I was feeling much better and much more confident.

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