Sunday, 19 February 2012

Ups and Downs

This past Thursday was a major down in the riding/training of Celtic.  I had planned to do a trotting pole exercise with her, have them set for a regular trot, then have two other sets that were slightly shorter and slightly longer respectively.  When we got there, we did all our regular stuff, just warming up on the ground, then under saddle.  When I started to do some trot work, Celtic just started to get extremely anxious/nervous, hitting the panic button.  So, I veto'ed the poles and decided to work on walk-halt-walk transitions, remaining soft and consistent. 

Let me tell you, when we went into halts they were jerky, quick, not balanced, and jarring.  Sometimes I'd get a semi-ok halt, but mostly they were quick and jarring.  Near the end of the ride, she was getting extremely hot, jigging, wanting to go, me wanting her to whoa, sidestepping, etc.  I asked her for a canter circle to let her go forward, hoping that that may help the jitters, but she would simply not calm down.  At one point she was actually crab stepping, sidestepping, and threw in a couple half-rears when I was asking for a halt.  During the 'theatrics' I was sitting as soft and easy as I could, thinking "stay with her... stay with her...".  Once I got a semi ok halt, got off and cooled out.  It was an upsetting time.  I simply didn't get how she couldn't do a simple walk-halt-walk transition without hitting that panic button.  Of course, this caused me to start wishing for my old guy back (see title photo) who I lost in a freak accident in October, it was not pretty.  Luckily, the incredible SO talked me down and made me realize that she isn't Dillon, but she'll come along and we'll figure each other out. 

Dillon and I at our second show together.  He was my boy!

Timing is everything, they say, and I was EXTREMELY fortunate that we were having a clinic this Saturday!  This is the same guy who came in January so he knew all of us.  I explained to Mel what happened and asked for some help, and we got down to business.  He helped me ride through her antics, and coached me with some transitions to work with her, emphasizing that I had to control my emotions.  If I get annoyed, frustrated, irritated, what have you, she'll get nervous, frustrated, and start to panic.  Celtic is a great horse, who will try her heart out but if she has no clue what you want, she'll hit that panic button.

During the clinic, we did some trot and sustained canter work (yay!) which actually was pretty awesome!  She wasn't curling/hiding from my contact, and once I forgot about riding in contact, we got along just fine with some very nice downward transitions.  Overall, very happy with what we accomplished and have some new tools to go to when we get in a bind.

For those of you who are english riders, don't be afraid to take a clinic from someone outside your discipline.  I wasn't too sure about riding in this clinic, but am extremely happy I did.  I should have some video from the clinic to post tomorrow (fingers crossed). 

Random picture of Celtic and I lunging in winter in the barn yard.

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