Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Wonder Pony and her Brain Vacation.

I had grand plans of jumping Savvy at home yesterday. She has been so wonderful lately and even though she is not all that great at jumping (would rather step over or knock it down than jump), maybe it would be a nice change for her.

So I set up one tiny cross rail in the arena and headed out to get my pony. She was out in the pasture with her two friends, munching grass and looking sleepy in the afternoon sun. Perfect! A great mood to be in for a fun little ride.

After tacking up and hand walking in the outdoor arena, I hopped up to get started and...nope. Savvy was literally prancing on the spot. What the heck? So I got off, grabbed the lunge line and decided to let her trot a bit and see if she just needed to get some nerves out. Nerves from what, I didn't know--it was just a normal sunny day in an arena she has been worked in for almost three years. After this she looked calm, relaxed and interested in just eating grass. Okay, back to it right? Wrong.

Me: "Can we ride?"
Savvy: "No."
Me: "But..."
Savvy: "No."
This went on for about half an hour. When ever I got on, she felt so nervous that she might flip out, or worse, over. I really tried to stay on as long as I felt safely possible, but each time I ended up having to get off and regroup. Finally I ended up taking her back to her pasture friends and got on there. This was to test if this was emotional or physical. If physical, she would be just as bad close to her friends, but if emotional, she would be better because of the comfort of being with the herd.

Luckily she was better. Completely better. So I took her back to the arena and just slowed things down. None of the focused ground work that usually makes her calm and focused had worked today so I decided to approach things differently. I took her over to the scariest corner and then just stood. I focused on my breathing, and was careful to aim my body away from her and look down at the ground. I relaxed and waited.

At first, Savvy could not keep still. She paced in a never-ending circle around me, but I just continued my breathing and stayed calm and relaxed. The only time I moved was to keep her out of my bubble--what she chose to do was up to her.

Finally she stopped. I rewarded her with scratches and then tried a new spot to 'meditate'. This time she just followed and stood with me.

Two hours after beginning this simple little afternoon ride, I was able to get on and walk her without fearing imminent flippage.

And today at our lesson at my coach's barn? A perfect little angel even with a bird trapped in the arena occasionally swooping at us and the neighbours constructing something and all the random loud banging from that.



  1. Ugh horses. Sometimes my mare just can't even either.

    1. Yes. Sometimes I think perhaps I should just *#$%# it and take up knitting instead, but then I get a good ride and think we could totally make the Olympic team, maybe someday. :P